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Alfonzo McKinnie’s emergence powers the Warriors’ bench

The training camp invitee worked himself into a key reserve role.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Chicago Bulls Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Alfonzo McKinnie just wants it more.

You can see it in the way that he fights for rebounds. It’s not enough for him to sky above everyone else on the floor. He must rip the wayward ball from the rim and slap it into his palms. His determination and desire is also evident in the way that he runs the floor, how he defends, and how he hustles on both ends of the floor.

McKinnie is what fans call a “dog”- that high energy player who will hustle, grind and do whatever is necessary to win. He’s that player that’s never forgotten how he started at the bottom, and revels in it as he fights, scraps,and claws for the minutes he’s playing. That kind of player and mentality that does not only get you playing time, but the respect of two-time MVPs.

For a Warriors’ bench that’s lacking in depth, McKinnie’s hustle on defense and the boards, athleticism and willingness to shoot the ball provides the spark that the unit desperately needs.

In the 26 minutes he played against the Chicago Bulls, McKinnie displayed all of what makes him a solid upgrade from Patrick McCaw. McKinnie plays better defense than McCaw, plus McKinnie isn’t tentative in his shot. And another plus, he’s also athletic and aggressive in the paint.

For all of the spark that McKinnie provides, the “fizzle” surrounding the 6-foot-7 wing is even more compelling.

One hundred and seventy five dollars may not get much nor will it get you very far. It only got McKinnie a tryout with the G-League’s Windy City Bulls after stints in the humid and humble gyms throughout Luxembourg and Mexico. What followed for McKinnie was priceless. After failing to stick long-term with the Raptors, McKinnie landed a training camp invite with the ‘Dubs. Going into camp, there were no real expectations for McKinnie nor was it a real chance that he’d make the roster. Yet he continued to persevere and earned the second two-way contract.

That was until the next fizzle. That two-way contract unexpectedly turned into a roster spot. McCaw, for whatever reason, does not want to return to the Warriors and was ineffective when he was in uniform last season. Just like a ball that’s spun out of the inside of the rim, McKinnie rose to meet the opportunity for a slot in the rotation and snatched it, making McCaw’s stalemate an afterthought game by game.

In the Warriors’ 116-99 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, McKinnie hustled his way into playing the entire fourth quarter. His line? 8 points, 8 rebounds off 3-for-4 shooting including 2-for-2 from deep.

“He’s really come in and seized the opportunity that was there for him,” coach Steve Kerr said recently of McKinnie. “He gets a lot of rebounds and a lot of loose ball, too. He’s very athletic and has a nose for the ball. I couldn’t be happier for him — and for us.”

McKinnie wants it- the ball, this opportunity and moment to carve out a place for him on the roster of the ‘champs.

He wants it more than others.

He wants it more than anything.