Brandin Podziemski produced one of the best performances of his career in an historic night for the Golden State Warriors' rookie on Friday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The 20-year-old became the first Warrior rookie since Stephen Curry to tally 14 assists in a game, with his abundance of dimes coming without one single turnover in the 121-101 victory at FedExForum.
Brandin Podziemski's continued strong play should provide the Golden State Warriors with further headaches ahead of the trade deadline
The 19th overall pick regularly gave up his own shot opportunities to find teammates in a better position, though he still added 12 points as well as seven rebounds in flirting with a triple-double across the second-half.
Despite coming off the bench, Podziemski's 34 minutes were the second-most of any Golden State player behind Jonathan Kuminga. With the third-year forward recording a game-high 29 points, the young duo proved the major storyline from a 20-point win.
Was there any coincidence that Podziemski's 14 assists came in the absence of Cory Joseph? With the veteran point-guard out of the rotation and Chris Paul still on the sidelines through injury, Podziemski enjoyed greater point-guard responsibility in the non-Curry minutes.
Golden State have always wanted an offensive facilitator with Curry off the floor, leading partly to their decision to trade for Paul during the offseason. However, the 38-year-old makes $30.8 million this season, and Friday showed Podziemski might be capable of fulfilling the role for a fraction of the price.
Steve Kerr's been hesitant to label Podziemski a point-guard this season, and maintained that rhetoric in describing him as "just a basketball player" even despite the 14 assists. Perhaps that stems from the head coach's long-held desire to play Podziemski alongside at least one of Curry, Paul or Joseph -- Friday's game was really the first time we've seen the rookie guard play meaningful minutes without one of that trio.
The man himself certainly thinks of himself as a lead distributor, stating after the game that "there were some times I could have laid it up, but as a point-guard you try to get your teammates involved as much as you can."
As the trade deadline approaches in a matter of days, should the Warriors explore a deal for Paul that may bring in a player in a greater position of need? At the very least they should look for an upgrade on Paul, knowing full well that they've got Podziemski ready to take greater point-guard responsibility if required.
At the same time, asking Podziemski to be a back-up point-guard come the postseason (should Golden State actually make it) is a proposition that may make the franchise nervous. Kerr, in particular, seems to love Paul and the 12-time All-Star did little wrong prior to his injury. All in all it makes for plenty of thinking for Mike Dunleavy Jr. and the front office over the next few days.