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Rise of Warriors’ young big men leads to unexpected dilemma for Steve Kerr

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Kevon Looney (5) has looked like a totally different player for the Golden State Warriors this season. (Mira Laing/Special to S.F. Examiner)
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OAKLAND — Steve Kerr finds himself confronting an unusual problem in the hours before every Golden State Warriors game.

Simply put, Kerr has too many good Warriors and not enough spots to keep all his players active on any given night.

The frontcourt, featuring Zaza Pachulia, David West, JaVale McGee, Jordan Bell and Kevon Looney — not to mention G-League Warrior Damian Jones — is especially crowded.

To resolve the roster jam, Kerr has, on occasion, inactivated both Bell and Looney, even though the pair of bigs have impressed the boss in the opening weeks of 2017.

Bell, the rookie out of Oregon, has already made his name thanks to his penchant for delivering spectacular dunks.

Kerr knows there’s still plenty more to learn for the 22-year-old ex-Oregon Duck, who has elbowed his way into the rotation.

“You see his physical ability,” Kerr said after Tuesday’s practice. “What you probably don’t see is on film, there’s just the little details that he’s still learning.”

In Monday night’s 97-80 win over the Miami Heat, Kerr was able to carve out 12 minutes for Bell as West was off for rest.

“Last night was probably his best effort in terms of all the fundamentals we drill into him every day,” Kerr said. “So I’m really excited about Jordan’s development and how he’s performing for us.”

Looney, who’s in his third season but is actually 11 months younger than Bell, played a season-high 17-minutes. He’s been fighting a hip injury since he was drafted.

“He literally has not been physically capable of providing what he did [against the Heat],” Kerr said. “So, more than anything, I’m really happy for him.”

The 6-foot-9 Looney delivered three blocks, tied with Kevin Durant for the game high.

“You can see the impact he can make on our defense,” Kerr said. “I mean, he is long.”

The emergence of Bell and Jordan has also had a positive impact on Draymond Green, allowing Kerr to refrain from using the club’s defensive general at the center spot with as much frequency as a season ago.

“Jordan and Loon, those guys can switch and do all those things as well,” Green said. “So, if there’s maybe a situation where it’s not quite the best matchup for our big, [they can help].”

kbuscheck@sfexaminer.com

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