Of all the great things and some concerning stuff that happened across the first two games to start the road trip, everything is starting to happen for rookie Jordan Bell. Let’s go through the basic statistics first. In the 127-123 OT win against the Los Angeles Lakers, he finished with 6 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block in 12 minutes. And on Friday night against the Orlando Magic, he dropped a 16 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 1 steal masterpiece in just 16 minutes. After the game, Steve Kerr joked that if Bell was a DNP for the Miami game on Sunday, Bob Myers might fire him. If Golden State Warriors fans had their way, every joke would have a little more than a grain of truth.
Now 17-6 the Warriors are embarking on their annual long road trip before Christmas. Unless they’re in the midst of a horrific 10 games in 15 days stuff like last season, they’ve fared exceptionally well. It started when the Warriors won all the games under Mark Jackson, capped by a Draymond Green game-winning layup against in-his-prime LeBron James’ Miami Heat. Then it became the Stephen Curry show in the last few seasons. The overarching theme for this one might be the future of the super role players for the Warriors: Patrick McCaw and more impressively, Jordan Bell.
Sooner or later, players like Zaza Pachulia, David West, Shaun Livingston, and most anxiously, Andre Iguodala will fall off the map. Everyone knows this, including Bob Myers. The contingency plan has been an impressive array of young talent despite the lack of resources. Two second-round picks have turned into a couple quality rotational pieces starting to blossom despite the incredible depth on the team. Nick Young is getting buried by the multi-dimensional play of McCaw. If McCaw can nail open 3s like he did against the Magic (2-3), then his defense, passing, and cutting become much more valuable than Swaggy’s.
But the scariest part and most irreplaceable aspect of the two is Jordan Bell’s sheer athleticism and feel for the game. Harrison Barnes had the athleticism and explosiveness but never the quick-twitch that Bell has, especially on second jumps. Draymond Green, a common comparison of Bell’s, never had Bell’s pure ability to leap and contest shots. Bell has combined both the power to jump off the screen and the intuitive defensive feel that makes someone like Draymond and Iguodala so special. This isn’t to say he’s going to end up a Hall-of-Famer like those two but it’s something the Warriors have been missing for years. The above-the-rim player that can stay on the court? That’s a scary piece the Warriors may not need now, or even for the next few years, but is an impossible matchup to gameplan against.
The he-can-just-play moniker is usually reserved for players that aren’t athletic or really carry much talent. Hell, even when Stephen Curry first arrived, a lot of his positives were simply the fact he knew where to be and how to play the game. That type of vague analysis perpetuated by the eye test and some form of on/off number is tangibly difficult to render. Jordan Bell has combined that along with some game-changing play that essentially duplicates game-changing sparks. Just like a Stephen Curry 3 or a Draymond Green block, a Jordan Bell flash can start to lead to avalanches of points, burying teams before they realize what’s even happening.
And with Steve Kerr resting guys more than ever, JaVale McGee essentially losing out on his roster spot, it’s Jordan Bell’s time. Time to make this unstoppable Golden State Warriors team better than ever before.