Entering the offseason, one of the main priorities for the Golden State Warriors among most fans was finding an additional bench shooter, which we all assumed would mean exploring numerous wing options.
Last offseason, the Warriors took a chance on Omri Casspi and Nick Young, but the former fell in love with cutting to the basket and the latter is...the latter. Entering a wing-heavy 2018 NBA Draft, the Warriors sought a 3-and-D wing and ended up with Jacob Evans, who struggled with his shot out of the gate in NBA Summer League.
The thinking all along has been that the Warriors would be getting young, versatile, wings this offseason.
But after signing DeMarcus Cousins — who shot 35.9% from the 3-point line in two injury-shortened season with the New Orleans Pelicans — the Warriors have gone for a stretchy big again in reportedly planning to sign 31-year-old Jonas Jerebko, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Golden State Warriors are among the teams forward Jonas Jerebko will consider upon clearing waivers, league sources tell ESPN. Strong mutual interest.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 7, 2018
Forward Jonas Jerebko plans to sign with the Golden State Warriors upon clearing waivers on Monday, league sources tell ESPN. Jerebko has a $4.2M salary that would need to be guaranteed if he's claimed.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 7, 2018
Jerebko, a 6-foot-10 forward, was waived by the Utah Jazz after being left out of the rotation during the team’s impressive playoff run. Yet prior to that, Jerebko showcased the type of skills that make it clear why the Warriors would have interest in him.
Jerebko signed a two-year contract with the Jazz last offseason and had arguably the best shooting season of his career during the 2017-18 season through a combination of getting shots in the paint more often and shooting among the best percentages of his career from the 3-point line. He shot 41.4% from the 3-point line and had a career-high true shooting percentage of .586, according to Basketball-Reference. And when you look at the heatmap of his 2017-18 season from NBAsavant.com, you see that he thrived on hitting corner threes with the Jazz.
Jerebko’s story is one of a player who was initially able to take advantage of injuries to teammates playing significant minutes — first Joe Johnson and Rudy Gobert, both in November.
As described by Taylor Griffin of SB Nation’s SLC Dunk, Jerebko’s season with the Jazz really took off after Johnson got injured and the Swedish big man became an impact player almost instantly. For the Jazz, his shooting created spacing that was a fit with the rest of Utah’s personnel during his first month getting consistent minutes, as Griffin wrote.
His ability to spread the floor as a big has helped create some much-needed space for Derrick Favors, who has been on an absolute tear offensively since Jerebko’s recent increase in minutes.
When Jerebko is on the floor, the Jazz have an offensive rating of 112.3, which is the second highest per player in rotation. When he is off the floor, it drops to 102.2, a difference of 10.1 which is the second largest difference in on/off court impact among Jazz players.
After getting off to a strong start, Jerebko became a more consistent contributor and finished the season strong, according to Ryan Aston of The J Notes.
His minutes weren’t always consistent and he would notch a handful of DNPs over the course of the year, but, on the whole, Jerebko’s resurgent 3-point shooting, rebounding and overall effort were important facets to the Jazz’s second-unit attack.
Not counting Dante Exum‘s 14-game run at the end of the season, Jerebko actually logged the best offensive rating of all the team’s rotation players. The Jazz put up a whopping 108 points per 100 possessions when he was on the court.
The highlight of the season was probably a December game against his former team, the Boston Celtics, in which he had 17 points and 7 rebounds while showing off the range of his abilities.
For a team that has an offense built around the principles of pace-and-space, Jerebko makes sense as an addition to the Warriors. Although there’s still some uncertainty around the wing spot with Nick Young almost certainly not coming back, Patrick McCaw’s status uncertain, and the need to rest veteran Andre Iguodala during the regular season, Jerebko might be a piece that enables some different wrinkles in Steve Kerr’s rotation.
An interesting theme emerging from Boogie signing, and #Warriors interest in Jerebko:— feltbot (@feltbot) July 7, 2018
By signing stretch-5s, Warriors are finding efficient ways to slide their non-shooting big men, Bell and Looney, to the 4. And play Dray less at 5 as well.
Let’s just hope he doesn’t become another player who forgets how to shoot after joining the Warriors.
What do you think of the Warriors potentially signing Jonas Jerebko? Let us know in the comments!