There haven’t been many negative stories about the Golden State Warriors over the last few months. That’s the treatment you earn when you win an NBA championship.
One of the few negative storylines has been the health of the team’s rookies. Warriors fans were excited to see first-round pick Patrick Baldwin Jr. and second-round pick Ryan Rollins at the Las Vegas Summer League, but neither youngster played.
Rollins was dealing with a stress fracture in his right foot. And Baldwin was dealing with something a bit more worrying: an ankle issue from an injury sustained in high school, which had limited him to just 11 games in his first and only season of college basketball.
Fans were, understandably, worried. And the Warriors were, understandably, quiet through the offseason.
But it’s no longer the offseason. The Warriors just wrapped up their second day of training camp, and hosted their annual media drain on Sunday. Both players were asked about their injuries, and both players provided lots of good news.
Despite not playing in Vegas, Baldwin said that his ankle has been fine since the early-mid July showcase.
Patrick Baldwin Jr. on his health after missing Summer League: "Physically I've been good for a while. Pretty much since Summer League I've been able to scrimmage and do things on the court with no restriction."— Golden State of Mind (@unstoppablebaby) September 25, 2022
It’s great news not just that Baldwin is healthy, but that he’s been healthy long enough to know that the ankle isn’t going to flare up again the moment he steps on the court. Two-plus months of health, while scrimmaging and working out, is great news.
Earning minutes as a rookie on a championship contender won’t be easy, and Baldwin seemed to understand what his role is to start the year. He also sounded dedicated to doing whatever was necessary to earn an eventual role.
Patrick Baldwin Jr. said he's had talks with the team about what it will take to earn minutes this year. Since it starts with defense and rebounding: "If you can defend for Steve Kerr, you can play."— Golden State of Mind (@unstoppablebaby) September 25, 2022
Rollins sounds like he might be a little bit behind Baldwin, but the important part is that he’s healthy, too. He made it clear that he’s been healthy for a while, but that it’s been a slow process to get back into game shape after the foot injury left him stationary for so long.
Ryan Rollins on his injury status: "I was cleared to start playing like 2 weeks ago. But it's been like a month-long, two-month long process getting back in shape ... I feel good, I've been out there playing during training camp."— Golden State of Mind (@unstoppablebaby) September 25, 2022
Baldwin and Rollins will enter the season as the 13th and 14th players on the roster (and 14th and 15th if the Dubs add a final roster spot), but that’s not to say they’ll be without opportunities. Injuries will happen, and the Warriors will be quick to rest players. Add in the garbage time that an elite team like the Warriors is likely to end up with, and we’ll surely see a fair amount of Baldwin and Rollins this year.
Hopefully they can stay healthy enough to state their case for more minutes in those opportunities.