After waiving Chris Boucher, the Golden State Warriors entered Summer League with a pair of two-way contracts available for enticing prospects. It seemed a foregone conclusion that Kendrick Nunn would occupy one of those spots, given his partially guaranteed contract.
As for the second contract? That one was wide open.
Well, it was when Summer League began. But someone has emerged from the pack, and is lapping the competition: Marcus Derrickson.
It’s fair to describe Derrickson as a poor man’s Draymond Green, gifted with a jumper. And it turns out that that’s a very good player.
Like Green, Derrickson is listed at 6’7”. Unlike Green, Derrickson is actually that tall. And, just like Green, he’s built from the linebacker’s mold, with the girth and strength necessary to bang inside, and the speed and agility required to bound up and down the court, and defend in space.
On Sunday, Derrickson put it on display. While the Warriors may have suffered their first Summer League loss, it was no fault of Derrickson’s. With no other Warrior scoring more than 10, Derrickson efficiently racked up 23 points on 8-14 shooting, including 2-5 from deep. He also added 7 rebounds, 1 block, and 1 steal.
But, as is often the case with such players, the stats don’t tell much, even when they’re complimentary. For Derrickson, the points came quietly - but the intelligence, comfort, and feel for the game was loud.
That’s worth showing off. Summer League is a massive convention of hyper-athletic specimens who get stuck trying to prove that they can jump an inch higher than the next guy, or shoot threes a tenth of a percent better. It’s not exactly a showcase of intelligent play, good decision-making, and healthy intangibles.
But those are what Derrickson brings to the table. There’s not much of a place in the NBA for a 6’7”, 250-pound player, but Derrickson knows that, just as Green has proven, there’s always room for versatile, intelligent players. Especially on a team like the Warriors.
After Sunday’s game, I asked Derrickson what he could bring to a team like Golden State. His answer, while clearly authentic, could just as well have been transcribed verbatim from a page in Bob Myers’ notebook titled, “What we’re looking for”.
Marcus Derrickson talks about what he’s learned about the Warriors in Summer League: “They’re the best team in the world, and they expect that from us” pic.twitter.com/eiuJIbQKvj— Golden State of Mind (@unstoppablebaby) July 9, 2018
“I’m just a ball player,” Derrickson explained. “I play the game. I’ve got a really good IQ, play defense, give you energy all the time, energy and effort every single night. I’m just a ball player.”
While it’s those intangibles - energy, effort, intelligence, and smart defense - that make Derrickson special, his bucket-making ability isn’t lost on the team, especially given his outside shot. After making 46.5% of threes last year at Georgetown, Derrickson has displayed a pretty jumper in five Summer League games. The ability to stretch the floor from a larger position plays exactly into what Golden State wants to improve going forward.
Or, as Summer League head coach Willie Green put it after the game, “He’s been a beast for us all Summer League. We know we can depend on him. Offensively, he can get a shot inside or outside; he’s been big for us.”
When the team waived Boucher, they made it clear that they want to use their two-way contracts on players who are ready to contribute immediately, as Quinn Cook was. At Summer League, players with sky-high potential that may or may not ever materialize are a dime a dozen. Players like Derrickson - who understand how to provide value through versatile, intelligent play on both ends of the court - are not nearly as present.
The Warriors found one. They’d be wise to hold on to him.