“He connects lineups” – Golden State Warriors rookie could elevate into rotation role

Mary Raleigh

After a shaky start to his Golden State Warriors career at NBA Summer League, Brandin Podziemski produced an impressive display in his team’s preseason opener against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.

Given an opportunity to run the second-unit as a backup point-guard, the 19th overall pick excelled with his ball-handling, passing and pick-and-roll navigation. Combined with some some excellent defensive moments and it was an eye-popping performance from the 20-year-old.

Steve Kerr’s postgame comments on Brandin Podziemski may force a re-evaluation of his expected role for the Golden State Warriors this season.

Podziemski averaged 9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6 assists across five games in Las Vegas, shooting just 26.3% from the field and 21.7% from three-point range. Yet he look more composed on Saturday, picking apart the Laker bench with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists in a little over 26 minutes.

After conjecture on whether he’s a primary point or shooting-guard, Summer League and the preseason opener suggests Podziemski is a lead ball-handler first and foremost.

Yet head coach Steve Kerr wouldn’t be coaxed into an answer when asked post-game, labelling Podziemski as ‘just a basketball player’ before delving into his potential versatility in the Golden State makeup.

“He’s just a guard. I don’t know if he’s a point or a two, but he’s just a basketball player. He can definitely handle the ball and run a team. We’ll see where the season takes us but again, what I like about him is he connects lineups so you can put him out there with just about anybody.”, Kerr said.

Most would have put Podziemski out of the rotation mix after his Summer League performances, but his form against the Lakers may have suddenly reignited the potential of genuine minutes early in the season.

While it’s only one game against an LA team minus LeBron James and Austin Reaves, Podziemski’s point-guard capacity is an important feature for a team otherwise relying on 35-year-old Stephen Curry and 38-year-old Chris Paul.

Previously assumed third-string point-guard Cory Joseph is currently sidelined with a back injury, potentially opening up more opportunity for Podziemski in the short-term. Either way, he’ll be one of the most fascinating players to watch over the remainder of preseason.

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