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How TJD sparked Warriors’ second-unit surge in win over Lakers

In Sports
February 23, 2024

How TJD sparked Warriors’ second-unit surge in win over Lakers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – Steve Kerr talked about the prospects of the Warriors‘ second unit once Chris Paul returns from a hand injury that has kept him sidelined since early January.

Klay Thompson has already proven he still can be a huge factor after being benched last week, and Kerr sounds like he’s leaning toward rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis as the center of the unit as well.

Jackson-Davis showed why Kerr wants him with that group during Thursday’s 128-110 win over the Lakers at Chase Center that pulled Golden State within a half-game of the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference.

TJD put together his best all-around game in over a month, scoring 17 points to go with five rebounds and two blocked shots in 15 minutes off the bench, anchoring a squad of Warriors reserves that handily outplayed the Lakers with a 46-29 scoring advantage.

“You can see what that unit might look like,” Kerr said. “It’ll be great to get Chris [Paul] back and kind of put that group together and see how they do.”Historically, the Warriors have thrived when they’ve had a solid second unit. Their four NBA championships over the past nine seasons were a direct result of how effective Golden State’s bench played.

Jackson-Davis certainly likes the idea of being on that second unit and playing a key role. After all, there aren’t many teams who have two future Hall-of-Famers coming off the bench.

“For me it’s just all about working hard,” Jackson-Davis said. “I have a great connection with CP, I have a great connection with Klay. But that’s coach’s decision to decide who the best fit is out there. I’m going to leave it up to him because I know he’s going to make the best decision for the team.”

Jackson-Davis was figuring in significantly with some of Kerr’s rotations earlier this season but had seen his playing time dip over the last month. Before Thursday, when he played 14:50 minutes, Jackson-Davis had logged fewer than 10 minutes in seven games. He was also a healthy DNP in three other games.

Against the Lakers, however, Kerr leaned less on Dario Saric to back up Draymond Green and more on Jackson-Davis. TJD was playing so well, in fact, that Kerr could rest Green on the bench for a 12-minute stretch.

When Kerr was about to pull Jackson-Davis during one timeout, Green told the coach to stick with the rookie.

Part of Jackson-Davis’ success against the Lakers resulted from the connection he had with Thompson. Four of Thompson’s five assists went to Jackson-Davis, including one for an alley-oop lay-up in the second quarter.

Jackson-Davis shot 8 of 10 during the game, with half of his buckets coming off dunks.

“Trayce is such a good finisher,” Kerr said. “When Klay comes off inbounds, people are scared. They’re scared. They’re going to put two on the ball. He just knows that Trayce, after he sets a screen, if he slips and gets to the rim, he knows Trayce is going to finish. They’ve just had a great connection all year on that action.”

Jackson-Davis said Thompson told him earlier in the day what part of the game plan was.

“Before the game he actually came up to me and said, ‘Come and get me on pin-downs, ball-screens and transition. You’re either going to get a dunk or I’m going to get a shot,” Jackson-Davis said. “I feel like we have a great connection. I love playing with him.”

Once Paul returns, most likely on Golden’s State’s upcoming road trip, Jackson-Davis expects the good feelings to continue for all three men.
“We got the best pick-and-roll man in the history of the game and one of the best shooters ever,” Jackson-Davis said. “That’s going to be great.”
Asked if the prospect of being a part of that second unit with Paul and Thompson might put added pressure on his shoulders, Jackson-Davis shook his head.

“I think it’s the opposite,” Jackson-Davis said. “When they instill confidence in me like that, it just makes me want to raise my game to another level. Obviously, you don’t want to let them down, but at the same time, they give you confidence.”

The trio on that second unit could very well be a determining factor in how far the Warriors’ go into the postseason. It’s vital that Jackson-Davis keeps showing why Kerr wants him to be a part of it.

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