One of the early surprises of the new season has been the play of PF/C Nemanja Bjelica. Although the team signed Bjelica during the offseason, he has apparently been on the team’s radar for quite some time now. According to a tweet from 95.7 The Game, GM Bob Myers said that the Golden State Warriors tried multiple times to trade for Bjelica last season.
For context, Bjelica played with the Sacramento Kings for the past 3 seasons. Last year, he found himself outside of the Kings’ rotation because the team wanted to find more minutes for their younger players. Since Bjelica was in the final year of his contract, the Kings had the choice of buying him out and losing him for nothing or trading him to salvage any value they could get in return. They waited until the NBA Trade Deadline in March to finally deal him to the Miami Heat for Moe Harkless and Chris Silva.
It’s interesting to speculate how Bjelica would have helped the Warriors last year. Not too long after the trade deadline, then-rookie center James Wiseman suffered his meniscus injury. The Warriors needed big man depth and eventually settled for playing small with more Draymond Green at center. Although going small suited last year’s roster better, it would have been interesting to see how Bjelica would have affected the team, especially after seeing how quickly he developed chemistry with Stephen Curry and Draymond this year.
Regardless, Bjelica is a Warrior now and so far, the results have been promising. He’s been tremendous off the bench giving the offense high IQ passing and floor spacing from the center position. His high IQ is on full display whenever he cuts to the basket as he quickly identifies where the help defender is coming from in order to pass out to the open player for a higher percentage shot. Bjelica did this several times during the Warriors 121-114 win against the Los Angeles Lakers in the season opener.
Bjelica's passing down the stretch just opened up the game for the Warriors. He made every right read off the Draymond passes. pic.twitter.com/ApPwxBjfZZ— Mo Dakhil (@MoDakhil_NBA) October 20, 2021
Bjelica is a great fit on this team and could be a big reason why the Warriors outplay their offseason expectations. The full Bob Myers interview with 95.7 The Game is worth a listen as he discusses Bjelica and other things prior to Golden State’s home opening win against the Clippers last night. You can find the interview here.