Omari Spellman did not exactly have the most encouraging training camp. There were comments from Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr about Spellman’s weight not being where anyone wanted it to be, and the second-year big didn’t produce much during the preseason.
Yet it was impossible to criticize the Warriors for trading center Damian Jones for Spellman. Jones showed little in his three-year tenure by the Bay, and his contract was slightly bigger. If all Spellman did was sit on the back of the bench doing his best Jones impression, it wouldn’t have been a bad trade.
Narrator: That is not all Spellman did.
It took only three games before Spellman emphatically let the Warriors fanbase know why Bob Myers pulled the strings on such a trade.
Spellman came into Monday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans and immediately made a difference, with energy and athleticism bounding out of his noticeably in-shape physique.
That was the highlight, but the quality play didn’t end there. In 17 minutes, Spellman grabbed a whopping eight rebounds, while putting in eight points as well. He rounded out the box score with an assist and a blocked shot.
But it was his tone, more than anything. He was energetic and athletic. He went after every rebound, every lose ball, every pass that could be deflected, and every shot that could be blocked.
And in a stretch of five minutes, it was enough for me to feel like he had already provided more than his trade counterpart did in three seasons.
You could make the case the Spellman’s five minutes were better than any five-minute stretch the Warriors ever got from Damian Jones.
You can see why they made that trade. https://t.co/ciXZAhzdo9
— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) October 29, 2019
Was Spellman the best player in the Warriors first win? No. That distinction belonged to Draymond Green or Steph Curry.
But we all know roughly what the Warriors will get out of Green and Curry. What we don’t know is if they’ll get enough from their wholly unproven cast of ragtag role players.
Green’s triple-double may be more impressive, but Spellman’s electric run off the bench is more meaningful in the big picture. It gives the team a little bit more optimism, and a little bit more verve going into game #4.
Without Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Andre Iguodala, the Warriors need performances like this in order to win. They cannot simply ride the coattails of their stars, because they no longer have an unfair number of those.
They need role players. That’s a tall ask of a team with three rookies, two second-year players, two journeymen veterans, and one unproven prospect.
And it makes Spellman’s trade-justifying performance all the more necessary.