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Get to know the Warriors’ new rookie: Pac-12 Defensive player of the year, Jordan Bell

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Warriors pull pick out of nowhere (again!)

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

As Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers said prior to the draft, the Warriors were “acting like they had a pick” in this year’s draft.

Joe Lacob and company laid out $3.5 (of the maximum allowable $3.6) million in order to pick up Jordan Bell with the 38th pick in the draft (from the Chicago Bulls).

Coming in, the Warriors said that they were just planning to get the best player available, as they had done in the past:

"Our thought on that is whoever the best player available is. When we drafted McCaw, we actually didn't think he would be as ready as he was…it was more of who's the best player, at this number, period. Whether they're ready now or in a year. So that's how we'll approach this year."

SO?

Let’s take a look shall we? See what Bob Myers saw:

It should come as no surprise that the Warriors picked up an athletic 6-foot-9 combo forward who ticks all those skill boxes the Warriors like to see in a prospect: he can dribble, pass, shoot and defend. I don’t really follow college basketball, but just looking through some of his accolades and highlight clips, I like what I see. A great defender with an emphasis on blocks, good in transition, decent handles and excellent passes/vision in the pick and roll. Not bad for a pick we didn’t have.

Defense First

First, just watch this video to get a sense of his game. To me, what stands out is his general hustle and nose for the ball. It will be interesting to see how well his outstanding athleticism translates to the NBA; at the college level, he was clearly a handful:

It’s a good sign that he led his college in career blocked shots and it’s certainly easy to see why, even from that short look at his game. Bell has very Draymond Green-esque physique — a little taller at 6-foot-9 and with a slightly smaller wingspan of nearly 7 feet, he is a classic “tweener.” But one that could fit in well with the Warriors, who will be more than happy to let him compete with James MacAdoo for those spot minutes at the PF/C position.

From his Draft Express profile:

A lot of the intrigue around Bell in the NBA stems from the versatility and impact that he can have on the defensive end of the floor. Despite his lack of ideal size and length, he is a tremendous weak side shot blocker, and shows incredible timing rotating over off the ball and protecting the rim. He averaged 3.1 blocks per 40 minutes, with many of those coming in highlight reel fashion. He controls the paint in the half court as an interior shot blocking presence and has the speed and leaping ability to make chase down blocks in transition.

Here’s some more video of Bell racking up eight blocks in the NCAA tourney against highly touted Kansas.

Offense / Weakness

I’m just going to bundle both of these subjects together. Obviously, you aren’t going to end up with a flawless player in the second round of the NBA draft. In Bell’s case, the biggest issue is his offense. Although he finished his last year at Oregon shooting 66% from the floor, those are Andris Biedrins shots - meaning this guy isn’t going to be taking many jump shots.

Anthony Slater, as always, dug up the pertinent information for us:

Ok, so there are some pretty ugly plays in there. And the listed “3-for-20 on shots outside of 17 feet” tells us a couple of important things:

  1. He shouldn’t be shooting from out there;
  2. He knows he shouldn’t be shooting from out there.

But we can work with this. Just like my coach used to yell at me in high school when I attempted a jump shot, “You’re open for a reason, Duby!! DRIVE IT!” (God, I still here you in my head Coach Johnson!).

There are ways to get around your limitations, especially if you are cognizant of them. And this is something that the Warriors are very good at. He’ll get some coaching to develop and is almost assured to start his NBA career in Santa Cruz with the D League affiliate rather than Oakland.

Some of those weaknesses (picking up his dribble after running into trouble, weird iso post moves) will be solved pretty easily here - we simply don’t want him to do those things, even if he was very good at them. I mean, he’s joining a team whose head coach refuses to run the pick and roll with Kevin Durant and Steph Curry because “that’s not who we are.”

Conclusion

As long as Bell can not try to do too much on the offensive end, the Warriors can almost certainly find some utility from him on the defensive end.

Offensively, Bell just clearly has a very traditional big man skillset. While his handle is decent, at 6’9” he’s not going to be breaking any ankles with slick crossovers and doesn’t seem likely to develop a three point shot. Thankfully, as Javale McGee just demonstrated, just finishing in transition and dunking lobs can be impactful around this team.

Finally, you don’t draft players for their weaknesses, you draft them because of the flashes of greatness they’ve shown. With Bell, I don’t know what we are going to get necessarily, but there is definitely enough here to get me excited.

Welcome to the Warriors, Jordan Bell!!