Why Warriors' JaMychal Green signing was 'critical' in free agency

Why signing JaMychal Green was 'critical' for Warriors originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO -- Before Andre Iguodala officially returned to the Warriors to wrap up his storied career that has lasted nearly two decades, the Warriors' bench going into the 2022-23 NBA season wasn't exactly rife with experience.

Including rookies Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Ryan Rollins, that unit consists of one 19-year-old, three 20-year-olds and a 21-year-old who missed all of last season. It will be led by a 23-year-old expected to solidify himself as a star. The average age of players Steve Kerr can pluck from the bench before Iguodala's final decision was 22.5 years old.

Between eight players, the group's average years of NBA experience pre-Iguodala was 2.25 years.

That's what makes the Warriors' JaMychal Green signing over the offseason so important. The pups badly needed a big dog to guide the pack on the road to repeating as champions.

"Thrilled to have JaMychal," Kerr said last week at Chase Center before training camp began. "I thought Otto Porter and [Nemanja] Bjelica last year were such important pieces to our team. Veteran players who just knew how to play the game. Good shooters, smart screeners, rebounders and that's how I view JaMychal. He's really an accomplished player.

"And especially given all the youth on our team coming off the bench, I viewed JaMychal as a critical addition to our team, so really excited to have him."

Over the offseason, the Warriors lost plenty of experience that their high-potential bench just doesn't have. Porter is 29, is entering his 10th seasons and has made the playoffs five times. Bjelica is 34, first turned pro back in 2007 in Austria, played seven seasons in the NBA and made the playoffs three times. Damion Lee turns 30 next month and is starting his sixth NBA season. Juan Toscano-Anderson and Gary Payton II both are 29, with Payton turning 30 in December. They've seen it all and became champions as Warriors.

They're gone, all five of them. The Warriors' second unit very well could be better this season and has more top-end talent on paper. But Golden State was left with a gaping hole of grit, know-how and earned wisdom on the hardwood.

Green is 32 years old. He's entering his ninth NBA season and has made the playoffs seven times. The Warriors have eyed him for much longer than this past offseason, and are well familiar with what he brings to the table.

The Warriors have faced Green 23 times in the regular season, and in three different playoff series. Back in 2019, a season where he averaged 9.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while shooting 40.4 percent on threes, Green went 12-for-23 from 3-point range (52.2 percent) for the L.A. Clippers against the Warriors in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. For the series, he averaged 11.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

All that sounds fine and dandy. Back to healthy from a wrist injury he dealt with last season in Denver, Green should be able to shoot the ball from deep much better than his 26.6 percent clip and a lot closer to his 36.6 career percentage beyond the arc -- especially with the open looks he'll get in the Warriors' offense. And it's not close to the main reason the Warriors signed him to a one-year, $2.6 million contract.

Once he gets his feet wet and feels more comfortable in Kerr's system, Green's teaching of all the small things and leading his young teammates by example should happen seamlessly.

"It's weird being the new guy," Green said Sunday during Warriors Media Day. "Being real quiet right now until I break the ice. Other than that, man, I feel like I fit in great.

"They play hard. They get after teams. Didn't realize how great of a defensive team this was. So just a hard-nosed team and they play the right way."

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Upon his arrival, Green mentioned multiple times at his introductory press conference that he's here to be a dog. The Warriors lost a piece of that from their heart and soul this offseason, and the Alabama native is ready to patch up any holes left behind.

From his playing days to his coaching career, Kerr knows exactly how important that is. Between JaMychal and Draymond Green, Kerr might have to corral The Bay's latest edition of the Bash Brothers, too.

"It's going to be fun," JaMychal said of playing with Draymond, someone who he first played with in eighth grade on the AAU circuit. "We're going to get under a lot of people's skin. Going to be a lot of trash talking. There's going to be a lot of bumping.

"That's what I live for. I love it."

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