Warriors Rookie Has ‘Tough Hill to Climb’ to Make Roster: Insider

Ryan Rollins

Getty Ryan Rollins looks to make a play in a Toledo game.

There were high hopes that Golden State Warriors rookie Ryan Rollins could buck the odds and earn a spot in the rotation as a second-round pick, but a surprise injury and a deep backcourt may have changed the dynamic.

The Warriors have shown a lot of faith in Rollins, trading up in the second round to select him and then handing him a significant contract that dipped into the team’s mid-level exception. At the time, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Connor Letourneau predicted that Rollins could jump right into the rotation.

“Not only did the defending champions sign him Thursday to a three-year, $4.8 million contract, with the first two years fully guaranteed, but by not yet adding a true backup point guard to the 15-man roster, the Warriors also have left open a path for Rollins to earn meaningful minutes this season,” Letourneau noted.

After an unexpected injury setback, the Warriors could now have a very different plan for Rollins in his rookie season, another insider predicts.

Rollins’ Role With Warriors

As Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area noted, the Warriors head into their title-defense season with one of the deepest rosters in years and the top 11 spots in the rotation likely set in stone. That leaves both rookies with a “tough hill to climb,” especially the second-round Rollins, he wrote.

“No matter how much the Warriors like Rollins, he’s still only 20 years old and a long-term investment,” Johnson wrote, adding that the Warriors likely want to see him expand his scoring touch.

“At Toledo, Rollins averaged 16.4 points in his two seasons and 18.9 as a sophomore. He was a mid-range nightmare but shot only 31.7 percent from there. That’s an area he wants to improve on. What will get him NBA minutes sooner than later, however, is an emphasis on the other side of the ball.”

Injury Robbed Warriors Rookie of Opportunity

Rollins lost some key opportunities to prove himself this summer, with his initial physical uncovering a stress fracture in his foot that had previously gone undetected. Rollins was unable to play in Summer League but expected to be back in time for training camp to start at the end of September.

As Shams Charania and Anthony Slater of The Athletic wrote, the Warriors hope Rollins could eventually find a place behind Steph Curry and Jordan Poole at point guard.

“They hope recently drafted Ryan Rollins, on a multiyear guaranteed deal, is an answer, but he spent the summer rehabbing from a foot fracture discovered in a post-draft physical,” the pair wrote. “There’s optimism that Rollins will be ready for camp, per sources, but the team will know more about his status in the next couple of weeks as everything ramps up.”

But it is likely that Rollins will have to prove himself in the G League while waiting for an opportunity to crack the Golden State roster, Johnson wrote.

“The reality is, Rollins likely will wear a Santa Cruz Warriors jersey a good chunk of the time as a rookie,” he wrote. “If he shows how important defense is to him and that he can control an offense, Rollins could find time as a back-of-the-rotation ballhandler when the Warriors preserve their big-minutes players.”

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Ike Hedrick
Ike Hedrick
17 days ago

I am concerned if the Warriors are
considering another bout with Durant.
He is not a team player and disrupted
the Warrior style of play when he was
there before. Then, he was injured and
out for a year plus. They traded or lost
3-4 good backup players which gave
them nothing to fall back on. Then,
KD wanted out. Total disruption by
having KD there in my opinion.
They are back to a ”great team-style”
unit. Don’t mess it up again…. Please.

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