SACRAMENTO – The objective going into Brandin Podziemski’s first NBA Summer League was simple, yet ambitious. It also fell short after only one game.
Taken No. 19 overall in the 2023 NBA Draft, the Warriors’ first-round pick was zeroed in on going a perfect 7-0 between Sacramento and Las Vegas. Podziemski and the Warriors’ slow start Monday night at Golden 1 Center was too much to overcome, falling to the Sacramento Kings, 100-94, in the first of Golden State’s two California Classic games.
What opened Podziemski’s eyes most in his first experience of an NBA atmosphere won’t be the same a couple months from now.
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“There’s a lot of fouls,” Podziemski said.
The Warriors were whistled for 26 fouls, one fewer than the 27 called on the Kings. The Kings won the battle at the free-throw line though, going 23 of 30, compared to the Warriors making 14 of their 17 attempts. Players are allowed up to 10 fouls in summer league, and Podziemski’s three would have given him plenty of wiggle room in an NBA regular-season game.
Podziemski wasn’t surprised by the speed or pace of the game, feeling like those are areas he has been preparing for. The Warriors will be back on the floor Wednesday at 3 p.m. PT against the Charlotte Hornets and he knows one aspect of his game he’s hoping to change from the start. Sharing the backcourt alongside Lester Quinones, Podziemski played more of a true point guard role and wants to be much more aggressive early on for Warriors coach Jacob Rubin.
“I think that’s just a mindset thing,” Podziemski said. “First couple of quarters I was kind of just feeling it out and seeing what my teammates were doing. And then in the fourth quarter I just started playing aggressive, and the more aggressive you are, the more things open up for your teammates.”
Golden State Warriors
Through the first three quarters, Podziemski only had four points. The lefty missed his first four shots, and his first points came from a goaltending call off a left-handed layup attempt on the right side of the basket. Then came the fourth quarter, where Podziemski scored eight of his 12 points.
He made two of his three field goal attempts in eight-plus minutes and nailed his only 3-pointer in the final frame, but more importantly went to the free throw line twice, making three of his four tries. Rubin admitted after the loss he and his coaching staff need to take advantage of Podziemski’s scoring going forward.
“The next step with him is we got to find ways as a staff to put him in position so he can be more of a scorer, looking to score,” Rubin said. “He’s been good for us getting in the paint and facilitating, we just got to find a way for the ball to find him a little bit more.”
Quinones, the only player on the Warriors’ roster who has previous NBA experience after playing four games on a two-way contract at the end of last regular season, gave everyone a glimpse of all the ways he can score. The 2022-23 Most Improved Player of the G League scored a team-high 26 points in 27 minutes on 10-of-16 shooting and dazzled from deep, where he was 5 of 8 beyond the arc.
In a week’s time as teammates, Podziemski has been picking Quinones’ brain and the Memphis product has been a huge help for the former Santa Clara Bronco. The two talked about Podziemski’s performance right after the game before a team workout, and the Warriors rookie says he already is looking forward to playing with him again two nights from now.
The feeling is mutual, and Quinones is planning a longer sit-down conversation to point out little nuances that should help Podziemski now and in his further development.
“I can teach him a few things as far as just being more poised and kind of just letting it come to him,” Quinones explained. “I feel like either tonight or tomorrow I'm gonna sit with him and talk to him about kind of just not letting people just take you out of your offense or kind of pressure you at halfcourt, to kind of just be more poised and really just controlling it – being a controlled PG to get us into our offense.
“I feel like once he gets that down, he's gonna be really solid. He has a great, high IQ. He makes the right plays. He's not selfish, he's a hooper. I'm excited for how he's gonna blossom.”