Kevon Looney was a force for the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs, setting career highs in points and rebounds and locking down opposing big men as he helped lead the team to a title.
The oft-injured center wants an even bigger follow-up for next season.
Finally at full health ,Looney played in all 82 contests for the first time in his career — starting 80 of them — and ended the season scoring 6 points per game while grabbing a career-high 7.3 rebounds. Though the Warriors hope to gradually increase the role for young center James Wiseman in the coming season, Looney will be the incumbent starter and said he’s hoping to have a career-best season.
Looney Wants League-Wide Attention
As Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area reported, Looney anticipates seeing a slight increase in his minutes in the coming season and moving back into his role as the team’s primary rebounder and defensive force.
Looney told the outlet that he hopes to get some league-wide attention for his defensive game, which is one of the most versatile among NBA big men.
“With the veil of his significance to the Warriors – his name will appear on opposing team scouting reports – Looney this week told NBC Sports Bay Area that one of his goals is to earn All-Defensive team attention,” Poole wrote. “He is one of the few centers that typically holds his own against big men in the paint and also switches out onto the perimeter.”
A resurgent season from Looney could be key to the Warriors, who are lacking in traditional big men. The team lost Nemanja Bjelica and Otto Porter Jr., and Wiseman will be coming off a knee injury that wiped out the back end of his rookie season and all of his second year in the NBA. Though Wiseman flashed great potential, the Warriors are expected to move him along slowly.
Warriors Make Major Commitment to Looney
After the Warriors dispatched the Boston Celtics to win their fourth title in the last eight seasons, the front office had to make some very difficult roster decisions. Free agents Gary Payton II and Porter had outplayed the one-year contracts they had signed the previous offseason, and the Warriors were unable to match the deals they received from the Portland Trail Blazers and Toronto Raptors respectively.
But the team prioritized bringing back Looney, who was also a free agent and reportedly generating some interest around the league. The team re-signed the 26-year-old center to a reported three-year, $25.5 million deal.
Looney also earned a strong endorsement from Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who made it clear that he would remain the starting center.
“[Looney] will come back as the starter,” Kerr said, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “He has earned that and then some. We’re all thrilled that he’s back. There was a real fear that we’d lose him. To get him back is massive for our team. It sets up well for Loon to continue what he did for us last year. In doing so, he’s really a good mentor for [Wiseman].”