Is Marquese Chriss the Answer at Center?
welcome to warriors awkward. I'm your host whereas beat writer Connor Laterna on today's episode of Warriors Off Court. I'm joined by West Goldberg. The warriors beat writer for the San Jose. Mercury News during our conversation Goldberg discussed weather. Markey'S CHRIS SHOULD BE GOLDEN STATE STARTING CENTER NEXT SEASON Dragon Bender experiment and much much west. We are here in section one twenty six chase center overlooking the deconstruction of the chaser floor is late. I I was about to say it's late Tuesday night. It's actually early Wednesday morning after the warriors hundred twelve ninety four loss the kings. Now we can touch a little bit on the game. I'm honestly not that concerned. With the result of this game it was the warriors seven straight to feed they're still the NBA team. They are well positioned for a for the chance of having a fourteen percent odds of the number one pick and jeans be draft even though Steph curry is poised to return probably March first. Which is Monday correct or Sunday? is coming up now. I believe it's Monday. So Steph we sorry Sunday. Forgive Me Listeners. I am an MBA. Radyr everyday is Wednesday. Today is Wednesday so especially confusing So we we got the and I'm I'm using air quotes here. We got the quote Unquote News Today. That steph curry is coming back on track to come back on Sunday That is obviously news. That we have reported It it wasn't is one of those newsy things that's not exactly news. But the fact that he is on track to return bodes well for the warriors wins or losses. Aside it just you. They're going to have a twenty five game or so runway with Steph to get him comfortable with Andrew Wiggins and the rest of his his supporting cast looking ahead to when he comes back to. You are the biggest things you're going to be watching. Most just how he interacts with the guys who do project as a possible. Contributors next year. And when I say possible I mean not because it kind of depends on how they interact with Steph right. I mean what is Jordan? Pool looks good He's looked great last games. How does he when the ball's out of his hands and it's steps hands you know? I like Damian Lee even blow off the ball and he's been sort of microwave score for them. How does he look when he's actually Steph Curry? You mentioned you Wiggins. That's a big one. He's going to have way more runway than a lot of these other guys but even like Marquees Chris who had a great game Against the kings tonight but He played so well next to staff during the preseason. That's kind of what got him From that training camp deal to regular contract at the start of the regular season how does he look again with staff? Is that chemistry is still there. Is that something that they have to figure out I think that that projects well I think the warriors are bullish on on. Marcus Chris. But there's a lot of guys I mean even like Eric Paschal. I mean when the when he's not able to put up As many shots and when he's not able to go into isolation as much because steph curry needs the ball he looked like next to staff. I mean that is to me what I'm looking. How does that ripple effect? Because we know that Steph curry affects the geometry of the court. He's one of these you know. Plus minus heroes one of these plus minus God's everybody always talks about him we all have the stats in front of us and everything like that. He affects the game so dramatically. He's going to affect these young players. Know it's GonNa be it's GonNa be fascinating because like you said. He changes the entire dynamic. You hit on an interesting point there. MARKEY'S. Chris had another sensational night. Tonight he was twenty. Had Twenty one points nearly twenty five minutes on eight for ten shooting along with ten rebounds and three assists. Six of those eight shots came within the restricted area. So they were pretty much all on dunk or alley oops For a lot of them from kyw Bowman seems like he has a nice connection with him. Also guys like Another guy like Jordan pool so just based off what you've seen from marquees since he came back and sign that two way a couple of months ago. Do you think it's fair to say that this guy can be? You're starting center on a championship. Caliber released contending caliber team. Next season. Offensively. I HAVE NO DOUBTS. He is great handling the ball. He's got great basketball. Feel which is untouchable and he showed that immediately In IN TRAINING CAMP. And the preseason especially with steph created the dribble handoff screen just knowing the timing of stuff that's hard man Especially with a guy like steph moves so fast and he's got like all these fast twitch things going on to be able to deliver the ball on a timely basis in a timely manner. When you've never played dude before is really impressive. And that's only GonNa get better and you know that projects well to play with a guy like Klay Thompson to my only question if if we're talking about highwire the elite centers when you really need get things going. Can he defend at that level when it's the western conference semifinals when it's the western conference finals when maybe it's Anthony Davis in front of YOU Maybe it's nickel Yokich in front of you Maybe it's Joel Embiid in the finals against you. I don't know that you can go at that level but then again. That's maybe that's why you've looney. Maybe that's why you go. Smaller draymond green at center. I don't know but he definitely be. And the warriors have done this the plug and play starter. Maybe that I do think that he is He's that you said something to me earlier. He's sort of this combination of Javale. Mcgee Andrew Bogut because of the ways a lot threat like Javale McGee is and because of his passing ability like Andrew Bogut. Maybe that's just what he is and right now in the regular season he could play twenty five minutes a night in the playoffs. Maybe that's down to eighteen minutes. Yeah I mean the reality is they. Don't WanNA spend big money on that center position Partly because the way the warriors offense is they that center position needs to be more of a fulcrum of the offense more of a kind of offense hobble. Your in your in the pain. You're you're kicking out to shooters and you're kind of good at finding those open guys but also you know thrown down lives and and what have you and so I actually think offensively. He is the perfect fit for for this team. And then like you said you know. Hopefully you kind of Hodgepodge together. Answers in critical moments defensively. Now if Kvant looney becomes the Kevon Looney of old which I still think is possible. That's your answer right. There I mean Kevon was that you know. The past. Two finals runs including a championship. Run you know when he's healthy. He's an elite small law versatile defender And I and he said it to us today. He's probably GONNA need this off season to fully get back right because it's so hard midseason when you're dealing with injuries he is to get better. You're just kind of trying to maintain so hopefully for him. If he has I was GONNA say two months but obviously since they're not making the playoffs is going to be more like four or five months to get his feet under get back right mentally and physically he can comeback and be kind of a defensive stalwart. I still think even if kvant comes back in CAN I. Is that level of player that he was last season. You Still Start Kvant just because of what are you still start marquees. Just because of what he provides you offense. Yeah I think we also have to take into consideration. The fact that von didn't even have last offseason right. He had the collarbone injury Was Collarbone Right. I've been up for a long time. Collarbone injury again after taking a shoulder chest from From Co i Leonard in the finals. And it's it messed him up. He played the rest of the series but a mess. Him Up for the entire offseason. So we didn't really have the off season to get better really do any of the work I wanted to do. Didn't get to do any Jujitsu over the offseason right. He had the Rehab. So you have that. Plus the hamstring strain that was complicated by the neuropathic condition that eventually ended up with an abdominal strain which he said that affects everything. Not just like my absurd after Ab Day. That is literally his core. Doesn't work the way it ought to. And so he can't do. Anything mentioned all the switch abilities stuff. That's all your core strength. That's all moving laterally for a big guy. You know to be able to keep up with guy. Likes guys like James Harden Damian. Lillard like he didn't last postseason. You couldn't do that stuff this year at all. And he looked slow and bad and he was bad and and it looks bad he was bad. Yeah he was just dad and he does end the warriors you know just signed him to a three year fifteen million dollar contract. That wasn't great and they need him what they were doing them. No and look and not only that but they had to do all this salary cap gymnastics right hard calf and like. Dade they really wanted. Yeah and you said it before it's impossible to get back to playing shapes so now it does look like he's starting to bounce back a little bit he's getting. I mean he played A season high in minutes Sunday and he played what fifteen minutes on. Tuesday there about So he's starting to get the minutes out there. He looks better He was he was a minus one against the against the Kings which was the best on the team since they lost by twenty points. So look I starting to get back to the kvant that they know and they thought that they were getting when they signed him to a long term contract so again. It's a kind of project forward if you've got marquee as you know if you're you're offensive option your offensive specialist at center and Von loonies or defensive specialist center and you go into this off season. Grab One more sort of traditional big when you have to play you know the Assan white sides and the owners volunteer Nisus and Joel Beads and Nikolay Yokich. Is You get like a legit traditional center like that. Then I think he got something I think that's a solid three-man sorta bullpen at the five spot. Yeah because I don't think you should be expecting anything from Allen's pilot next season Maybe maybe the next two seasons he has looked like a fish out of water. The past couple of weeks He had some nice moments early in the season. But it's just clear. He does not understand how to impact the game of basketball this level without the ball in his hands which is such an important thing in any NBA offense but especially the warriors offense. It'll be really interesting to see but I do think that it the growth and progression of Marquees. Chris does take some pressure off of the warriors to draft. You know a James Wiseman type in the draft you know. He's twenty two years old and it's it's crazy to think about this. The OB top at Dayton who has been linked to the warriors has a guy who the warriors yes. I'm not you know I hate to forgive myself credit but yeah no. I've I've written that many times. The warriors are big fans of only top-end. And he is going to be you know he's credible report that he's a. He's twenty. Two. I believe will be twenty three at the start of next season so he will be the same age as Marquees Chris so just to put that in perspective. A guy who is going to be a rookie next season could be a rookie. On the warriors. Next season will be the same age as mark. He's Chris so this guy has been in the League for four years right. This is his fourth year and He's still has so much growth in room ahead of him. I do believe that this is someone who can be a real franchise building block and I was. I was criticized so much when I wrote that several times. Based off sourcing reporting I have within the organization and then they cut him and everyone's like urinating of no idea what you're talking about we now know and and Marquees went on the radio today and confirm this that he knew the entire time he was coming back doors. He knew that they were gonNA bring when they cut him in Sacramento that he was going to turn down any buyout offer or any offers. Waivers is going to come back on the two way and then eventually signed a multi year deal and it went exactly according to plan right and look he prioritize something very important. He said you know what he he. News is GONNA have to sign a two way at first. And that's a lot less money than he was making on a standard contract And like nothing's guaranteed in this league. Marquees Kris knows that more than anybody at this point but he thought that the warriors gave him the best chance to establish himself as a meaningful player in this league where he was on the fringe of the NBA. Let's he got a training camp. Invite man like he would this former top ten pick. Yeah Number. Eight in two thousand sixteen. That's not that long ago With that sort of athleticism and that sort of skill that has Is is is is insane and so to go from the fringe of the NBA to a place that finally values what it is that you do well because in Phoenix and Houston and Cleveland. I mean they were either not playing him or ask him to stand in the corner and shoot threes. And it's like. Oh this dude is like one of the fastest centers in the League. He can jump out of the building. He can dunk He's great at passing like we were talking about before and none of those places use those skills and they just wanted to try to make them sort of this fashionable stretch five instead which is. Why did you draft him? If that's what you wanted. So he finally finds a location that uses him right and he's like you know what I have plenty of time to make money like you said he's going to be twenty three next year he's going to go into next year making a minimum ish contract but the warriors are GonNa presumptively be good again right At least going to be in the playoffs. They're going to be contenders in the West is GonNa be a whole lot better than they were this year. And then he's going to be going into An off-season so next year to be his contract here huge for him because he's only going to get better than what he's at now especially playing next Steph in clay. I mean there's a world where monkeys Chris goes after next year is averaging. Maybe I don't know ten points. I don't think he's GonNa have a ton of points that playing with all those guys. Maybe he's averaging something like ten points but he's also getting like five or six assists a game right. It's a lot of assists. But they use him so much in these in these triple handoffs and stuff dribble of fake assist like sort of handing the Vaulter steph curry with the way that that dude shoots. Maybe even if it's four assists that's still among the tops in the league amongst big men And that's going to want a big contract so he's setting himself up well for the future. Love more of my conversation with West Goldberg right after the break. If you've been listening to San Francisco City insider you heard from chased bodine months before his surprise election as the city's. Da You heard from the most love librarian in the country and you heard from the man who wants to remake Muny. I'm chronicle columnist. Heather Knight get to know the people who make San Francisco tick and see if you approve their burrito choices on San Francisco City insider one thing that I found interesting about his explanation of returning to the warriors. How that came about is it speaks to just how unique of a situation this warriors season has been. Because you know we we were there in Brooklyn a couple weeks ago when the warriors traded or news broke that the warriors were trading Alec burks in England Robinson. The third in that Locker Room Post game was downright distraught outbreaks in there. And you could tell. He was genuinely upset and Lynn Robinson had already left and everything we heard was that he was distraught and it comes out later that they're being treated to Philadelphia which is a playoff bounty. They're going from the worst team in NBA to a playoff bound team in Philadelphia. And you know win. Markey's Chris has the opportunity to kind of pick his suitor on the on the on the waiver wire he he turns them all down to come back to the worst team in the NBA. What do you think that says about this quote unquote warriors culture and just having been around the NBA? A little while. How kinda unique is that that exists. There are very very few teams. That and look I mean. Marquees is coming from you. Know Two of the three situations with very questionable culture with Phoenix and Cleveland. And even Houston. Pay Some what we've heard lately might not be the best culture either. I mean they do tend to get a lot out of role players but Not necessarily out of their bigs Unless you count. Pj Tucker which. I don't know if you do but I'm getting off track here so Look I I do think that the warriors culture does stand above most teams in the league. And I think that's a credit. Not only to. Steve Kerr and Bob Myers but just all the coaching Hires that they have made. There's not really a weak link. As far as I'm concerned on the player Development Staff on the assistant coaching staff. I mean. You've got a guy like Ron Adams. As now sort of this satellite coach who's around During Home Games and home practices and stuff. There's got Steve Nash. Showing up for practices. All the time. And things like that. I this there is a real culture I know you do a quote unquote culture I hate using that word because it's just so cliche but it's a real. There's not a better word to describe what it is it's a workplace environment. I mean this is what fortune five hundred companies seek to establish. This is what we are in Silicon Valley. I mean how many Silicon Valley tech giants have tried to create great work environments. The warriors have done that. They've created a functional positive workplace environment. That tends to get the most out of its players. And that's why they're willing to take chances on guys like Markey's Kratzer drug on bender or you know in the past Javale McGee Nikki on these kinds. Because they believe in that and they want to test that by the way that is part of it too. It's like it's easy to have a great workplace environment and everybody's all you know happy and cheering and stuff like that when it's steph curry and Klay Thompson draymond green and stuff like that but what happens when you bring Nikki on what happens when you bring them in jail. Mcgee or murky cruiser drug on bender like. That's when you really gets tested. It and I do think that that's what they're doing this year because housing year to do it and for the most part the results have been really good and have only sort of underscored that the culture in fact is is a real thing I can only think of a few other teams that can do what the warriors have done and can have that sort of reaction you talked about from Alec and Glenn in their organization. That's rare I've been around this team for years and I can't think of a better example than that night in Brooklyn when Bergson and Robinson retreated of just what makes this franchise special like to me. That was just a goto example. Because it's just so unique. I'm not sure there's ever been a team. Nba Has the worst record by a long shot in the league. That most players aren't trying to leave immediately like that is just. That just defies what you think. Sports are So it's it's interesting being able to cover a franchise that that's unique in that way and and you kind of led into my my next topic perfectly which is dragged bender. You Know He. There's some similarities there between him and Marquees just because they were together in Phoenix. They're both high draft picks Actually in the same draft I believe bender was fourth and then Chris went eighth which also speaks to like. What the heck are the sons doing taking to talk? Ten picks who are obsessively play the same position and have similar skill sets Like what are you doing there? And so they kinda pit them against each other in a weird way and then Marquess. That rookie. Season outplayed bender. And then that second season at times been outplayed. Chris and it sound felt like each other's playing time dependent on how well the other player is doing and so just like not really a healthy environment. But let's favorite thing to do by. The way is get two players at the same position just like put them against each other they did. That was Isaiah. Thomas and Gordon Drago. They ended up getting rid of both of them. Do Markesan and drag a bender. I mean they ended up getting rid of both of them because none of them worked out. That's the son's favorite thing to do right so the to me bender is kind of fascinating case study and just how the modern the modern MBA in scouting and how this whole process comes together. You know this was a guy who looks like the perfect big man for the modern NBA. He he's skilled. He's a good passer. He can knock down the open. Three Pointer He's he can get up and down the floor but entering the league until hasn't sixteen. He had very little experience. Level Competition at the international level in the Euroleague hadn't really wasn't even really playing in the array Israeli league. He goes number. Four is thrown in the fire. And in this isn't really ready for it but even though the suns are are saying that you know that we know this is a project they don't treat it as such they give up on him immediately. So what what do you think about? Just a lot. And then this isn't unique to the science even though their interiors for. Why do teams do that? I don't understand it. It's just bad business. Why do you draft someone? Knowing that they're going to be a long term project and then give up on them on thin two years. I think wall main when it comes to a team Phoenix or other teams. That notoriously do this it's like the Sacramento Kings It's because they have so many coaching changes and stuff. So like you know for Phoenix. One coach comes in is part of that draft room. They Draft Market Chris and Dragon Bender. And then they decide in a new coach comes in. I don't want any of these guys. And so I think that's part of it and the other part of it is the only in fifteen minutes on roster right so that definitely is part of it is not an NFL roster where you could just have sixty dudes and if some of them don't pan out it's a big deal And you know there's a lot of pressure to get the most out of these rosters so I do think that with a lot of coaching changes instability in the front office comes instability with your fifteen man roster and so that's that to me is huge I don't know If dragging going to pan out with the warriors but it is a really interesting case. Study to see. If it could like Markey's Chris's one thing You Know Andrew Wiggins is another thing. This strike and bender is sort of the the biggest test of if the warriors can save a dude right And Look I. I kind of waver with jagged bender. I don't know what is long. I think he's worth maybe another ten day contract you might even worth like a training camp sorta offer and seeing what he's got. I think this is a project a project worth pursuing but to me. He kind of feels like these guys. That just look great. Going up against a chair in draft workout He's seven one. He's like really seven one. He's kind of has the profile of good outside shooter. I mean yeah He's got all these things going for him but then in the game you know how he just doesn't really produce at the level that you think you ought to and that's sort of been the thing that's always dogged him and maybe it is just the fact that he hasn't ever gone against or really does have a lot of experience going up against top level competition like he is now in the NBA but You feel like there should be more and you watch them. And you're like Oh and you look down and you're like oh he's over four. Yeah like tonight. He played twenty. Five minutes was over. Four zero points in only in five rebounds. One assist like you saw a lot of those types of games with Phoenix. Where it's like your Disa- body on the core like you're you're not actually doing anything. And there's moments where you see the flashes of his skill level like he'll do a couple awesome things and then I'll miss the lab and it's like okay but you know part of being a professional part of being an NBA players finishing play and finishing the sequence. Like you can only get so much praised for doing you. Know a couple of cool moves into the REMINISCE MISSILE LAB. And it'll be interesting to see what the warriors do with him. I mean he's GonNa have What three more games? Now after after the The kings game Maybe you send him during the day and he gets a couple more games out of it but In that first game he looked pretty good against the Pelicans but he's playing the five. Because markey's Chris was implying markey's Chris comes back and they play dragon bender almost exclusively at power forward. It doesn't look good and he I think he's a five and they seem as a five to three. They talk about him as a five and tonight he had to guard Harrison Barnes and he just didn't look good he couldn't do it. Here's a great night so I I do think they need to figure out a way to get him more at the five. So maybe it ends up to like okay now. He's not playing twenty five minutes on another part of this was that they were without draymond. Green the last couple of games. So did you get draymond back which they expect him to come back Lakers then. Then you're probably play bender more at the five you're not playing them in twenty five minutes. If you're playing closer well you know over the next couple games. You know showcasing him and seeing what he can do it. The five should be a priority. You know over playing. Maybe you take some minutes away from Chris or Kvant just because you know right now in this moment you need to see bender can do I personally would not have an issue. If if bender finishes his ten days shooting fifteen percent from the field and they still bring him back on another day to me. It's that intriguing of a possibility and you should give it. Maybe more than five games Just to see how it shakes out but I could. My Gut tells me that this is going to end up. Being a situation that just kind of reinforces what we already knew which is he's unfortunately just not an NBA player. I I'm not saying I'm convinced about that but I do think I'm kind of leaning toward the fact that he's a guy who looks like an NBA player but isn't an MBA. I remember I. I grew up a bit blazers fan. And there's Gannon Victor Culver who the warriors are sorry. The blazers were really excited about. They drafted him late. In the first round he was over in Spain killing it and span and all Euroleague and everything and then blazers fans were stoked. They're like okay. We're GONNA get him. He's going to be a keeper. Tation piece he comes over. He doesn't do anything he just was nothing he could. He just made no impact on the game in any way and it just did not translate. You know. It doesn't always translate. Yeah I mean he's got an empty stats guys and then you've got like just empty is and he's sort of has been that throughout his career. I'm not ready to make any sort of Conclusion on him. But they need more so than anything deployment the five. I think you made a great point. Just now take five minutes away from you. Know Marquees Chris like we get it. We we started the showtime on Marquees. We do play like we know that he's going to be a major player. A major contributor next season give give some minutes deprive dragon bender. Take them out of the four spot if you really view them as a five because if you actually believe he could be a floorspace worth five spot and he's seven foot seven feet tall. You owe it to yourself to see if you can make that work because basically been playing forward his entire career and he needs to be playing center and you've got to put them there to get an accurate evaluation. So look know. There were things that were happening again. Draymond green out. You've Markey's Christmas one of these games. So I think going forward if you complain about the five get him to shoot the ball from three point range and get them more in those positions that you think he should be playing. You'll get better evaluation on them. And then you go from there and maybe it does involve a second ten day contract to get that full evaluation but when you look at the landscape of dudes that you could sign a ten day contracts. There's not a whole lot of guys with a ceiling. High Much Higher Than Dragon Vendor. I mean it's not like Kevin Durant sitting there for a ten day contract right. I mean these are sort of the guys. We're talking about so intriguing skill. Wise right he really. There's a reason why he went top five. Yes I don't blame most because the sun's no I mean it was a regional lottery. Pick but I totally understand why. A lot of teams loved him. I mean the warriors obviously liked it. You know Kirk Lake. Up said that the other day that they were fancy him in ended up. Now would they have used a top pick on him? Probably not but that also wasn't a super strong draft. You know like you know just like the bugs did a few years ago. You take the lottery picking you go give thon maker because they'll maker has a higher ceiling than other guys but obviously that hasn't panned out there. He is now I have no idea. Yeah he was last week Detroit. We'll look that up waiter but Wes I really appreciate you taking the time. It's always great chatting with you. Where can our listeners? Find Your your quality work. Follow me on twitter at W. C. Global. You can read my writing over at the Mercury News and you can still find on maker on the Detroit Pistons in the fact that we cover the NBA and we forgot that he was on the Pistons. Says all you need to know our thanks to West Guber for joining me on the podcast. It's always great talking warriors with him. Where's off quarters is a production of the San Francisco Chronicle Support Warriors off court in the newsroom? That creates signing up for Chronicle membership at SF CHRONICLE DOT com slash pod.