There was a time when Warriors fans would hold their breath any time Stephen Curry went to the bench for a break. Who would take over and keep the offense going? Was there anyone reliable enough to trust?
A little over halfway through his rookie NBA season, Brandin Podziemski has provided the answer Warriors fans have been waiting for.
Podziemski added yet another brick to what has been a spectacular season when he finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and an eye-popping 14 assists in the Warriors' 121-101 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night at FedExForum. All while not committing a single turnover.
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Per Elias Sports Bureau, Podziemski is the first rookie in Warriors history to have 14 assists without a turnover in a game since 1977-78 when turnovers were first tracked.
The previous franchise record by a rookie for most assists without a turnover was 13 by Vonteego Cummings, who did it against the Clippers on Dec. 22, 1999.
Only five other rookies in NBA history have had a 14 assist-zero turnover game: Ben Simmons, who was the most recent to do it in 2018, along with Kendall Marshall, Kevin Johnson and Mark Jackson.
It doesn’t happen that often among veterans, either.
Golden State Warriors
Washington’s Tyus Jones was the most recent to hit those marks when he did it on Jan. 25 against the Utah Jazz. Indiana star Tyrese Haliburton has done it five times during the 2023-24 season. Denver Nuggets star and NBA MVP candidate Nikola Jokic has two on his resume this season.
“Just doing whatever the game calls for,” Podziemski told reporters in Memphis. “Coach trusted me with the ball in my hands tonight, more in the point guard role. I’m more proud of the zero turnovers rather than the 14 assists.”
Podziemski is capable of doing so many things well that he has developed into a Swiss army knife of sorts for Golden State. He has a solid jumper, isn’t afraid to get into the key and mix it up with bigger opponents battling for rebounds, and he loves to be a distributor.
“Brandin is great,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s just a basketball player. He’s not a point [guard]. He’s not a two-guard. He’s just a basketball player. And the ball-handling that we have on the floor when he’s out there with Steph is really important. And then when Steph goes to the bench, we really need (Podz) out there to kind of run the team.
“He just knows how to play. He’s had a great rookie season and he’s just getting better.”
Podziemski’s game will go on the national stage during NBA All-Star Weekend when he participates in the Rising Stars Game. But Warriors fans quickly have grown accustomed to expecting big things from the rookie in some fashion, no matter who the opponent.
“He brings a lot of energy and he’s a smart player,” teammate Jonathan Kuminga said. “While he surveys the floor he puts everybody in a good position.”
Maybe just as telling as anything is that against the Grizzlies, much like he has all season, Podziemski had chances to score himself but let the opportunities go by and dished off to a teammate instead.
“There were some times I could have laid it up, but as a point guard you try to get your teammates involved as much as you can just to give them some rhythm and some confidence,” Podziemski said. “I think that’s what I did.”
That and a whole lot more. And the more Podziemski does, the more accolades, honors and milestones are sure to come his way.