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Kevon Looney is quietly improving

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The fourth year big man is having his best season yet.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kevon Looney is not a sexy player. He doesn’t produce spectacular plays on either side of the ball and doesn’t try to do so. Perhaps his best highlights are his defensive stops against perimeter players such as James Harden in last year’s Western Conference Finals.

But Looney is solid at many things, and that makes him valuable to the Warriors and their stars. He’s a good rim protector and is one of the few centers in the league that can consistently defend on the perimeter. Offensively, he’s improving his finishing and shooting.

Looney’s rise was one of the Warriors’ most interesting stories last year: after injuries ruined the first two years of his career, the team declined his fourth-year option. Looney came out of nowhere to be an integral part of the Warriors’ rotation, playing the most minutes of any big man on the roster in the postseason other than Draymond Green. He was particularly valuable against the Rockets, where he played good enough defense on Chris Paul and James Harden in isolation that they opted to attack other defenders instead. The Warriors are extremely lucky to have him back on a minimum contract.

Although he isn’t starting this year, Looney still gets my vote for best big man on the team other than Draymond Green. Coach Steve Kerr loves Looney because he’s dependable, plays within the system, and is smart. He’s currently fifth on the team in total minutes played.

The team does well with Looney on the floor: according to NBA.com, the Warriors have a 16.4 net rating when he’s playing. His usage is low, but he’s improved his efficiency dramatically this season, raising his True Shooting from 58.8% to 69.1%. He’s finishing better around the rim and hitting his free throws.

He’s improved his passing and rebounding as well. His 1.89 assist-to-turnover ratio is quite good for a big, and his rebounding is now quite decent, especially on the offensive end, where his rebounding rate is elite. His steals and blocks are a little down for this year, but I’m confident in his defensive game as is.

The Warriors should definitely try to retain Looney this upcoming offseason. He fits the team’s system perfectly and still has some room to grow. He’s a perfect role player in a league full of stars.