The next Yao Ming or the next Muggsy Bogues? Or somehow even both?
If anything, the NBA draft brings back the timeless sports tradition of finding comparisons for people who have zero experience at the job they’re about to compete for, and sometimes come to crazy conclusions. Twitter account @NBA_University dug up the comic relief we all needed Thursday night as the 2023 NBA Draft began. Everybody in the basketball world still is searching for the next Michael Jordan, despite a few coming close in their tries.
We can confidently say DeShawn Stevenson fell short.
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Scouts do need some structure to build off when watching an endless amount of prospects. The Warriors are beyond pleased in who they see as the mold for their first-round draft pick at No. 19 overall, Santa Clara University guard Brandin Podziemski.
Assistant general manager Larry Harris joined me and Monte Poole on the latest Dubs Talk podcast and gave two names he believes Podziemski resembles, while trying to ease unfair expectations.
“I don’t want the fans to lose their minds a little bit when I say this,” Harris began, “but … he rebounds, he’s smart and he can score. He’s got a little bit of some Jalen Brunson in him, in the sense that he knows how to kind of worm his way into the lane and he’s strong enough to take contact.”
Golden State Warriors
Brunson is a stout 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds who uses his strength and skill to overcome other areas of weakness. Podziemski is 6-foot-5, 200 pounds and Harris believes he has an NBA-ready body. The Warriors didn’t need to write “body development” on his scouting report Harris said. He should, in the assistant GM’s eyes, be able to handle the jump, still needing time like all rookies.
Harris, of course, loves a more important trait. Both lefties can let it fly from all over the court.
Madison Square Garden was brought to life last season behind Brunson’s breakout season as a borderline All-Star for the New York Knicks, having fans ooh and ahh watching his deep tries swish for three points. Brunson shot a career-best 41.5 percent from 3-point range. Podziemski topped that mark last season as a sophomore at Santa Clara.
A season removed from playing 16 games and shooting a total of 13 3-pointers as a freshman at Illinois, Podziemski shot 43.8 percent, fifth in the nation, behind the 3-point line for the Broncos on 5.8 attempts per game.
“I think the biggest thing is, and I know a lot of people have heard me say this before, though we have the two greatest shooters in the world, I just don’t think you can have enough shooting,” Harris said. “Spacing of the floor is important for the way [Steve Kerr] wants to play and the effectiveness our team has, especially on the offensive side of the floor.
“What Brandin brings first is elite shooting.”
The 3-point shot is what sticks out immediately. Harris applauded Podziemski for his willingness to drive and says he already has a bit of a floater to his game. The mid-range and shooting off the dribble is an area Harris admitted will need some refinement for the newest Warrior, too. At least in his one season at Santa Clara, though, Podziemski was highly efficient all over the field.
Shooting is something the Warriors and every other team search for, it just can’t be the end-all, be-all. And it isn’t with Podziemski. Rebounding translates to the next level and Podziemski at it, for his position and all others. The shooting guard led the entire West Coast Conference in rebounding.
That brought Harris to his second comparison.
"I think everybody enjoyed Donte DiVincenzo,” Harris said. “I think a lot of things that he did well … again, I mentioned Jalen Brunson, I think a lot of similarities, the way he plays in his activity is a lot like Donte DiVincenzo.
“Not the athlete that Donte is. Better shooter than Donte is. But that fearlessness, it seemed like he dropped out of the ceiling sometimes to go grab a rebound.”
DiVincenzo averaged 4.5 rebounds per game last season as a high-energy guard ready to crash the glass. He gave the Warriors double-digit rebounds four times, and came down with at least seven rebounds in 19 games. He also is expected to opt out of his player option and become a free agent.
Podziemski worked his way to 8.8 rebounds per game, totaling 13 games with 10 or more rebounds and three with at least 15. His 13 double-doubles led the WCC.
“He’s not afraid, he’ll stick his nose in there and he is the ultimate competitor, sometimes almost to his detriment,” Harris said. “What we talk about internally is, we never want to draft players that you got to rev up. We’d rather draft players that you kind of want to draw back.
“Well this guy, we don’t have to worry about revving him up.”
At the end of the day, the Warriors’ biggest hope is having Podziemski progress into the best version of himself, the player they envisioned as they got to see his game and get to know him. Reaching that point is the goal. Squeezing any semblance of Brunson or DiVincenzo out of him would be quite the start from Mike Dunleavy Jr.’s debut draft, and Harris trusts his thought process in having those two at the front of his mind.