Brandin Podziemski

Why Kerr sees similarities between Podz, Lakers' Reaves

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Warriors rookie Brandin Podziemski made a name for himself during the 2023-24 NBA season, having an immediate impact on a Golden State team that unfortunately fell just short of expectations.

But it's clear there's still plenty more to come from the 21-year-old, and Warriors coach Steve Kerr believes Podziemski can make shooting strides similar to another young guard in the Western Conference next season.

"I think it's very realistic," Kerr told reporters Thursday during his end-of-season press conference, discussing whether or not Podziemski can play more of a shooter role for the Warriors moving forward. "I think shooting is probably the easiest thing to improve, especially when you already have good touch. And, I mean, he shot 38 percent this year. But he wasn't necessarily a shoot-first guy. It was sort of an afterthought. He wants to make a play first.

"He's a different player from Austin Reaves, but I see similarities -- just having coached Austin this past year, in the World Cup -- they're similar sized, they're both a lot stronger and quicker than they look on the floor. Some of it is because their game speed is really high. They may not time well in the 40, but their game speed, because of their reaction or their proactivity on the floor, both guys, there's a lot to their games.

"Austin, I think, shot 32 percent from three his first year, and then shot up to around 40. I think most players in their second or third year who are already pretty good shooters make pretty big strides, because the game does slow down."

It's clear Kerr expects a Year 2 leap for Podziemski, which Reaves experienced during the 2022-23 NBA season with the Lakers. Reaves shot 31.7 percent from three during his rookie campaign, then finished his second season with a 39.8-percent mark from deep.

Podziemski, even with a similar size and style, already is a few steps ahead of Reaves after shooting 38.5 percent from behind the arc during his own rookie season. But as a first-round pick of the 2023 NBA Draft -- Reaves went undrafted in 2021 --the expectations are even higher for Podziemski.

And Kerr knows the youngster is up for the challenge.

"I think one of the things that we'll work with Brandin -- I already talked to him about it -- is becoming more catch-and-shoot oriented," Kerr continued. "If you're open from three, let it go. It's an area of the league where everyone's gotten smarter, shot selection and, you know, open threes are hard to come by. If you get one, you don't want to pass them up. I think that our young guys, it's something that they really have to adapt to."

The NBA is a league of adaptation, and that's something Podziemski certainly learned during his first season. After a campaign full of ups and downs, the only thing left for everyone on the Warriors to do is try and improve for next year.

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