Sometimes there are specific moments in time that lead up to a final, pristine conclusion. On the basketball court, there are chasedown blocks, there are crosscourt assists coming out of a weakside pick-and-roll, perhaps sometimes there are even dunks that seem to appear out of thin air. Jordan Bell makes all of the above happen, and almost at an unfair effortless basis. In the Warriors 111-104 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, Bell finished a team high +14 in 26 minutes, finished the game in crunchtime, and 11-6-2-1-1. He won’t remain the starting center, nor will he play meaningful minutes as a player when the games count, for now. But as the Draymond Green-lite most has tabbed him to be, he’s forcing himself into the lineup, and waiting for the David Lee injury to unleash his realized talent.
After the game, Steve Kerr said he was comfortable with some of Bell’s mistakes if only because the upside is so great. A turnover on offense? He can chase down Damian Lillard on the other end, leading to a Klay Thompson 3. The comments were eerily similar to the way he describes Stephen Curry turnovers. It’s not always going to be perfect. So why not take the greatness that comes with the momentary lapses?
As for the rest of the game, it was a methodical undressing the Warriors did to every single Blazer not named Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. No matter what those guys did, it wasn’t enough. David West was there to drop a dunk that he later said he was proud of because the guys he was playing against were essentially kids to him. Nick Young was shooting lights out before suffering a concussion. Kevin Durant functioning as the unstoppable two-way force that could easily vault him as the best player in the entire world. And the defense without Draymond Green and Stephen Curry has completely locked down every single opponent during this 7-game win streak.
But back to the thesis of what really has been the story of the 2017 Golden State Warriors thus far. Sure, everyone else has had great individual moments, perhaps even a great season. But the Patrick McCaw we expected to break out, the Swaggy P thrill, or even the Stephen Curry MVP flair, hasn’t come to fruition. It doesn’t mean that those things are failures, it’s that those aren’t needed, or even possible, anymore. Right now, it’s the present and future potential of a player that looks poised to become a building block for a long, long time.
One day Zaza Pachulia, David West, and JaVale McGee won’t be here to soak up the minutes in the regular season, and even into the playoffs. For now, the luxury comes within the confines of these times where the Warriors can deploy and see what they have. And what they have has forced Steve Kerr’s hand, a coach that is reluctant to hand out minutes to players that make tiny mistakes, a slow rotation here, or a misread off a set play there. Even through that, the consistent flashes have become a notable presence, and has even led to the outplaying of several veterans on the team.
The Golden State Warriors should start Jordan Bell. They won’t and that’s the right decision with a team that’s poised to win another title with a core group of veterans without complaints. But they should. And that’s a testament to just how great Jordan Bell has been, perhaps will be, and how fun the Warriors are about to become.