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JTA's well-earned Warriors promotion a reward for perseverance originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Juan Toscano-Anderson’s richly earned reward is coming, overdue but not too late.
With a little more than a week remaining in the regular season, the Warriors have decided to lift Toscano-Anderson from the limbo of the two-way designation and give him a standard NBA contract, a league source told NBC Sports Bay Area on Friday. Discussions first were reported by The Athletic.
Once all the contractual details are fully examined and approved, which will take a few days, JTA will become an official full-time member of the team that played its games a 20-minute walk from his childhood home in Oakland.
Toscano-Anderson has for months been a member of the Warriors in every other way. Though he began the season on the two-way deal – which means splitting time with the G-League affiliate, limiting NBA availability – Golden State coaches and teammates regarded him as an integral, if not essential, part of the roster.
“He’s not a two-way guy to me,” coach Steve Kerr said three weeks ago, after JTA played a large role in a win at Cleveland that gave the Warriors their only four-game win streak this season.
“You hope that (two-way) tag doesn’t last too much longer,” Steph Curry said moments later. “But while it does, he’s obviously playing way above that label.”
I recently asked assistant coach Ron Adams, in so many words, if he considered JTA a two-way player. “No, he isn’t,” was his reply.
Understand, Adams’ coaching career spans nearly 50 years, the last 25 in the NBA. He has overseen pre-draft workouts of, to name a few, Joakim Noah, James Harden and Jimmy Butler. Adams is frank in his assessments and he has a soft spot for mentally tough players determined to mine the best of themselves.
Toscano-Anderson fits that mold. Grit and perseverance are at the heart of his game. Those characteristics are why he is, two months after turning 28, a few signatures away from having an NBA contract.
JTA quickly established himself, at 6-foot-6, 210 pounds, as the team’s most versatile reserve, playing as many as four positions. He’s probably the most valuable backup, too, and is averaging 5.4 points per game, 4.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists.
Toscano-Anderson was highly effective in a 113-97 win over Oklahoma City on Thursday night, with seven points, nine rebounds, eight assists in 32 minutes off the bench.
“Juan was great,” Kerr said. “Juan did what he does. He moved the ball and he had eight assists . . . always moving, always creating plays just with his movement, on and off-the-ball. He's one of those guys who just makes the game easier for everyone. He's a big reason why we've played pretty well here the last month because Juan has given us great minutes night in and night out.”
JTA has become a fixture in the rotation this season and should be for the next few years. Length and terms of his contract still are being negotiated, but coaches and team leaders believe it would behoove the Warriors to make it a multiyear deal.
They all know what makes JTA tick, and that desire, along with his ability to outplay his numbers, have made him a fan favorite.
“Regardless of what shows up on the stat sheet, or regardless what my percentages are, it’s about (my) value on the team, (my) presence on the team,” Toscano-Anderson said recently, recalling his headfirst dive over the scorer’s table that resulted in a concussion. “I want my teammates to know that I’m going to die trying to win.”
There is nothing to indicate reason for doubt.
After playing four years in Mexico, Toscano-Anderson’s two-year rise from the G League tryout to the NBA ranks is nothing less than remarkable. An Exhibit 10 contract in September 2019. Waived a month later. Re-signed four months after that. A two-way contract last December. And now this.
JTA’s professional odyssey finally has reached its destination, which happens to be where it started. All that remains is the proof in the paperwork. And that’s coming.