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Warriors to sign Ty Jerome

The Rockets released the former first-round pick after an eight-player trade this week. Now he’s in camp to fight for a roster spot - or the starting job for the Santa Cruz Warriors

Oklahoma City Thunder v Charlotte Hornets
Ty Jerome drives on LaMelo Ball, hoping the Warriors notice he’s trying to make the James Wiseman pick look better.
Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Why did the Golden State Warriors let mix tape star Mac McClung go? It had nothing to do with his play during Summer League or in Japan and everything to do with a recent eight-player trade between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets. In the deal, the Thunder dealt 25-year-old guard Ty Jerome to Houston, who immediately waived him.

While there’s no place for him on the roster of one the league’s worst teams, the defending champions were very interested, and once he clears waivers, the Warriors are planning to add Jerome to their training camp roster.

Jerome was part of the 2019 NCAA champion Virginia Cavaliers, scoring 16 points and dishing eight assists in the title game. He was drafted at No. 24 by the Philadelphia 76ers, but after two draft night trades, he ended up on the Phoenix Suns. After playing sporadically in his rookie year, Jerome went to OKC in the Chris Paul trade, alongside Forever Warrior Kelly Oubre, before the 2020-21 season. He averaged 10.7 points in 33 games that year, shooting 42.3% from three-point range, before his three-point shot deserted him last season - he shot 29% from deep. (In fairness, OKC was the worst three-point shooting team in the league, and had no post threats, so Jerome didn’t have a lot of spacing to help him out.)

The Warriors are hoping that last year was an aberration for Jerome’s shot, as he shot 39.2% on triples in three years at Virginia. He shot 79% on free throws, which is often an even better indicator of three-point performance in the NBA. In fact, Jerome’s college stats might underrate his shooting performance, as his Cavaliers played at an agonizingly slow pace, and he was the guy who had to take the “bailout shots” when the clock was running down. He showed off that skill with the Thunder as well.

He’ll fit in well alongside Steph Curry and Jordan Poole.

Jerome was a point guard in college, but primarily played shooting guard in Oklahoma, for two reasons. One is that he’s 6’5”, tall enough to guard most opposing wings. Two, he had Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ahead of him at point guard, along with points Tre Mann and Theo Maledon (also traded to Houston this week). He’s not an incredible passer but he’s steady, averaging 5.5 assists and just 1.6 turnovers his senior year, and putting up a respectable 2.7 assist-to-turnover ratio in the NBA.

The Warriors like tall guards, and one big difference between Jerome and McClung is that Jerome stands three inches taller and has a standing reach of four more inches. That makes a huge difference on defense, even though Jerome has a “negative wingspan” (he’s 6’5 1/2” in shoes, and his wingspan is only 6’4”), it’s two inches longer than McClung’s wingspan. Jerome’s less of an athlete, but he’s a better cutter and shooter, more likely to move without the ball and catch-and-shoot rather than drive to the hoop himself. He’s a very smart spot-up shooter.

The negatives? He hasn’t consistently shot the ball in the NBA, and he lacks ideal athleticism. Mac McClung had a vertical leap of 43.5 inches at the combine. Jerome’s was 26 inches. So he has short arms and he can’t jump - don’t expect a lot of steals or blocks. Jerome certainly doesn’t look intimidating, but he did grow up hooping all around New York City, including as part of Chris Mullin’s former team, the Riverside Hawks. How do you go wrong with a New York City point guard?

Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Clippers, 2014 NBA Western Conference Playoffs First Round
A great New York City point guard.

Oh, right.

Another negative is that Jerome had his 2021-22 season cut short by a groin injury. However, there was another training camp candidate last year who was competing for the 15th spot on the roster while recovering from a groin injury, and his name was Gary Payton II. Jerome has an outside shot at the 15th spot on the roster if he wows the team in camp, but certainly has the inside track on the starting point guard job for the Santa Cruz Warriors.

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