Jordan Bell made his preseason debut in the Golden State Warriors 118-106 win over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, and did his best to gain ground on Avery Bradley, Langston Galloway, Mychal Mulder, and Gary Payton II in the race for the 15th and final roster spot.
As I did after the first preseason game — and as I’ll do after the next three, unless a decision is made between now and then — I’m ranking the five candidates for the roster spot.
For simplicity’s sake, I’m assuming the Warriors do fill the spot, and that they don’t sign Mulder to a two-way contract, as he’s the only one eligible.
5. Langston Galloway
vs. Nuggets: 9 minutes, 5 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 foul, 1-for-4 shooting, 1-for-3 three-point shooting
Galloway was noticeably improved after his dud of a preseason opener. But he started camp behind Mulder, Payton, and Bradley in the Warriors guard depth chart, and the solid play of Chris Chiozza (who is on a two-way contract) hasn’t helped, either.
The veteran needs to turn back the clock to rise up these rankings, and so far he’s yet to do that.
4. Jordan Bell
vs. Nuggets: 9 minutes, 2 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 1-for-1 shooting
Bell looked solid in his first game of the year, doing all of the little things that attracted the Warriors to him so much when they drafted him in 2017, but also playing with the control that Golden State so desperately was looking for when Bell was younger.
It might be fair to say that Bell has looked the best of the players fighting for a roster spot, but he remains in an unenviable position. Kevon Looney is healthy, and the Warriors have been transparent about their willingness to play Draymond Green, Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Nemanja Bjelica as small-ball 5s. It just doesn’t leave a role for Bell, even with James Wiseman’s injury.
Still, there’s a reason the Dubs brought Bell back last season, and a reason they brought him into training camp. It wouldn’t be surprising in the least to see him sign a few 10-day contracts later in the year.
3. Avery Bradley
vs. Nuggets: 16 minutes, 2 points, 1 foul, 1-for-1 shooting
Bradley was again given ample opportunity, and again looked well past his prime. In 31 minutes of action so far this preseason, the combo guard has scored just 9 points, without registering an assist.
His chances of making the roster come down to two things: do the Warriors veterans think highly of him, and push management to keep him? And do the Warriors view his defense drastically differently than I do, and think he’s still a game changer on that end of the court?
2. Gary Payton II
vs. Nuggets: DNP — Hernia
It’s no fault of Payton’s that he’s missed the first two games of the preseason, but if he misses the third he’ll likely be leap-frogged by Bradley in the power rankings. I’d still prefer Payton, but it’s hard to see the Warriors keeping a fringe roster player without getting to see how he performs in the preseason.
1. Mychal Mulder
vs. Nuggets: 16 minutes, 6 points, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 foul, 2-for-6 shooting, 2-for-6 three-point shooting
Mulder didn’t exactly put his stamp on the game, so he partially stays at the top of the rankings by default. Unlike Bradley and Galloway, Mulder looks very comfortable in the Warriors system; unlike Bell, he plays a position of need; and unlike Payton, he’s been able to take the court in each of the first two games.
His spot on the team has always been dependent on the Warriors valuing his shooting over the other traits that his competitors could bring. After the team hoisted 115 triples in the first two games, you could make the case for or against prioritizing a shooter with the final roster spot.
But for now, it seems like Mulder’s spot to lose.
Who leads the race for the 15th roster spot?
This poll is closed
Gary Payton II