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sport / / NBCSBA (Poole): TJD's production, highlights make rookie essential to Warriors

o NBCSBA (Poole): TJD's production, highlights make rookie essential to WarriorsRobin Miller

NBCSBA (Poole): TJD's production, highlights make rookie essential to Warriors


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From: robin.mi...@invalid.invalid (Robin Miller)
Subject: NBCSBA (Poole): TJD's production, highlights make rookie essential to
Date: Tue, 12 Mar 2024 14:24:53 -0400
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 by: Robin Miller - Tue, 12 Mar 2024 18:24 UTC

TJD's production, highlights make rookie essential to Warriors

By Monte Poole

• Published March 11, 2024

The defensive plays that pleased the crowds and whipped his teammates on
the bench into a frenzy three months ago were not enough to solidify
regular rotation minutes in the Warriors’ lineup for Trayce Jackson-Davis.

Even after Jackson-Davis smothered a dunk attempt by driving Boston
Celtics star Jaylen Brown in December, Warriors coach Steve Kerr wasn’t
ready to commit to the rookie.

Eventually, though, analytics and foresight made the decision for Kerr,
who last week stated that Jackson-Davis is in the rotation to stay.

The 6-foot-9 center has been both steady and prolific while also
providing more spectacular moments – the latest coming during a 112-102
win over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night at Frost Bank Center.

Defended by Spurs 7-foot-4 rookie Victor Wembanyama between the top of
the key and the 3-point line, Jackson-Davis spun right and began
dribbling toward the rim. An impetuous move by any big man, surely a
rookie second-round draft pick not considered a ball-handler.

As both men took flight, Jackson-Davis threw his body into Wembanyama
and shoved the ball through the rim for the kind of poster moment Wemby
would rather have avoided.

It was as Jackson-Davis scripted in a pregame conversation with teammate
Kevon Looney.

“I told Loon before the game that if I got the chance to try him I
would,” Jackson-Davis told reporters in San Antonio.

“But at the end of the day, sometimes you dunk on people and sometimes
you get dunked on. So, it's just a basketball play.”

Well, no. It was more than a “basketball play.” Coming against
Wembanyama, a native of France, it was the latest NBA dunk heard around
the basketball world.

“To see him succeed and shine is a joy for me,” fellow rookie Brandin
Podziemski told reporters in San Antonio. “But the momentum shift ...
after he dunked that, the game was kind of over. Sucked the life out of
the building.”

The dunk, giving the Warriors a 111-101 lead with 1:13 remaining,
punctuated another night on which Jackson-Davis exhibited the immense
value he brings to Golden State.

Jackson-Davis totaled 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field, 11
rebounds and a season-high five assists over 26 minutes, during which he
was a team-best plus-20.

“He was incredible tonight at both ends,” Kerr said. “His paint
presence, rim presence, 11 boards, also had five assists. Obviously, the
great dunk near the end.

“Trayce is really giving us a different dynamic from that spot, and it's
really fun to see him growing and developing.”

In the four games since Kerr affirmed his commitment to Jackson-Davis –
with an eye toward the postseason – the four-year starter at Indiana
University is averaging 11.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks.

“Trayce ... man,” Chris Paul said on NBC Sports Bay Area’s "Warriors
Postgame Live." “Trayce such a huge element to our team because we have
so much shooting and ball movement. But his ability to play above the
rim unlocks everything for me, too.”

What Jackson-Davis offers is an essential ingredient as the Warriors
shift into playoff mode. Only he represents bona fide rim protection
against rangy athletes. Only he is a consistent enough lob threat to
keep opposing defenses on alert.

No less encouraging, though, is the audacity expressed with only the
slightest demonstration. As others gasp and swoon, rarely does TJD’s
face register exhilaration.

When two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks tried twice in the
same possession to test Jackson-Davis at the rim last Wednesday, he was
denied both times. Five days later, Wembanyama, favorite to win Rookie
of the Year, paid for daring to defend Jackson-Davis at the rim.

“They’re great players,” Jackson Davis said. “But at the end of the day
you got to just take on that challenge and you got to accept it.”

TJD is a fixture now. He is serving up spectacular highlights while also
bringing the essentials required for the Warriors to thrive down the

sport / / NBCSBA (Poole): TJD's production, highlights make rookie essential to Warriors


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