After spending their taxpayers’ midlevel exception on DeMarcus Cousins, the Warriors can only offer the minimum to players who would decide to join the championship chase. On Thursday, the Warriors officially signed the 31-year-old Jonas Jerebko to a minimum deal.
Jerebko is a 6-foot-10 power forward who is best known for his spot-up shooting. Last year with the Utah Jazz, Jerebko shot almost half of his shots from three, hitting 41.4% of them. He nailed 53% of his corner threes, a truly elite rate. The Warriors were last in the league in bench three-pointers last year, and can really use Jerebko’s spacing in bench lineups.
Jerebko rebounds and defends decently as well, and rarely turns the ball over. In a supporting role, he’s the kind of teammate who won’t make mistakes or yield clear weaknesses.
Signing Jerebko for the minimum is a similar move to signing Omri Casspi for the same deal in 2017. While Casspi was fine defensively and moved off-ball pretty decently, he simply refused to shoot threes. The strange disappearance of his once-phenomenal shooting eventually led to the Warriors cutting him in favor of Quinn Cook.
For Jerebko to be valuable to the team, he simply needs to be able to shoot and hit threes. If he continues his hot shooting from last year, he’ll easily be the fourth best shooter on the Warriors behind Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant.
What will determine Jerebko’s playoff value is his ability to play defense in the Warriors’ system. The Warriors prefer to switch every screen, and that will leave Jerebko on an island against guards in isolation. In last season’s playoffs, Jerebko didn’t log many minutes for the Jazz against either the Thunder or Rockets. He doesn’t really have the lateral quickness to stay with superstars like James Harden and Russell Westbrook in the postseason.
Also, Jerebko can’t play any position other than power forward. He’s fine defensively against other fours, but asking him to play out of position would simply not work. He’s not fast enough to play the three, and not big enough to play the five.
Jerebko’s value to the team will probably be highest in the regular season, where his spacing, energy and smart play will be beneficial to both the stars and other role players. The Warriors still need another versatile wing, and Jerebko does not fill that role. But he’s still a decent signing at the minimum: his shooting should provide immediate spacing to the Warriors’ offense.