Trayce Jackson-Davis

TJD already focused on how he can improve for Warriors next season

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SAN FRANCISCO – Less than 24 hours after the Warriors were dispatched from the postseason in emphatic fashion, rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis already was mapping out plans to prepare for the 2024-25 NBA season.

“I thought overall I had a pretty solid rookie season,” Jackson-Davis said Wednesday at Chase Center. “Obviously, there's always room for growth ... I'll be here for most of the offseason. I'll be here, and they have a great plan for me and probably going to start up here in about two or three weeks.”

Jackson-Davis’ emergence as a pivotal big man for Golden State was one of the primary positives during what otherwise was a mostly disappointing season for a Warriors core that has won four NBA championships together.

The son of former NBA star Dale Davis entered the league relatively unknown and ended his first season as one of the league’s top younger players.

Jackson-Davis only was getting five to six minutes of playing time throughout the first third of the 2023-24 season, but forced himself into the starting lineup over the final 15 regular-season games after developing into the Warriors’ most athletic and versatile center.

An adequate scorer who brought more flexibility and duality to the Warriors’ lineup, Jackson-Davis made most of his impact on defense. The 6-foot-9 power forward was a shot-blocking machine for the Dubs, swatting away 76 attempts by opponents who dared to try him.

In the 68 games he played – 16 of them starts – Jackson-Davis racked up multiple blocks 20 times, the most by a Warriors rookie since Ekpe Udoh did it in 24 games during the 2010-11 season.

That helped Jackson-Davis make a mostly smooth transition from college and gave the second-round draft pick the confidence that he definitely belonged.

“Obviously, the NBA is the best players in the world and they're really, really good, but I think what surprised me the most is just the smallest margin of what a superstar is to another player,” Jackson-Davis said. “The margin for everyone in the league is so small. Obviously you have the top 20 players, but then after that the margin is just relatively even and it's basically who plays harder.”

The Warriors did a lot of rotating with their centers this season. Draymond Green handled a lot of the big man duties while Jackson-Davis was in the early stages of his rookie campaign. Kevon Looney, Golden State’s primary center over the last few years, also got some time down low, but his minutes decreased in line with Jackson-Davis’ development.

Toward the end of the 2023-24 season, Jackson-Davis emerged as the team’s best all-around center in spite of his somewhat thin stature. Listed at 245 pounds, Jackson-Davis showed the ability to muscle up when he needed to but was at his best when he was freed up to defend the rim.

That all transpired after Jackson-Davis suffered a hamstring injury that sidelined him for a good chunk of the NBA Summer League.

Jackson-Davis said he plans to play in the summer league again this year, as will fellow Warriors rookie Brandin Podziemski, with the objective being on building up his overall strength.

“I'm really honing in on this summer on working on my body, working on getting stronger upper body, lower body, then just doing whatever the coaches need me to do,” Jackson-Davis said.

“Just honing in on some of the parts of my game, being more offensive minded, defensively still bringing pressure, being able to switch, guard guards and stuff of that nature. I think that all just comes with reps.”

During his exit meeting with the Warriors’ coaching staff, one of the names brought up in the discussions was Sacramento Kings star Domantas Sabonis, who was a double-double machine for the majority of the 2023-24 regular season and came up big during Tuesday’s win at Golden 1 Center that ended the Warriors hopes of making a return trip to the playoffs.

Like Sabonis, the Warriors believe that Jackson-Davis can enhance his repertoire and become a more balanced offensive threat.

“When we actually talked, Coach [Steve Kerr] mentioned Sabonis' name and I think just the force that he plays with,” Jackson-Davis said. “He feels like with the dribble handoffs, stuff of that nature, he might attempt one [3-pointer] a game, but that's not necessarily who he is as a player. The free throws and then being able to catch and shoot three, I think that's something that I also need to expand on.”

Clearly Jackson-Davis has the correct mindset. Now, it’s a matter of putting the work in, and he sounds more than willing to do just that.

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