Trayce Jackson-Davis

Warriors rookie Jackson-Davis forcing Kerr to rethink rotations

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Trayce-Jackson Davis is wading into rare waters for a rookie. He’s putting the best kind of pressure on his head coach. He’s forcing Steve Kerr to give him meaningful minutes.

“The second great game in a row,” the Warriors coach said Tuesday night after Jackson-Davis came off the bench and excelled in a stirring 132-126 overtime victory over the Boston Celtics at Chase Center. “You can see the impact he makes.

“So, he’s going to play. He’s going to be in the lineup.”

Yes, in just two games, Jackson-Davis, who spent the first seven weeks of the season mostly strapped to the bench, has forced Kerr to keep him in the rotation. Maybe even test him as a starter.

After all, Jackson-Davis had made a second consecutive bid to earn the unofficial honor of Most Impactful Warrior. He produced his first career double-double, with 10 points and 13 rebounds, while adding three blocks, two of which belong in the “fantastic” category. Jackson-Davis played a season-high 29 minutes and finished a team-best plus-25 ratings.

This was, according to Stephen Curry, Jackson-Davis’ “coming-out party.” That’s particularly high praise considering Curry scored a game-high 33 points, including 20 in the fourth quarter and OT to send the Celtics home.

Kerr offered no rebuttal.

“He was tremendous,” Kerr said of Jackson-Davis. “He was the player of the game. There were several huge plays, obviously Steph’s shot probably being No. 1. But Trayce’s block on Jaylen Brown. … Trayce was the guy who shifted everything.”

With the Warriors clinging to a 125-121 lead and 2:27 remaining in overtime, Brown went dribbling downhill, surely visualizing a dunk. He was met at the rim by Jackson-Davis, who stoned the dunk attempt, with teammate Klay Thompson grabbing the loose ball and going the other way.

“Coaches told me before the game to be ready, that you are probably going to play tonight,” Jackson-Davis said. “And then, just getting in and providing energy for my teammates. Trying to make the right plays, just doing everything that I can to help them.”

This follows Jackson-Davis' stellar performance on Sunday, when he delivered 14 points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes in a victory over the Trail Blazers in Portland.

Which has forced Kerr to reconsider what seemed routine only one week ago, after Jackson-Davis was saddled with six “DNP-Coach’s Decision” in six of the eight games between Nov. 28 and Dec. 16.

Does Kerr continue to start veteran Kevon Looney? Looney is a heartwarming story with useful skills and three championship rings. He might be, on a personal level, Kerr’s favorite individual on the roster.

Does Jackson-Davis move ahead of Loon in the playing rotation? This is, for Kerr, a test of loyalty. And how does increasing the rookie's minutes affect Dario Sarić? He’s another veteran with useful skills, and has become a favorite of the coaching staff.

Suddenly, the team, which previously thrived with small lineups, has an excess of skill at center. All three possess different skills, which seems fortuitous for the Warriors.

It’s rare for any quality team to have a rookie vault past two veterans, regardless of position. But Jackson-Davis’ value is impossible to miss.

He’s going to play. He has to play. At this point, it’s the only logical move.

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