On the bus headed to the game, Warriors’ second-year point guard Charles Jenkins said one of his veteran teammates, David Lee, shot him a serious look and a few words: be aggressive.
Jenkins responded by posting a game-high 24 points Saturday to carry Golden State’s summer league squad to a 95-74 win overDenver’s edition. He was 9 of 12 shooting, knocking down all six of his shots en route to 17 second-half points.
“Before the game, a lot of people were telling me play aggressively,” Jenkins said. “Don’t look so timid out there. Shots weren’t falling for some guys so I had to fill in the void.”
Jenkins’ performance was equal parts impressive and puzzling from the Warriors’ perspective.
It was impressive because one night earlier he was a consummate floor general. In the 91-50 win over the Los Angeles Lakers’ summer league squad Friday, Jenkins spent the game in the shadows. He made sure the ball was moving, looked to set up the hot hands and run the offense. He exerted most of his energy on the defensive end. You barely noticed him out there.
But Saturday — with rookie forward Harrison Barnes struggling mightily on offense, and guard Klay Thompson drawing extra attention fromDenver— Jenkins became a weapon. He scored 13 points in the third quarter, turning a five-point halftime deficit into a 68-62 Warriors lead entering the fourth quarter.
Which leads to the puzzling part: why doesn’t he play this way more often?
“It would be best if he knew when to choose which way to play,” said Warriors assistant coach Pete Meyers, who’s coaching Golden State’s summer league team. “I thought he had a good floor game (against the Lakers). But when he’s playing like this, he’s hard to defend.”
Most of the time last season, Jenkins looked like the player he was against the Lakers. Passive, mostly looking to be a facilitator. Especially when he was a starter, Jenkins rarely looked to make plays, conceding to the veteran scorers.
Certainly, there is something to be said for his unselfishness and ability to play his role. But those who know and love Jenkins’ game say he needs to be more like the Jenkins from Saturday — aggressive, opportunistic, confident.
Against the Nuggets, Jenkins successfully got into the lane off the dribble, leading to a game-high seven free throw attempts. Because of his strength, he can absorb contact and still finish. Because of his vision, he can find guys in the lane (he would’ve had more than two assists if his teammates did a better job finishing). On top of that, Jenkins’ pull-up jumper was clicking Saturday.
“He’s one of the best midrange shooters I’ve ever seen,” Thompson said. “And I’m not exaggerating.”
Jenkins said after the Lakers game, people kept telling him to be more aggressive. He said he got a text from a friend who asked him if he was alright.
No doubt, Jenkins’ task will be to balance the two playing styles, especially when he’s playing with the full roster. But the Warriors, who just acquired point guard Jarrett Jack, are hanging on to Jenkins because of his ability to be the guy he was Saturday.
* According to a league source, the Warriors met with free agent forward Carl Landry on Friday. Golden State is still on the market for a power forward to play behind David Lee. The Warriors have limited funds, shy of $3 million, to spend. But it turns out that may be enough to get Landry, who the Warriors have liked for some time.
No deal is imminent, according to the source, but talks are progressing.
* Thompson had a hot start, knocking down his first four 3-pointers. But Denver began bringing the help his way, which turned Thompson into a driver.
Thompson finished with 17 points on 5-for-14 shooting. After taking five 3-pointers in the first quarter, Thompson took just one the rest of the game. Saturday’s outing gave him a chance to work on his off-the-dribble game.
“I should’ve finished a few more of those at the rim,” said Thompson, who had six turnovers in 36 minutes of action.
Thompson won’t get another chance to finish better at the rim until training camp. Warriors general manager Bob Myers — who never really preferred Thompson play summer league — is pulling the plug on Thompson’s summer league stint.
Thompson, who participated in the rigorous TeamUSAtraining camp July 6-11, said he would like to play all the games. But after two games, the Warriors no longer want him to risk injury. Plus, Thompson out of the lineup gives the Warriors a chance to get a good look at a few other players.
* After a shining debut, Warriors rookie forward Harrison Barnes struggled on offense Saturday. He finished with 13 points on 5 of 17 shooting in 35 minutes. But Barnes’ still found a way to contribute, pulling seven rebounds and collecting four steals.
While he was integral part of the Warriors second-half surge, Barnes showed examples of why his athleticism was questioned during the draft process.
He had a tough time staying in front of Nuggets second-year swingman Jordan Hamilton, a wiry athlete who seemed to slither easily to the rim. On a semi-transition play, Barnes — dribbling up the left sideline — opted to slow it down. He seemed to have a slight advantage, and the Warriors would love to see him exploit that situation and make something happen. But that takes the kind of athleticism and ball-handling Barnes isn’t known for having.
Early in the fourth quarter, Barnes had back-to-back shots inside swatted away by Kenneth Faried, who easily rejected Barnes’ ginger flip shots. Minutes later, he missed another point-blank shot at the rim, followed by a missed power dunk.
Perhaps it’s a lack of athleticism. Or perhaps it’s experience, him needing to learn how to get his shot off and take advantage of opportunities. Either way, it’s a part of his game worth watching.
* Jeremy Tyler played just 9 minutes, 48 seconds Saturday. He went scoreless, missing two shots, and grabbing two rebounds. He had four fouls, three in the first 1:18 of the game trying to guardDenver’s Kenneth Faried.