Despite Steve Kerr's tendency to move him back to the bench every now and again, there's no doubting Kevon Looney's place as a staple of the Golden State Warriors over the past few years.
Since the start of the 2021-22 season, Looney has been the Warriors' starting center for 199 of a possible 231 games. He's been the one constant in a period where the other core players -- Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins -- have missed time through injury, suspension or any other myriad of reasons.
Kevon Looney's latest move to the bench may be permanent rather than temporary, signifying a franchise-altering shift for the Golden State Warriors
In a move that had been brewing for a number of games, head coach Steve Kerr favored Trayce Jackson-Davis over Looney in the starting lineup against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night.
It was no surprise -- Jackson-Davis had played more minutes than Looney in five of the six games heading into the Mavericks matchup. But while it was an obvious move for many, it's still a shift worth noting given Kerr's long-held faith in the 27-year-old veteran.
Despite the 132-122 loss, Jackson-Davis gave a good account of himself in his first career start. The 57th overall pick had 17 points, six rebounds, two assists and a steal in 29 minutes. He was a -4 in the game, though that was the best of any of the Warrior starters.
The increased offensive threat of Jackson-Davis was realised on Golden State's first offensive possession, with the rookie found by veteran point-guard Chris Paul on an alley-oop dunk in the first 40 seconds.
Jackson-Davis did get cooked in a number of 1-on-1 situations against Luka Doncic, but he wasn't alone as the Slovenian superstar went for 39 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists. Jackson-Davis was disciplined in not fouling and often preventing Doncic from getting to the rim -- it was simply that the patented step-back jumpshot was nothing but butter for the MVP candidate.
Looney came off the bench and played less than 11 minutes, his least amount of game time this season. The three-time NBA champion recorded five points and three rebounds, with he too finding little answers when switched onto Doncic.
So, is the move a permanent one for Kerr or, as has been the case previously, will Looney eventually wriggle his way back into the starting lineup? This time it's different -- whenever Looney's been benched in the past, it's usually thanks to Kerr's ambition to find more spacing with another shooting threat. Jackson-Davis doesn't do that, rather he's just a better interior threat (on both ends) than what Looney provides at present.
Sure, there'll be matchups that require Looney to play more, perhaps even start. If Jackson-Davis suddenly enters a rough stretch of form, the question will be tabled again. But for now, despite being just one game in, it's hard to see or justify why Looney would retake the starting center role. For most of the season he's looked like a backup center, and now that reality might be coming into fruition.
We'll see what comes of the shift but in the meantime, you can claim a $150 bonus from FanDuel Sportsbook just by betting $5 on the Warriors! Sign up, deposit at least $10 and bet $5 or more on Golden State and you'll get $150 in bonus bets win or lose. The offer won't be available for long, so sign up for FanDuel now!