In a night celebrating the future hall-of-fame trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, a few key injuries meant the Golden State Warriors younger players needed to step up in a big way.
That they did as the Warriors delivered an important 120-114 victory over the LA Clippers. Third-year lottery picks Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga were at the forefront, and so too was rookie guard Brandin Podziemski.
Golden State Warriors' veteran Draymond Green was full of praise for Brandin Podziemski after he played over 31 minutes against the LA Clippers on Thursday night.
Whenever called upon by Steve Kerr this season, Podziemski has been ready to go. That was never more evident than in Thursday's game, with the 19th overall pick playing over 31 minutes after being a DNP against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday.
As is his nature, Podziemski did a little bit of everything. His ability to impact the game in a multitude of ways has been impressive. He had 13 points on 5-10 shooting, finding a way to score in a variety of ways.
He cut back door on the baseline and was found by Curry for a layup almost immediately after he entered the game. In the second-quarter he made a tough layup off the dribble with his off-hand over an outstretch defender. His eurostep is becoming a signature, and it was again on show with another crafty finish in the final period. He also knocked down two of his four three-point attempts, looking more and more like the 43% shooter he was in college rather than the player who struggled during Summer League.
After the game, Kerr labelled Podziemski a 'winner'. That shows up in his rebounding, another eight on the night, and the willingness to put his body on the line. That was evident again in the second-half when he drew a loose ball foul from Paul George as he came flying in for an offensive rebound, then later drew an offensive foul on James Harden at an important point in the final six minutes.
For all that Podziemski does do, which is quite a lot, it's also what he doesn't do. Kerr trusted in him to close a tight game, partly because he doesn't make mistakes in a way most young and inexperienced players do.
In the postgame, Green lauded Podziemski -- his off-court attitude and his on-court ability -- for over 90 seconds. At the end, he was strong (to the point of profanity) in outlining how rare it is for a rookie to fit into the system as effectively as Podziemski does.
""He's all over the place. He reads the game. He's solid, doesn't make mistakes...That's a rookie, rookies don't blow up plays. They f**k up plays. He doesn't," Green said."
It's only early and there's bound to be some growing pains, but it appears like the Warriors got a huge steal in the first-round of this year's draft. For a franchise whose recent drafting has been fairly questioned and scrutinized, that's a huge win for new General Manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. and the front office.