Jordan Bell, who played sporadically during the early part of the year, has started seven games in a row due to injuries to Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia. He’s been consistently providing energy and athleticism (despite a few rookie mistakes), making the Warriors even more terrifying.
Zaza Pachulia was finally available for the Warriors’ game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Christmas, and all signs pointed to Coach Steve Kerr inserting him back into the starting lineup. But Steve Kerr decided to start Jordan Bell at starting center instead.
Pachulia is a sturdy big man, but his lack of quickness and overall athleticism is a crucial weakness in the modern NBA. Against the best teams in the playoffs, Kerr has turned away from Pachulia (and his predecessor at the position, Andrew Bogut) to bench wing players like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston instead.
These quicker lineups are able to spread the floor offensively and play at a faster pace. They also are able to maintain a strong defense by switching everything: everybody can defend on the perimeter.
Jordan Bell can’t shoot, and he’s undersized against the biggest dudes in the NBA. But he can really do a little bit of everything: he can rebound, block shots, pass the ball, and finish. His athleticism and quickness are elite.
Against teams like the Cavaliers, Jordan Bell’s versatility can really shine. The Cavaliers don’t start a true center, and much of their offensive firepower comes from their amazing shooters. Bell is quick enough to slide from the paint to the perimeter, guard LeBron James a little bit, and corral rebounds on both ends.
Bell played well against the Cavs, recording eight points, six boards (including three on the offensive end), three assists, and a steal and block apiece. He had a few rookie lapses, but it’s important for him to get minutes against the best teams—if he continues his development, he’s going to receive significant minutes deep into the playoffs.
He showed a bunch of promise tonight, playing tough defense and finishing a few lobs.
Steve Kerr had kind words for Bell tonight:
The Durant-Green-Bell frontcourt has the opportunity to be legendary. Their interior defense intimidated even LeBron James on Christmas, and their overall athleticism is terrifying. When Stephen Curry comes back, this frontcourt could be even scarier offensively.
LMFBOOOOOOOOO THIS IS ABSURD pic.twitter.com/1TIUDQ13Vd— Nekias Duncan (@NekiasNBA) December 25, 2017
Kerr said that Pachulia will be starting against the bigger Utah Jazz next game, so don’t expect Bell to stay in the starting lineup. But Steve Kerr has never changed his starting lineup in the regular season when the starters are healthy and only when absolutely necessary in the playoffs. This is really a significant shift.
At this point, it’s likely Bell plays more in the playoffs than any center on the Warriors other than David West, and he’ll likely start for the Warriors next year. He’s exceeded expectations this season, and will be major piece in the 2018 playoffs and beyond.
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