To go along with the story I wrote about the Warriors taking Todd Fuller over Kobe Bryant. which you can read here, I did a side-by-side breakdown of their respective careers through Sunday’s games. Enjoy:
x Fuller Bryant
NBA Seasons 5 20
NBA games played 225 1,311
Minutes 2,500 47,717
Points Scored 835 33,029
Scoring Average 3.7 25.2
Best scoring average year 4.1 35.4
Most points in an NBA game 18 81
Three-point baskets 0 1,722
Rebounds 674 6,929
Assists 46 6,229
Steals 34 1,911
Blocked shots 60 633
Shooting percentage .422 .449
Free throw percentage .668 .836
College games played 115 0
All-NBA first team selections 0 11
NBA MVP Awards 0 1
First-team all-defensive selections 0 9
All-Star Game selections* 0 18
All-Star MVP Awards 0 4
Playoff appearances 1 15
Career playoff games 10 220
NBA Finals MVP Awards 0 2
Career playoff scoring average 2.6 25.6
NBA championships 0 5
*–Counting this season, in which he is the leading vote-getter for the 2016 game
To go with it, here’s a list of players who were still available after the Warriors took Fuller with the 11th pick in 1996 (all played at least 10 years in the league):
- Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
- Peja Stojakovic, Sacramento
- Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
- Jermaine O’Neal, Indiana Pacers
- Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cleveland Cavaliers
- Derek Fisher, Los Angeles Lakers
- Othella Harrington, Houston Rockets
Undrafted. Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons
Stephen Curry’s first contact with Kobe Bryant came when he was a 19 year old sophomore at Davidson University. He attended Bryant’s annual skills camp in Orange County and soaked in the knowledge of a player who had already established himself as an NBA icon.
“That was when I was a shooting guard, so it was cool,” said Curry, grinning.
The next encounter came when he entered the league in 2009 and actually had to play against Kobe. Curry readily admits his heart was pounding and he was awestruck when he stepped on the floor against a player he had watched so many times growing up.
“I got that moment out of my system maybe the third or fourth preseason game I ever played,” he recalled. “We played them at the Forum. It was pretty cool to be in that building for one, but also go against Kobe for the first time. After that, you kind of had to be ready to go. You can’t have that star-struck moment any more.
Here are five things we learned from the Warriors’ 128-108 win against the Portland Trail Blazers
1. The Trail Blazers have the utmost respect for the Warriors. “Obviously they’re on pace to have the best record ever, and I think they likely will get it,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said.
2. Stephen Curry looked fine. He wore some padding over his previously bruised left shin, but showed no signs of slowing down while playing on it. To say the least, that’s great news for the Warriors. His confidence could be seen as he threw a no-look lob to Andrew Bogut.
3. Klay Thompson was on fire and has been since the new year. His 19-point first quarter set the tone for the team, and afterward, he was close to expressionless discussing his overall performance. In other words, vintage Klay.
4. Brandon Rush is back, and those around him couldn’t be happier for him. He scored a season-high 20 points and was a perfect 4-for-4 from 3-point range. That’s one more three than he hit all last season. His teammates, especially the ones who saw him go down with the ACL injury that cost him his some athleticism and confidence, are glad to see a version of the old B Rush is back. He suffered waded through difficult seasons after the injury, worked hard in the offseason, and is making the most of his opportunity to start.
5. The Warriors were thrilled to see their fans in Portland. A lot of California natives live here, and they got loud. Don’t forget that the Warriors love Portland back. Klay Thompson grew up in the area. Also, Luke Walton’s father played here and was able to catch up with his son before the game.
Here are five things we learned from the Warriors’ 109-88 win against the Los Angeles Lakers:
1. When Klay Thompson gets hot, look out. This wasn’t quite to the level of the 37-point quarter, but dropping 22 in the first against the team he grew up rooting for had to be a special moment. There was no Kobe Bryant on the other side to face. But Thompson loves it when family and friends in Southern California are in the building. “Growing up a Laker fan, he’s always kind of enjoyed these games,” Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton said of Thompson.
2. Stephen Curry is playing through discomfort. This was obvious from the way he limped after getting kicked again in the shin. But it was also revealed in his postgame statements with talk of swelling and contusions and having to get and more treatment. He’ll keep on playing, but the season is taking its toll. “I’ll be alright,” he said.
3. With Curry struggling to get healthy, his teammates are stepping forward. Thompson has had big games in recent days. Draymond Green went on triple-doubles streak. It’s no coincidence, according to Walton, who says that every player has done more. “They see that Steph has been banged up a little bit lately, and every one of them…they pick each other up,” Walton said.
4. Green fell short of a fourth straight double-double, but he’s not worried. “I was just out there trying to do what I do…Oh well. I really don’t care,” Green said, adding that he didn’t feel he played well. Had Green gotten a fourth straight triple-double, he would have joined an elite group of names — Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Maurice Stokes and Russell Westbrook.
5. The Warriors won their 100th regular-season game since last season. That’s 17 losses since Steve Kerr and his staff took over.
Rumors that Steve Kerr would be returning to the bench Saturday night as Warriors head coach turned out to be premature. The Warriors announced Kerr would not be coaching against the Denver Nuggets at Oracle Arena and that Luke Walton would once again coach the team. Club media relations coordinator Raymond Ridder added that Kerr was puzzled as to how the rumors of his Saturday return even got started.
So while Kerr’s situation remains on hold, the Warriors did at least offer some bit of good news — Stephen Curry, who missed the last two games with a leg contusion, should be back in action against the Nuggets. He was upgraded from questionable to probable, and Curry himself said when asked, “probably.” After working out at the morning shootaround, Curry said he was feeling much better after a few days rest and treatment from the injury originally suffered in last Sunday’s victory over Sacramento.
Curry said the impact spot of his injury was on his left leg was on his shin but that it radiates throughout his entire lower leg. He said he thought he might play in the Houston game, but admitted it was a wise decision for him not to play.
Kerr was present at the shootaround but did not talk to the media. The coach, who has missed the first 32 games of the season due to complications from off-season back surgery, made his first extended road trip to Dallas and Houston and apparently came through that trip well. But his return remains a mystery.
Curry said Kerr was looking good, however, and when asked when he thought his coach might return to the bench, he said, “I’m guessing pretty soon.”
Elsewhere on the injury front, center Festus Ezeli (toe) and forward Harrison Barnes (ankle sprain) were listed as doubtful for the Nuggets game, while guard Leandro Barbosa (shoulder sprain) was ruled out.
Here are five things we learned from the Warriors’ 114-110 win against the Houston Rockets:
1. The Warriors closed out the 2015 calendar year with the second-best record of all-time behind — guess who — the 1996 Chicago Bulls. The Warriors went 72-12, won a championship and went on an unprecedented season-opening winning streak. Will 2016 offer even more?
2. The idea that Klay Thompson can’t carry a team, that he can’t do it without Stephen Curry took a loss at Houston. In his duel with shooting guard frenemy James Harden, Thompson came out on top and scored 38 points less than 24 hours after struggling against the Dallas Mavericks’ Wesley Matthews. Thompson was in fine form on the court and then afterward downplayed how much he cared about his belief he’s the best shooting guard.
3. Curry is coming back soon. He was in good spirits while sitting out the game and felt good enough with his left leg to shoot around before the game. That’s good news for the Warriors, who are without Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and Leandro Barbosa.
4. The impending return of Steve Kerr is a highly anticipated event. “When he does come back, whenever that is, I hope he gets a huge ovation,” Thompson said. Draymond Green smiled and said it’ll be a good homecoming. Kerr could be back as soon as Saturday’s game at Oracle Arena. First, he has to make sure he comes off the road trip refreshed and is feeling up to it.
5. Green, who always had the Tragic Johnson tag on him at Michigan State, was magical with his passing against the Rockets. Sixteen assists for the forward was a career high, and Green stepped forward when Shaun Livingston told him before the game that the offense would run through him and Andrew Bogut. With the Warriors running and cutting and getting easy baskets due to Green spreading it around, they looked like their normal selves even while short-handed.
Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green (23) and Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James (23) share a moment in the first half of a NBA game at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 25, 2015. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
Five things we learned from the Warriors’ 89-83 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers:
1. LeBron James has a lot of respect for the Warriors. He congratulated the Warriors individually after the game for a job well done, and the gestures were well deserved after he was held to 10-for-26 shooting. Festus Ezeli blocked his shot. Brandon Rush stole the ball from him. Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala were good against him once again. “I think they just continue to play the right way,” James said. “They’re playing some great ball right now and obviously are number one in the league for a reason.”
2. Stephen Curry has a right calf strain that he is still recovering from. Thus far, he has been able to play through it with mixed results. One game after scoring his season low in points, Curry had his season low in 3-pointers made with one. Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton also said the MVP would be rested if needed. “He reported to us if he felt anything in the second half, he was going to be done for the night, and he never did,” Walton said.
3. Andrew Bogut played well against the Cavaliers after being excluded from the last two games of the NBA Finals. He said he doesn’t care that it happened. But after all the talk of small ball, Bogut had a tremendous performance on defense and blocked center Timofey Mozgov’s shot three times.
4. Green continues to get the best of James. Even in the fourth quarter when he was whistled for a foul, Green snatched the ball from James on a drive. It was reminiscent of a blocked shot that Green had on James in the Finals. Those kinds of things just don’t happen to the former MVP. But with Green on defense, they’re possible.
5. Iguodala is more lively this season. He’s shooting better from 3-point range and the free throw line this season. He stripped James of the ball, picking up where he left off. He looks healthier with his knees, which underwent rehab in Germany over the summer. When Matthew Dellavedova dove at those legs in an attempt to steal the ball, Iguodala made sure to let Dellavedova know he wasn’t happy about it by using a forearm on the Cavaliers guard in order to help himself up off the floor.