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Podziemski: 1 invaluable player

Podziemski: 1 invaluable player

Brandin Podziemski shines with the Golden State Warriors. His attributes are impressive. Let us go, Warriors!

Podziemski: a star player

In basketball, “feel” varies wildly, depending on the team’s context, needs, and individual perspectives. It’s akin to making the abstract tangible – the definition is often subjective and shifts with different situations.

For the Golden State Warriors, defining “feel” is more straightforward. Generally, having a feel for the Warriors’ style of basketball means understanding how to integrate into their collective offensive approach.

Being “communal” on this team usually involves being a “connector,” someone who can link the beginning and end of plays. It also includes performing the less noticed yet crucial tasks: setting screens to free shooters, boxing out, rebounding aggressively, and proactive defense.

In a team where the leading scorers draw heavy defensive attention, having a good feel also involves recognizing and exploiting the openings this attention creates. An example is moving to the ball and driving inside when defenses overlook you.

Brandin Podziemski exemplifies this ability:

Take this scenario – the Warriors are attempting a split action for Steph Curry. But they face the challenge of a defended post-entry while Toumani Camara closely marks Curry. They have no options left until Podziemski takes matters into his own hands.

With Malcolm Brogdon not focusing on him, Podziemski moves to the slot, receives the ball, and uses Curry as a screen to drive toward the basket.

Such instances of instinctive play define “feel” for this team. It’s a quality players possess from the start of their careers or develop over time. Given the Warriors’ experienced roster and urgency to win, they value innate feel more. As they cannot afford the luxury of waiting for players to develop it.

This is why Podziemski — 20 years old, a rookie, and the 19th pick in this year’s NBA Draft — is a rare breed.

The box-score averages are modest: 8.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.9 assists on a shooting split of 51.0% on twos, 38.6% on threes, and 68.0% on free throws. But the minutes have been the stat that has stood out, considering his status as a rookie.

Compare his minutes per game to other young Warriors players’ rookie seasons:

Jonathan Kuminga: 16.9

Moses Moody: 11.7

James Wiseman: 21.4

Jordan Poole: 22.3

Kuminga and Moody were rookies during the 2022 championship season. And while they made their contributions, they faced more reliable veteran options in the pecking order. Wiseman — the second pick in the 2020 draft — was slotted in immediately as the starting center but had trouble fitting in partly due to an underdeveloped “feel” and sense for the game.

Poole was drafted in a year when Klay Thompson was out for the season, and Curry was injured four games in — which allowed him to play many games and minutes in a lost season.

While minutes may have opened with the absences of Draymond Green and Gary Payton II, Podziemski’s 22 minutes is with a roster that has a fully healthy Curry and Thompson — and yet, he has barged his way into playing time, not only as a rotation mainstay but as a starter.

And “feel” has arguably been the main factor behind it.

On this team, someone with an excellent feel for the game is a player who seamlessly connects the start and finish of plays. This skill involves understanding one’s role with the ball. Podziemski’s primary role isn’t just scoring; it’s more about passing and setting up plays for others.

He actively looks for Thompson, initiating handoff plays and setting screens to free up his experienced teammate. In the half-court, Podziemski takes charge, directing Kevon Looney to develop a wide pindown for Thompson, then quickly passing to Thompson to counteract the opponent’s aggressive defense.

His ability to accurately place passes to players cutting to the basket is crucial, especially against teams like the Portland Trail Blazers, who focus on preventing shooters from getting free off screens and handoffs.

Podziemski embodies the role of a “connector” on the team, bringing a surge of energy to their defense. His skills as a charge-drawer and defensive pest are notable. Even with his relatively short stature and modest wingspan.

In the absence of critical defenders like Payton and Andrew Wiggins, Podziemski has been responsible for guarding opponents. Like Anfernee Simons in a box-and-one formation, effectively limiting Simons’s impact in the half-court.

With the bonus of making a highlight pass to fellow rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis:

When evaluating Podziemski as a scorer, two aspects particularly stand out: his scoring craft and his ability to finish plays while playing off his teammates.

His ballhandling craft, featuring stable handles and deft footwork, enables him to create shots despite not having exceptional burst, athleticism, or height. He often finds ways out of tight spots, using counter moves to open up scoring opportunities.

As a play finisher, Podziemski excels in two ways: as a perimeter shooter, ready to shoot either one pass away or from the weak side, and as a downhill threat. He creates opportunities in the paint, scoring at the rim or finding an open teammate if the defense commits.

For example, in the “Angle Pop” set, a quick-hitting play the Warriors use to create an empty-corner screen-and-roll, Podziemski drives to the rim, capitalizing on his connection with Jackson-Davis, whose roll pins his defender and opens up the drive.

Since Draymond Green’s suspension and Podziemski’s move to the starting lineup, he has averaged 10.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 4.2 assists over 29.5 minutes per game. During these minutes, the Warriors have outscored their opponents by 36 points.

The succes of Podeziemski

More importantly, the Warriors have a 5-1 record in these last six games. While Podziemski isn’t the sole reason for this success. His significant contribution comes from playing his role almost perfectly.

Watching Podziemski, whether he has the ball or not, reveals the small yet impactful things he does to elevate his performance and that of his teammates. His exceptional feel for the game as a Warriors rookie drives this impact.

The Trail Blazers, having played the Warriors closely this season with two losses by just four points each. Faced a different outcome on Saturday. Golden State overcame a slow start and decisively beat Portland 126-106, extending their winning streak to five games and matching their best season stretch.

It was the usual suspects for Golden State again.

Stephen Curry delivered a stellar performance with 27 points, scoring ten in the second quarter and 11 in the third, helping the Warriors build an 11-point lead.

Klay Thompson maintained his strong form, contributing 28 points and hitting six 3-pointers. Brandin Podziemski came close to his first triple-double, ending the game with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists.

The Golden State Warriors have consistently outplayed Portland at the Chase Center, securing seven straight victories since 2021.

Notable performances included Chris Paul‘s impressive 11 assists with just one turnover. Trayce Jackson-Davis, despite ending his run of consecutive double-doubles, put up a respectable 13 points, five rebounds, and three assists.

The Warriors initially struggled to play back-to-back games, even though Steve Kerr had rested his starters for most of the fourth quarter in the previous game against Washington.

The Warriors’ second unit played a crucial role in regaining stability. Curry’s return in the second quarter was impactful, as he scored a three-point play and then added another three-pointer, pushing Golden State ahead 50-41.

This victory was significant for the Warriors, lifting them above .500 as they prepared for a challenging series of games. They were set to face Denver on Christmas Day, followed by home games against Miami, Dallas, Orlando, and another encounter with the Nuggets.

Here are three takeaways from the Warriors’ win over the Blazers:

The second unit provides another spark.

The Warriors continue to get big play out of their second unit. In particular, Podziemski, Jackson-Davis, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, and Dario Šarić. Podziemski was a plus-25 during his time on the court and anchored a second unit that provided stability on both ends that seemed missing when the starters were in.

The Warriors got significant production from the bench guys when they won their championships. This year is shaping up to be much of the same.

Shutting Grant down

Jerami Grant is Portland’s second-leading scorer. And was riding a nice shooting streak coming into the game before the Warriors combined to keep him in check. Thompson, Kuminga, and Curry took turns defending Grant, who scored 17 points on 5-of-12 shooting. Grant was held to two points in the fourth quarter.

Looney does it all.

Kevon Looney has seen his playing time cut almost in half in recent games. Primarily due to the progress and production the Warriors have been getting from Jackson-Davis. Looney didn’t score much against Portland but still made himself a significant factor with 11 rebounds and seven assists.

If you’re a die-hard Golden State Warriors fan like me, there’s always something to discuss regarding this team.

Be sure to visit the community page of our YouTube channel. On this channel, you will find various quizzes and polls about the Golden State Warriors to test your knowledge.

Also, check out our other videos on various aspects of the team.

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