OAKLAND (CBS SF) — After years of veteran big men playing center by committee, the Golden State Warriors will begin the season with three youngsters carrying the load until DeMarcus Cousins returns from injury.
Gone are Zaza Pachulia, David West and Javale McGee. In their place, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr will mix and match between Jordan Bell, Kevon Looney and Damian Jones.
And Draymond Green will not be starting at center to begin the year.
“There is no thought about who will be the starter (at center to begin the season),” the Warriors coach said. “That will unfold as we go. The only thing I can tell you is that Draymond (Green) will not be our starting center. I’m not going to start small and play that way all year. So opening night, the chances are it will be one of the other three young bigs — Damian, Loon or Jordan Bell. Could be by match up, could be how camp goes.”
Kerr said the youth movement will also impact how he handles practice time.
“The last couple years (with veteran players) we’ve sort of been in recovery mode for much of practice with our top six-seven guys,” he said. “We haven’t been in the situation where we got six or seven very young players who need work. So there is a clear delineation on this roster between youth and experience. The youth, they need work, so we are going to revamp the way we practice.”
Looney and Bell worked out together all summer in Southern California.
“I was in the gym with Loon working out together this whole summer,” Bell said. “We both definitely improved a lot.”
Bell also says he learned a lot from spending a year with those veterans.
“We’ll take what we learned from them (the veterans) on the court and off the court being a pro,” he said.
Jones, who spent a great deal of time with the Warriors D League club in Santa Cruz the last two seasons, said he can’t wait for the challenge to compete for more playing time.
“I think it’s a big opportunity to play,” he said. “To come in and showcase what I can do on the floor and playing to the best of my ability and see what happens after that.”
Green admits it will be a different look this year, but all three of the young bigs were contributors last season.
“With having a younger guy there comes with more athleticism, more speed, it’s the nature of the game we play,” he said. “It may speed the game up for us a bit, but not having a Zaza or a DWest…It’s different. It will be a different feel for us.”
As for Cousins, who is in the process of coming back from an achilles injury, there is no set timetable for his return to the court.
“All indications are that he is progressing well,” Warriors GM Bob Myers said. “He’s doing a lot of work…he looks good. He’s on schedule. What the schedule will be will probably be predicated on how he does when he starts going full speed…I know there is a narrative that we are going to save DeMarcus for the playoffs. That’s inaccurate. When he’s able to play, he’ll play.”
Cousins says he can’t wait until that day comes.
“Whenever I return will be a special day for me,” he told reporters. “I’ll just be glad to be back on the floor playing basketball again.”