Toney Douglas played college ball in the vaunted ACC and cut his NBA teeth playing home games at Madison Square Garden. And he makes his living on the defensive end of the court. So he knows something about intensity.
His comments about Warriors practices, following Day 3 of training camp on Monday, comes with that context.
“Oh yeah. Every possession,” said Douglas, who signed with the Warriors in July to back-up Stephen Curry. “This is a different level. … We’re so deep. We have like 12 guys who could play. Blue team against white team, and we go at each other We make it fun and we make each other better.”
Coach Mark Jackson said being two deep at every possession, with some capable talent at the end of the bench, has made for some competitive practices. The drop off in talent on the depth chart is minimal enough to force the best players to go hard, yet the gap is wide enough to make the reserves have to step it up to earn minutes.
You better believe Curry has his hands full in practice, either being hounded by the pesky Douglas or trying to get around the long and athletic Kent Bazemore. Veteran center Jermaine O’Neal described going up against starting center Andrew Bogut as “a wrestling match.”
Forward David Lee and Marreese Speights, former Florida Gators, are buddies with a history of going at each other, and Speights has the skills to make Lee look bad if he doesn’t bring it. Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes are both having to contend with the All-NBA-caliber defense of Andre Iguodala.
And you know whoever second-year work horse Draymond Green gets matched up with is getting the business.
“We were an extremely hard working team in the past, and we’re continuing that,” Jackson said. “The difference right now is probably the battles at every position. … I think that’s what stands out the most. Last year we had young guys facing Bogut or David. … This year, there are big live bodies that are really competing and attacking one another.”
Warriors first-round draft pick Nemanja Nedovic has finally gotten his visa and is ready to join the team.
Golden State coach Mark Jackson said Nedovic was scheduled to arrive in the Bay Area on Monday evening. He is expected to participate in Tuesday’s practice after flying from Serbia.
Nedovic, who the Warriors drafted 30th overall, is already guaranteed a roster spot. But he won’t be guaranteed playing time.
“We’re a good basketball team,” Mark Jackson said after Monday’s practice. “It’s going to be tough for anybody to just come in and be able to play for us. But he’ll have an opportunity.”
Nedovic — a 6-3 athletic combo guard who has been called the Euro Derrick Rose — figures to be behind back-up guards Toney Douglas and Kent Bazemore on the depth chart.
Andrew Bogut has lost about 15 to 18 pounds. Draymond Green shed about 20. David Lee is now looking like he should be standing in front of Abercrombie & Fitch. Jermaine O’Neal is hardly looking like a guy entering his 18th season.
Clearly, the Warriors took advantage of the offseason. The improved conditioning has already impacted training camp. The pace is faster. The energy is high.
“They are in shape,” coach Mark Jackson said, “and now its just a question of developing chemistry and a sense of what we are trying to do on both ends of the court.”
He wants the Warriors to play at an even faster pace now that all are healthy and his big men are conditioned to run. Jackson said he isn’t content with just going small to pick up the pace. But he wants to run even with his big men in the game.
Jackson said since his guys – most of whom have been working out in Oakland since early September – came to camp in shape, he doesn’t have to worry about that. He said there’s no need to go “White Shadow” on them and have them running lines.
Instead, Jackson has already begun diving into the playbook.
They went at each other as kids on their home court. As preteens they went one-on-one full court at the Toronto Raptors practice facility while their dad was at work. They played pick-up games around the way as teenagers and college students. Every summer lately, they workout together, keeping each other sharp.
Now, brothers Stephen and Seth Curry, are facing off in training camp. The older a bonafide stud, the younger trying to prove he belongs at this level.
Think it’ll be different?
“We’ll see when practice comes around,” Seth said while flashing a sneaky smile. “I think so. We’ll see how it goes in an organized, practice setting.”
Warriors second-year center Festus Ezeli gradually made his way from stop to stop at the Golden State’s annual Media Day on Friday. Known for his athleticism and strength, he was reduced to a ginger pace.
“This is my first time walking without my brace,” Ezeli said.
Ezeli had right knee surgery in June. Per the team, doctors went in to “reinforce both the medial collateral ligament and posterior cruciate ligament…” He was initially expected to be out six to nine months and Ezeli said he is still on that track.
Warriors star point guard Stephen Curry has decided to leave Nike and sign a new deal with the up-and-coming brand Under Armour, according to multiple sources.
Curry will debut is new allegiance at the Warriors’ media day on Friday.
His contract with Nike expires at the end of September. His rising stardom, coming off the Warriors’ playoff run, prompted Under Armour to go hard after Curry. After months of negotiations with both companies, Curry made the surprising move to leave the shoe giant, who he signed with as a rookie, to become the face of the new kid on the block.
Many in the sneaker world will view this is a risky, gutsy move by Curry. Nike, according to a Forbes report in April, owns 34 percent of the basketball shoe market. The Jordan Brand, a division of Nike, dominates 58 percent of the market. Under Armour has 0.6 percent of the market.
Under Armour is mostly known for its football equipment. Curry is the big splash the brand was looking for to give its basketball line credibility. Other endorsers of Under Armour include Detroit point guard Brandon Jennings, Charlotte guard Kemba Walker, New York guard Raymond Felton, Sacramento guard Greivis Vasquez, Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan and Warriors guard Kent Bazemore.