Warriors’ ball-handling options on display in blowout win vs. Blazers


SAN FRANCISCO — Ron Adams, with a lifetime of basketball knowledge, walked down the stairs to the Warriors’ locker room Tuesday night, turned to Steve Kerr and had a message for the Warriors coach: These guys can play.

That was the reaction after the Warriors’ 131-98 dominant blowout preseason win over the Portland Trail Blazers at Chase Center. That was the notion in a game where the Warriors were without Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Kevon Looney.

“Beautiful night of basketball. Really fun to watch,” Kerr said.

Without their engine that ignites the offense (Green) and their top two playmakers (Curry and Poole), the Warriors continued to showcase what has been evident throughout training camp and the offseason. This is a group full of playmakers and full of high-IQ guys, one that features multiple ball handlers and not many ball-stoppers.

During the regular season and playoffs, the Warriors’ magic number when it comes to assists is 30. Against the Blazers, they dished out 33. It was the first time the Warriors hit the 30-assist mark this preseason, and the unselfishness was spearheaded. by a newcomer who continues to look like the perfect fit.

Donte DiVincenzo was given the start at point guard, alongside Moses Moody, Jonathan Kuminga, JaMychal Green and James Wiseman. The Warriors’ first two points of the game, a nifty finish by Wiseman, were assisted by DiVincenzo. So was their third. In the first quarter alone, DiVincenzo had four assists.

He finished the night with a game-high 10 assists. DiVincenzo is entering his fifth year as a pro. In his fourth preseason game and first start as a Warrior, he reached double-digit assists. Previously, he never racked up that many in an NBA game.

“You look out there tonight and boy, Donte DiVincenzo can play,” Kerr said as he raved about the Warriors’ depth.

The newcomer wasn’t alone, though. All but two players — Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Anthony Lamb — recorded an assist for the Warriors. Behind DiVincenzo’s 10 dimes were five distributed by rookie Ryan Rollins. Tuesday night was by far the most run that the second-rounder has received in the preseason, and he stepped up with a bigger opportunity.

Rollins played 16 minutes, and along with his five assists, he also scored 12 points while going 5-for-7 from the field and swiped two steals. His plus-15 in plus-minus led the bench.

One of the main reasons the Warriors brought Ty Jerome in after waiving Mac McClung is that Jerome is much more of a point guard and ball mover than McClung’s highlight-reel style. Jerome in his second preseason game added three assists off the bench and made two of his five shots from long distance.

Quinndary Weatherspoon, who owns one of the Warriors’ two two-way contracts and is a franchise favorite, totaled three assists and was a plus-14.

“The ball was moving, players were moving — just beautiful basketball,” Kerr said.

Every year it feels like the Warriors are searching for ball handlers behind Curry and those at the top of the pyramid. Kerr shouldn’t have to do too much scavenging this season.

The Warriors’ system is the closest to Villanova’s that DiVincenzo has been a part of, and he’s all for having more responsibilities with the ball in his hands. Poole of course will hold that role as Golden State’s Sixth Man and primary playmaker off the bench, but he’s continuing to learn how to play off the ball like Curry. He and DiVincenzo should be able to complement each other extremely well with their offensive versatility.

Prior to Tuesday night, Rollins looked raw in the opportunities he was given, and that’s understandable. He turned 20 years old this past July and he was always seen as a long-term player when the Warriors traded up in the draft to select him. But with more freedom to operate, Rollins gave us a glimpse of what he can turn into.

Baldwin, still 19, is far from the bottom of the list when it comes to basketball intelligence on the Warriors. His offensive game naturally leans towards scoring, although he’s nowhere close to a ball-stopper. The Warriors’ biggest culprit of that crime is Kuminga, who turned 20 earlier this month and whose overall skill set still led to him being a game-high plus-31 vs. the Blazers, despite going 3-for-9 overall and 1-for-5 on threes.

RELATED: With Poole’s blessing, Warriors placing trust in Draymond

On any given night, Kerr can turn to Curry, Green, Poole, DiVincenzo or Iguodala to initiate the offense. Moody can find himself in that spot too. Rollins should one day, and others look up to the task.

From top to bottom, from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, the Warriors have surrounded themselves with playmakers, shot creators and unselfish play. That was on display in their biggest win of the preseason, one where the stars could sit back on the sidelines and jump out of their seats for their teammates.

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