LIVERMORE – Remember when LeBron James hit a game-winning buzzer beater at Oracle Arena in February? Of course you do.
Well in response, the Warriors sent Ognjen Kuzmic into the game with one tenth of a second left. With Andrew Bogut unavailable to play, the Warriors threw the ball in desperation toward the 7-foot Serbian rookie in hopes of a tip-in. Of course, the play failed.
Kuzmic hopes that with some hard work and development, he’ll have an opportunity to do more than make the occasional cameo appearance.
“I’ve been working (on) everything,” Kuzmic said Tuesday at the Warriors Basketball Camp at Granada High School.
“If I get a chance, it will be good.”
Kuzmic, 23, got most of his seasoning in Santa Cruz this past season, averaging 6.8 points, 11.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 28 games. He made brief appearances in 21 NBA games and also missed a month due while recovering from surgery to repair a right hand fracture.
Kuzmic said he has worked daily with head coach Casey Hill while putting in time with a strength coach. He’ll play with the Warriors’ summer league team in Las Vegas next month.
“It’s a good chance for me to show if I’ve improved something or not,” Kuzmic said.
Warriors director of scouting Larry Riley told KGO-TV last week that Kuzmic and fellow rookie Nemanja Nedovic remained projects.
“Kuzmic is long,” Riley said of one of the Warriors’ second-round draft picks in 2012. “You know, if you ask me which one of them has a better chance that in three years they’re a player who’s a roster player who’s a contributor, I’d probably go with the big guy, but I still wouldn’t give up on Nedovic.
“Those guys both have some development to do. School’s out. I can’t tell you when we could make a decision on what their future’s going to be, but would think we’ve got another couple of years of looking at them.”
Asked if they could contribute next season, Riley said, “I think they can contribute short minutes. They’re still developing, and they have to get better in order to do any more than play short minutes.”
Even with Bogut, Festus Ezeli and Jermaine O’Neal injured for the first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers, Kuzmic averaged only 2.7 minutes in three playoff games. He still could play a more important role for the Warriors in the future.
“Andrew, Festus, we can never have too many big guys,” Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob told KGO-TV on Sunday. “We’re developing yet another one on our roster in Mr. Kuzmic. And so we believe in size at every position and particularly center we believe in having a lot of depth and size.”