There aren’t too many questions about the Golden State Warriors. The two-time defending NBA champions are retaining their core pieces from a year ago, and are, unquestionably, favorited to win their fourth title in five years.
But while there aren’t many questions, there are a few as the team prepares for their October 16 opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Perhaps the biggest question is how their center rotation will shake out, especially early in the season.
With DeMarcus Cousins sidelined for a few months with an Achilles injury, the Warriors have three options at center: Kevon Looney, who had a breakout performance last year in his third season, Damian Jones, who is the largest option, and entering his third year, and the exciting Jordan Bell, who is beginning his second campaign.
Each has their strengths, and their weaknesses. Looney is the best player defensively, but struggles on offense. Bell has the greatest potential, but is at times a little undisciplined. And Jones has the build of a traditional center, but has yet to prove his ability at the NBA level.
But for now, Jones appears to be in pole position to win the starting job. The seven-foot center started the preseason opener, and will start in the team’s second preseason game on Friday night against the Sacramento Kings.
Steve Kerr said he will start Damian Jones at center tomorrow— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) October 4, 2018
After Friday, the Warriors will still have three more preseason games to determine who gets the starting nod. It’s clear, however, that Kerr favors Jones, which shouldn’t be any surprise - Kerr also started Zaza Pachulia for much of the last two years, proving that he’s a fan of giving the game’s first minutes to a player who fits the traditional center archetype.
Jones has only played 206 minutes in his career, including the playoffs, but he’s tall, he’s big, he sets good screens, and he can defend at the rim. That may be enough for Kerr and the coaching staff.
The Warriors play the Kings at 7:30 p.m. PT on Friday, at KeyArena in Seattle, on ESPN. They will be playing shorthanded, as both Steph Curry and Draymond Green will miss the game.