Brandin Podziemski

Podziemski gifted golden opportunity in crucial Warriors offseason

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SAN FRANCISCO – Brandin Podziemski showed as much promise and production by a Warriors rookie in quite some time throughout the 2023-24 NBA season. The 21-year-old guard became the first Warrior to be named to the All-Rookie First Team since Eric Paschall in 2019-20, and only the fourth to do so since Steph Curry earned the honor as a rookie 14 years ago. 

The Warriors’ blowout loss to the Sacramento Kings in the NBA Play-In Tournament left a bitter taste for Podziemski that only added hunger for someone whose many goals boil down to one thing throughout this offseason: Taking his game to the next level. 

Podziemski’s introduction to the NBA game was a mixed bag of results at summer league a year ago. The impact he quickly would make on the pro game wasn’t immediately evident at the California Classic or in Las Vegas. His shot that saw him sink 43.8 percent of his 3-pointers at Santa Clara didn’t immediately catch fire. 

Now a year later, Podziemski knows the mindset of trying to show Steve Kerr and the front office he can fit the Warriors’ system might have gone a level too far. Following such a successful rookie season he’s looking at his second straight summer league differently. 

“I think this year it’s just more of how I can maximize my touches and be as efficient as I can and make the guys around me better,” Podziemski said Monday at Chase Center. 

As a rookie, Podziemski led the NBA in charges (38), as well as being the Warriors’ leader in total rebounds (427) and plus/minus (plus-264). He was second to only Chris Paul in steals, fourth in total assists behind Paul, Steph Curry and Draymond Green, and fourth in 3-pointers – trailing the last season of the Curry-Klay Thompson backcourt, and Andrew Wiggins’ 91 threes were one more than Podziemski’s 90. 

Taking his game to the next level starts at the ground floor, beginning with an elementary skill on the surface for beginners picking up a ball. 

“Scoring the ball more,” Podziemski said without hesitation. 

“You guys know about my rebounding, my playing hard – passing the ball is just something that comes naturally to me,” he added. “So focusing on scoring the ball, shooting more. This was a big emphasis from Steve to get as many threes up as we can.” 

Point-of-attack defense also has been a focus. 

No single player is going to erase Klay Thompson and replace the franchise icon who has moved on to the Dallas Mavericks in free agency. Podziemski also might be first in line. 

Kerr’s first replacement for Thompson in the Warriors’ starting lineup wasn’t an established veteran but a rookie who had 46 NBA games to his name and 13 starts. From that point on, including Thompson’s first game off the bench, Podziemski averaged 8.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game on 43.3-percent shooting and 38.8 percent as a 3-point shooter. He took an average of three shots beyond the arc in that span. 

Curry averaged 11.8 3-point attempts per game last season, and Thompson put up nine per game. 

Nearly half of Podziemski’s points as a rookie came within 10 feet of the basket. In every aspect of the game he plays bigger than his size, and Podziemski displayed a combination of craftiness with his floaters and an ability to try and attack the rim. The Warriors now, entering Podziemski’s second pro season, need his offensive game to closer resemble what made him the West Coast Conference Player of the Year at Santa Clara when he was shooting nearly six 3-pointers per game. 

“Who can kind of get in that slot of shooting seven to 10 a game?” Podziemski pondered. “Because three is worth more than two but it also opens the floor for [Jonathan Kuminga] and [Andrew Wiggins] and it just helps them out a bunch too.” 

Since May 1, two weeks after the Warriors’ season ended, Podziemski has been working out at Chase Center. Back home during his few visits to the Milwaukee area of Wisconsin, he trained two-a-days with Travis Diener, who spent five seasons in the NBA. Whatever court Podziemski has been on he has been drilled through every possible shooting scenario from deep, whether it is running off screens, ball screens, off the dribble, dribble handoffs or catch-and-shoot. 

Think of a footwork action and Podziemski has attempted it these past two months. 

“I think for him it’s just showing the work that he’s been putting in,” Warriors summer league head coach Anthony Vereen said. “He’s an amazing shooter. We have confidence in him, and he has confidence to shoot. I hope you all see that as this summer league goes on.” 

Chase Center will continue to be Podziemski’s main place of work for the next few days as a member of the Warriors’ summer league team. In mid-June, Kerr approached Podziemski with the opportunity to be part of the 2024 USA Basketball Men’s Select Team. It was announced on June 28 that Podziemski and Warriors teammate Trayce Jackson-Davis made the 15-man roster that will practice against Kerr and Team USA from June 6 through 9. 

Curry, Kerr and Team USA play Team Canada on June 10 in an exhibition game. Podziemski, Jackson-Davis and the Warriors’ summer league team will be at Chase Center playing the Kings in the California Classic. Both are expected to play all four games in Las Vegas. 

He might be his newest starting backcourt mate, but Podziemski is most looking forward to battling Curry in Team USA practices, along with Jrue Holiday, Anthony Edwards and Tyrese Haliburton. 

“Any guards that they’ve got,” Podziemski said. “I think those are the primary four I’m excited to go against. But really just to see [Kevin Durant], [LeBron James] and all those guys – how they go about their day.” 

The ever-confident lefty will compete against a group that already is being compared to the Dream Team or better. His competitiveness is what shined brightest in his debut NBA season. He also is the rookie who came out and watched Curry for the entirety of his famous pregame workouts to be a spectator, observer and learner. 

Coaches and teammates laugh about his brashness, but he’s known in high regard by them for being an eager sponge. 

“I think this is a stepping stone,” Podziemski said of the USA Select Team. “Some guys that played on the 2020 Select Team like Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton are now on the Olympic team in 2024. Seeing that is something that I want to repeat so I can play on the ‘28 Olympic team.” 

Everything from his impressive and encouraging rookie campaign is in the past. Podziemski will have the ball in his hands and be the main option in summer league. He will be around the game's giants to prepare them for the Paris Summer Olympics. 

The Warriors are creating a completely new show, and Podziemski, barring a trade, has an avenue to be cast as a main character. All that matters, as he made clear, is reaching the next level.

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