It took precisely one game for Stephen Jackson to show his value to the Warriors. After serving a seven-game suspension, Jackson played his first game of the season for the Warriors on Sunday against the Toronto
On display again in that game was just how much the Warriors need Jackson. He had 17 points and five assists in the Warriors’ 106-100 win over Toronto, but as often is the case with Jackson, numbers are only a small part of the story.
Point guard Baron Davis might be the team’s MVP, but the Warriors aren’t going anywhere without
The most obvious contribution made was on the defensive end. He was largely responsible for shutting down Chris Bosh, an All-Star and the Raptors’ best player. Bosh went just 4-for-12 from the field and committed six turnovers.
But Jackson also took a turn on point guard T.J. Ford, who was wreaking havoc with penetration. Jackson helped slow down Ford, which went a long way toward the Raptors going 4-of-22 from the field in the fourth quarter.
At the offensive end, Jackson gave coach Don Nelson another option. Without Jackson, Baron Davis had been forced to handle the ball virtually every trip down the floor. But Jackson can provide that service, too, and when he does, it gives Davis relief from the grind of constantly bringing the ball upcourt.
After Davis, Jackson is the Warriors’ best playmaker and creator and capable of doing those things from either the low post or out on the perimeter.
Often during Sunday’s game, Jackson went down to the box, got double-teamed and as a result the Warriors got open shots.
And then there are the intangibles. Jackson is the most passionate and fiery Warrior and it is clear teammates feed off that. Jackson’s hounding and talking on defense can’t help but bring up the defensive play of the rest of the team — and it did just that in the fourth quarter against Toronto.
He is unselfish and thrives on defensive challenges.
Is Jackson a perfect player? Of course not. He sometimes tries to force the action and is prone to turning the ball over. He is one of the worst 6-foot-8 rebounders in the league, averaging all of three per game last season. And as we all know, his emotions can sometimes get the best of him … to the detriment of the team.
But his pluses far outweigh his minuses. Without Jackson, the Warriors have gaping holes in their game, and if they have the misfortune of losing him for an extended stretch this season, they’re going to be in trouble.
But if Jackson can stay healthy and continue to provide what he has been providing, the Warriors are likely to resemble that playoff team from a year ago. Not the team that started 0-6.
Matt Steinmetz is the NBA insider for Warriors telecasts on Fox Sports Net.