OAKLAND — The Warriors announced they assigned first-round pick Damian Jones to the D-League on Thursday for the sixth times this season — and this time he has company.
Patrick McCaw, who Golden State traded $2.4 million for on draft day as the No. 38 pick, was optioned to the Developmental League team to get more playing time.
The skinny guard played ably in the moments he was given off the bench. He’s averaging 2.8 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist in 12.2 minutes per game. He scored nine points with five assists against the Indiana Pacers two nights before scoring a career-high 10 points at Utah.
But with the emergence of Ian Clark as a regular rotation player, and veterans Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston forcing McCaw to the bottom of the depth chart, McCaw had little hope of getting playing at the NBA level.
“He hasn’t done anything wrong here. I think he’s played really well every time we’ve thrown him out there,” head coach Steve Kerr said after practice on Thursday. “But, Ian has played so well that Ian’s earned those extra minutes and it’s tough to play 11 guys, we’re already playing 10.”
So, McCaw and Jones were sent down to play in the Santa Cruz Warriors’ game against the Northern Arizona Suns on Thursday. And they’ll likely be recalled soon, if Jones’ pattern is an indicator.
Kerr, a former reserve guard himself, said he appreciates the growth of the NBA Developmental League for players maturing on the floor instead of practice.
“I was the king of 3 on 3 when I was a player,” he said with a typical grin. “Had to do it all the time to keep my rhythm, but it’s not the same as 5 on 5, full court with refs and a crowd.”
The coach said he was going to look to give Iguodala and Livingston more opportunities on the offensive side of the floor as they’re both averaging career-lows in minutes played and points per game.
“We’re still finding our way a little bit,” Kerr said.
New-look Warriors lead NBA in following statistical categories
Points per game
Field goals made per game
Field goal percentage
Assists per game
Steals per game
Blocks per game
Effective field goal percentage
True shooting percentage
Field-goal percentage allowed
3-point field-goal percentage allowed
At 28-5, the Super Villain Warriors are better than the 2010-11 Miami Heat (24-9) and just behind the 2008-09 Boston Celtics (29-4) through the same number of games.
But Kerr compared his current group to another team that added a former MVP.
“This stuff doesn’t come easily,” he said. “I think all you have to do is look at the history of the league — whether it’s the group in Miami or the Lakers with [Steve] Nash and Dwight [Howard] and Kobe [Bryant] — there’s all these instances where you put some new people together that very rarely comes across as smoothly as it has for us.”
That Los Angeles team started 15-18 and missed the playoffs after finishing the season 45-37 and being swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round.