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Kevon Looney expected to play in Thursday’s season opener

The Warriors center hasn’t played all preseason, but is expected to see the court when the season begins.

2019 NBA Finals - Toronto Raptors v Golden State Warriors Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors have been without center Kevon Looney all preseason. Looney, who re-aggravated a summer hamstring injury during training camp, hasn’t played in a game this month, and has been limited in practice.

But you can expect to see him on the court when the season opens.

Golden State kicks off the year on Thursday, when they host the Los Angeles Clippers in the first ever regular season game at Chase Center. And Looney is expected to play.

At Tuesday’s practice, the fifth-year center told reporters that he’s “95% sure” he’ll be out on the court when the season kicks off.

The Warriors entered training camp with only two centers likely to make the roster: Looney, and free agent signing Willie Cauley-Stein. But injuries kept both players from logging any preseason minutes. As a result, the team waived wing Alfonzo McKinnie to clear space for Marquese Chriss, who had a strong camp.

Even with Looney returning, it seems likely that Chriss will be in the starting lineup on Thursday, since he played in all five preseason games.

Looney is coming off a strong year in which he averaged 6.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. But his best value comes on defense, where he established himself as one of the premier switching big men in the league.

Since teams seem to still value points per game over defense, the cash-strapped Warriors were able to retain Looney this offseason, re-signing the free agent to a three-year, $15 million deal.

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