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How Patrick Baldwin Jr. impressed Steve Kerr despite defensive mistake


SAN FRANCISCO — Early in the Warriors’ final second quarter Lost 115-101 to Orlando Magic Rookie Patrick Baldwin Jr. guarded Magic forward Franz Wagner at the top of the three-point line on Saturday night at Chase Center. Wagner quickly overtook Baldwin, making his two right-handed dribbles and an easy finger roll on his roll that scored him two points and gave Orlando his 32–31 lead.

Less than a minute later, Steve Kerr called timeout. As players headed to the bench, Kerr set his sights on Baldwin, the Warriors’ top pick from the 2022 NBA Draft.

“Patrick, do you know what you did wrong?” Carr asked Baldwin.

No hint, no hesitation. Baldwin knew his mistake and Kerr was confident this young man could fix it on the spot.

That’s the main reason the Warriors took Baldwin with the 28th overall pick in the draft, despite a very disappointing freshman year at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His potential is enormous. When it comes to skills, there’s a reason Baldwin was once the top high school prospect in the nation before a dislocated ankle wiped him out his senior year and severely damaged him during his first year in college. There are several.

Baldwin’s basketball brain might be just as interesting as his buttery shot. He’s now playing his third straight game with the Warriors, has played in nine of his last 13 games, and is gaining more and more credibility.

“It’s perfect,” said Kerr after the Warriors’ practice on Monday. “It is okay to make mistakes as long as you recognize what it was and learn from it. You have to know, and that’s a big part of being a rookie.

“He’s learning, but I think he has a really bright future. He’s skilled, he’s smart, he’s aware, he’s working on it.”

Sitting on the podium, Baldwin took full responsibility for Wagner’s layup. Well before Kerr came to him, he already had the answer to his coach’s pop quiz, and if Kerr hadn’t beat him, he would have said something himself.

And the error did not occur again as Baldwin played 15 minutes off the bench.

“That’s just a mistake. Don’t make it to the league twice,” Baldwin said. “I learned that kind of the hard way with Wagner two nights ago, but we had a good conversation about it and it was definitely a point we emphasized in today’s practice.”

It’s been less than two months since Baldwin went from being a teenager to being 20. He speaks with poise and conviction and acts like a seasoned professional. Fans already want to see him more as a 3-point weapon, and rightly so.

Since Dec. 13, Baldwin has gone 17-for-36, shooting 47.2% beyond the arc. With regards to Baldwin’s place in the NBA and his future success, ultimately becoming a marksman from a distance was never a real issue. It’s the defense that gets him there, and he knows it.

Inside the Warriors’ locker room, Baldwin has many of the best defenders of all time to lean on. His eyes and ears are on a mixture of Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and even center Kevon Looney.

“There’s a veterinarian locker room who loves being a veterinarian and loves sharing information,” Baldwin said. They listen and they give you everything they have.”

Kerr sees Baldwin as a power forward, but the rookie’s ability to shoot the ball gives Kerr the flexibility to play him as a small forward who can share the floor with other big men. Baldwin has played 70% of his NBA games as a power forward, 21% as a small forward, and 3% as a shooting guard, according to the Basketball-Reference Position Estimator Tool. increase. The last 70% is as a center.

Rooney has played in 151 straight regular season games, a personal best of 23.3 minutes per game. Green has appeared in 36 of his 40 games for the Warriors, averaging more than 34 minutes per game in the Warriors’ current homestand, which includes his two-time win against the Hawks in Atlanta. That includes his 44+ minutes in overtime wins. These two men carry a heavy burden on the Warriors’ frontcourt. Against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, they aren’t looking to get any more help.

James Wiseman (sprained left ankle), Jonathan Kuminga (sprained right foot) and Jamaichal Green (right leg infection) will all be absent from Monday’s practice and have already been ruled out against the Suns. ing. Kerr on Monday shared his concerns about the minutes Rooney and Green had piled up. Will Baldwin be the solution?

Listed as 6 feet 9 inches and 220 pounds, Baldwin has stated that he is actually a little taller and weighs a little more than that. If that’s what Carr wants him to do, it sounds like he’s up for another new challenge.

“I’ve never been a five at any level in my life,” Baldwin said. “But at the end of the day, I’m 6 foot 10 and 230, 235 at this point.

“Offensively, I’m very comfortable. Defensively, I’m very comfortable.”

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The combination of Baldwin’s size and how he stretches the floor has already made him a scoring weapon off the bench at age 20. It’s just part of the equation. Another, Kerr and the rest of the coaching staff, were seen during timeouts on Saturday night.

Learning on the fly is the name of the game. Doing so defensively is an added bonus that can be a cherry on top of Baldwin falling in the back end of the first round.

Imagine him being able to play multiple positions on offense and equally versatile on defense. Sooner or later, Baldwin will be the Warriors’ problem-solver in several ways.

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