SANTA MONICA – The Warriors’ Klay Thompson will go up against childhood idol Kobe Bryant in a preseason game Thursday after the question was raised in the offseason as to who is the better shooting guard.
Thompson has improved his all-around game to the point where he’s in the conversation with the Los Angeles Lakers star, but the 24-year-old downplays the talk.
“I don’t know if I’m in his circle yet,” Thompson said. “I don’t have a championship. I don’t have an All-Star game under my belt. But yeah, it’s cool just to be known as one of the better shooting guards in the league to some people.”
Bryant, 36, played in only six games last season while rehabilitating from a knee injury. Thompson’s agent, Bill Duffy, is negotiating a contract extension and feels his client is right up there with Bryant.
“I don’t want Kobe Bryant to go crazy, but there’s some uncertainty as to who he is right now (because of injuries that limited him to six games last season),” Duffy told USA Today last month. “But I think Klay Thompson right now is the top two-way, two-guard in basketball. I think when you look at his body of work, when you look at what he accomplished guarding point guards on a regular basis (last season), I think it’s pretty clear.”
Thompson went to high school in Southern California and admires Bryant, who he doesn’t think pays attention to the Klay vs. Kobe talk.
“It’s almost like a dream come true when I’m playing against him,” Thompson said. “Kobe’s still one of the best in the game, so you’re always trying to measure yourself against the greats.”
SANTA MONICA – Steve Kerr’s first impression of Warriors guard Nemanja Nedovic was a player who wasn’t quite in shape at NBA Summer League and didn’t play well there in Las Vegas.
But after coming to training camp in better shape and healed from a fracture of his fifth metatarsal, Nedovic earned the coach’s praise for putting together solid practices and having his best game in the Warriors’ preseason-opening win Tuesday.
“When I’m healthy, everything is possible,” said Nedovic, who had 12 points and three assists in the second half against the Los Angeles Clippers. “I’m moving a lot better. I’m quicker, and my body just feels great.”
The Warriors’ first-round draft pick in 2013 will face more competition for playing time after Shaun Livingston returns from toe surgery. While Nedovic’s agent was quoted last week wondering if he would get a chance, the player feels he’ll get a fair opportunity.
“Yeah, why not?” Nedovic said. “Coach said he’s going to play the guys that give the best results, so my job is to give my best, to contribute to the game. It’s the coach’s decision.”
Nedovic said the front office hasn’t given him an indication on whether or not the third-year option of his contract will be picked up, adding that he wasn’t concerned about it.
“The biggest thing with Nedo is he’s just got to run the team,” Kerr said. “He doesn’t need to score. But we love the way he pushes the ball. He really attacked yesterday, put pressure on the defense, did a good job of getting us into our offense at the same time.”
LOS ANGELES — Warriors center Festus Ezeli said he plans to be ready for the season opener despite shin inflammation that has left him sidelined indefinitely and awaiting a reevaluation later this week.
“That’s the plan,” Ezeli said Tuesday. “As of right now, I will be.”
Ezeli said the discomfort he was experiencing is “very, very slight” after making progress since being shut down Thursday. After missing all of last season recovering from knee surgery, Ezeli has worked to strengthen his right leg.
But he cautioned that it was up to the team’s medical staff to decide when he returns to action.
“It’s not really something I can just push through right now,” Ezeli said.
SANTA MONICA – Warriors training camp invitee Jason Kapono despite having last played professionally in 2013 has been a busy man.
He and his wife live in Danville and are the parents of two sets of twins. The girls will soon turn 3, and the boys turned 1 on Tuesday.
Now the nine-year NBA veteran hopes to hang around with the Splash Brothers and bring his 3-point shooting expertise to a team whose general manager, Bob Myers, was once his agent for nine years.
“If I can get another year in and be on a quality team and have a good experience, it would be great,” Kapono said at shootaround before the Warriors’ preseason opener against the Los Angeles Clippers. “But I do understand this is a talented team with a deep roster, and they only have one spot left. It’s worth chancing.”
OAKLAND – Aaron Craft has been seen wearing a pink backpack as Warriors rookies often are forced to do, and it was former Big Ten rival Draymond Green that made sure the Ohio State grad got one with sparkles and a cartoon character on it.
“He came in the locker room with an Ohio State backpack,” Green said, the Michigan State alum smiling. “I went straight to the store and got the pink backpack. Tell them blame Craft, coming in with that ‘O’ on his back. Uh, (nobody) wants to see that.”
Craft and Green faced off numerous times in college. When Green was a senior and Craft was a sophomore, Ohio State clinched a share of the Big Ten regular-season title in 2012 after beating Michigan State on the road and preventing the Spartans from claiming the outright title. The Spartans avenged the loss in the Big Ten tournament, beating the Buckeyes in the championship game.
The Warriors signed free agent guard/forward Jason Kapono to a contract, the team announced Saturday.
Kapono, 33, is a nine-year NBA veteran who has averaged 6.7 points in his career, ranking fifth in the league’s all-time 3-point percentage list at 43.4 percent. He hasn’t played in the NBA since 2012 with the Lakers.
Kapono, whose signing had been delayed as he waited to receive his FIBA clearance, last played professionally in Greece in 2013.
OAKLAND – Center Festus Ezeli did not practice Thursday due to right shin inflammation that has caused him discomfort since July.
Ezeli, who also was held out of the team’s Tuesday evening scrimmage, was unable to play in the NBA Summer League because of the inflammation after missing all of last season while recovering from knee surgery in the same leg.
“That’s the hard part when somebody hasn’t played in so long,” coach Steve Kerr said. “You have to push them and see how they respond. If you don’t push them, you’ll never figure out where you are. So we pushed him a little bit the last couple of days, had a little inflammation, so now we back off.”