Warriors’ Ognjen Kuzmic’s D-League dominance turns heads

EL SEGUNDO – Bosnian-born big man Ognjen Kuzmic concluded his postgame interview with some self-deprecating humor.

“Hopefully you understand something, guys,” Kuzmic said, knowing his English isn’t the greatest.

The Santa Cruz Warriors 7-footer had dominated on the court with a 23-point, 18-rebound performance to close out Los Angeles in a playoff series Saturday that any basketball observer could appreciate. He was 10 for 13 from the field, leaving Santa Cruz general manager Kirk Lacob tweeting about “#WiltKuzmic” and fans in the crowd “Kuz-ing.”

Golden State hasn’t offered much playing time for the 2012 second-round pick, but at Santa Cruz he is learning. Two days earlier in Game 1 of the series, he had 15 points and 10 rebounds.

“He’s one of those guys that kind of needs to experience it,” Santa Cruz coach Casey Hill said. “Like he catches the ball on the block and scores the first time, he’s going to be more aggressive because his confidence is up. He doesn’t, it’s going to be different.”

One Santa Cruz staffer paying close attention to Kuzmic is player development coach Brian Scalabrine, who was once an NBA big man on the end of the bench as well.

“It’s helped a lot because Brian, he was playing there (in the NBA) and he can understand, so he’s telling me what to do on defense and offense,” Kuzmic said.

Diamond Leung