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sport / / BANG: The Warriors found a gem in Trayce Jackson-Davis

o BANG: The Warriors found a gem in Trayce Jackson-DavisAllen

BANG: The Warriors found a gem in Trayce Jackson-Davis


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From: (Allen)
Subject: BANG: The Warriors found a gem in Trayce Jackson-Davis
Date: Fri, 5 Apr 2024 15:17:11 -0700
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 by: Allen - Fri, 5 Apr 2024 22:17 UTC

The Warriors found a gem in Trayce Jackson-Davis
Why the Warriors are the perfect team for Jackson-Davis
>HOUSTON, TEXAS – APRIL 04: Amen Thompson #1 of the Houston Rockets
shoots the ball against Trayce Jackson-Davis #32 of the Golden State
Warriors in the first half at Toyota Center on April 04, 2024 in
Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees
that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to
the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo
by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Danny Emerman is a Bay Area News Group sports reporter
By DANNY EMERMAN | | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: April 5, 2024 at 5:45 a.m. | UPDATED: April 5, 2024 at 1:57 p.m.

HOUSTON — In the Warriors’ biggest game to date, at the Toyota Center
with a chance to essentially seal a play-in spot, with “Warriors come
out to play” chattering in the lead-up, Trayce Jackson-Davis delivered a
career-high 20 points.

None of it was unexpected. He converted a variety of dunks and buttery
finishes around the rim — off slips, rolls and alley-oop lobs — while
also blocking a shot and recording a steal. Since Jackson-Davis joined
the rotation, he has contributed on both ends.

But his production is still a revelation. Any team could’ve had
Jackson-Davis, whom Golden State selected with the 57th overall pick.
Now, paired with Draymond Green in the Warriors’ starting lineup that
has jelled during their season-high six-game win streak, the 24-year-old
rookie is making a serious All-Rookie push.

“Trayce and Draymond together, that changed our team,” Steve Kerr said
after the Warriors’ win in Houston. “It’s pretty dramatic, just the rim
protection, the rebounding that Trayce gives us, and what that allows
Draymond to do. It’s been really fun to watch them together. Trayce, for
a rookie, it’s amazing what he’s doing.”

For right now and in the future, Jackson-Davis is a major piece for a
Warriors franchise trying to extend its dynasty. Like many draft steal
stories, Jackson-Davis’ journey to Golden State took a healthy dash of
serendipity. But he’s now with a team that perfectly complements his
skillset — and vice versa — and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Being able to screen for these shooters, play above the rim, having
Draymond teach you, having (Kevon Looney) teach you, it’s great,”
Jackson-Davis told this news organization. “CP3, one of the best point
guards ever. It’s awesome.”

In 2022, after Jackson-Davis’ junior year at Indiana, he declared for
the NBA Draft. In the pre-draft process, he went to Los Angeles for
NBA-level training sessions. He could’ve boosted his draft stock with a
strong performance at the NBA Draft Combine, but a bout of COVID-19 hit
him right before the event, knocking him out of activities for 10 days.

Had Jackson-Davis not contracted the virus, or tested negative before
the combine, it’s quite possible he’d be on a team other than the
Warriors right now. That year, Golden State selected two players:
Patrick Baldwin Jr at 28 and Gui Santos at 55. The Warriors still
believed in James Wiseman, so they weren’t targeting young centers. And
Bob Myers’ front office had a preference for higher-upside, younger
players like Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga. A 22-year-old, 6-foot-9
center like Jackson-Davis probably wouldn’t have fit the mold.

But Jackson-Davis decided to return to Indiana to play for Mike Woodson.
Playing a second year in Woodson’s pro-style system, Jackson-Davis
became a consensus All-American. He registered 20.9 points, 10.8
rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.9 blocks per game — season averages matched
only by Tim Duncan in NCAA history.

The experience prepared the already polished Jackson-Davis even more for
the league. Mike Dunleavy Jr.’s front office used the 57th pick — the
second-to-last selection of the draft — it acquired in the Jordan Poole
trade on Jackson-Davis.

Jackson-Davis has been a fast learner, even in Golden State’s
complicated read-and-react system. In his first game with real playing
time, on Oct. 30, he recorded 13 points, nine rebounds, and four blocks
while being a +11 in the box score. Against Houston on Thursday, he shot
8-for-10 — plus hitting all four of his free throws — while swiping a
steal and swatting Jalen Green.

It took some time for Kerr to trust Jackson-Davis to handle Looney’s
minutes, but by December, the rookie had given his head coach plenty of
reasons to trust him. There’s a significant difference between the speed
of the NBA game compared to college, but Jackson-Davis’ four-year
Indiana career made his jump to the league less daunting.

What Jackson-Davis can one day become is tantalizing. While he’s a
steady player who can make a quiet impact in the margins, he also
flashes star potential.

His second-jump ability, defensive strategy against Giannis
Antetokounmpo and poster over Victor Wembanyama were Blake Griffin-esque
(but slow down on any Griffin comparisons, just ask Chris Paul). His
passing in the short roll has at times been reminiscent of Domantas
Sabonis — a player he tries to model his game after. His presence in the
paint and ability to guard two in close proximity makes it clear he has
been studying Green.

“Dray, defensively, is just insane,” Jackson-Davis said in March. “If I
can get just a little bit of what he has, I feel like I’m going to be a
great player.”

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The next steps for Jackson-Davis include developing a more reliable jump
shot — first from midrange, and then potentially from the corners — and
improving at guarding faster players on switches.

What he is now is a game-changing force on both ends. In his last 10
games, Jackson-Davis is averaging 11.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.7
combined blocks and steals per game. His presence in the lineup has
directly correlated with the Warriors’ 22-10 record since January 31.

The two-man combination of Green and Jackson-Davis has a 96.2 defensive
rating — the 10th best of any duo who has played at least 150 minutes

Playing Jackson-Davis with Green allows the latter to take more chances
in double-teaming and rotating. It lets Green use his generational
basketball I.Q. to turn an opposing offense into a pretzel.

“Just reading the game on the fly,” Green said. “It’s hard to do those
things at the five, because you’re anchoring everybody.”

This Warriors season is about getting the younger crop of players to
improve enough so that they can take the load off Steph Curry, Klay
Thompson and Draymond Green as they age. Jackson-Davis has embodied that.

“He’s an NBA-ready player,” Klay Thompson said. “The value we get from
him, at the (57th) pick is very special. Give our front office credit
for that. Give Trayce credit for just his readiness as a professional.
It’s very impressive. He’s had such an incredible year, I’d assume he’d
be on one of these All-Rookie teams — he’s playing that well.”

The NBA’s All-Rookie format calls for two positionless five-man teams
(with no 65-game minimum). Players like Victor Wembanyama, Chet
Holmgren, and Brandon Miller are locks. Cason Wallace, Jaime Jacquez
Jr., Keyonte George and Dereck Lively II have strong resumes. Even
Jackson-Davis’ teammate, Brandin Podziemski, ranks above Jackson-Davis
in some key advanced metrics.

But there will be room for Jackson-Davis to make a case. Since he only
started getting rotation minutes in the second half of the year, his
per-game stats don’t tell the full story. Among rookies who have played
at least 50 games, Jackson-Davis’ 17.4 points per 36 minutes rank fifth
(behind Wembanyama, Miller, Holmgren and Duop Reath). He’s second only
to Wembanyama in rebounds per 36. And he only trails Wembanyama and
Holmgren in blocks per 36.

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Why Jonathan Kuminga was scratched from big Warriors-Rockets matchup
Stage set for Warriors-Rockets matchup with major play-in ramifications
Warriors provide proof of concept with defensive gem against Mavericks

The last time a Warrior earned an All-Rookie team honor was in 2019-20
with Eric Paschall, who flamed out. Before that, you have to go all the
way back to Harrison Barnes in 2012-13. In that context, Jackson-Davis
is having one of the most productive Warriors rookie seasons in a decade.

Regardless of whether Jackson-Davis gets the external validation of an
All-Rookie selection, he’s on pace to be one of the best value picks the
Warriors have gotten in the Steph Curry era.

None of it is on his radar, anyway.

“At the end of the day, I just go out there and play as hard as I can,
let that do the talking,” Jackson-Davis said.

Click here to read the complete article

sport / / BANG: The Warriors found a gem in Trayce Jackson-Davis


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