The Golden State Warriors have built a roster filled with proven veterans and a group of up-and-coming youngsters, leaving little room for their top rookie to get the developmental minutes he’ll likely need.
The Warriors opted for potential with the No. 28 overall pick in June’s NBA Draft, selecting University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee big man Patrick Baldwin Jr. He had previously been a top-10 recruit out of high school, but had something of a blank slate in his only college season as he was limited to 11 games after suffering a series of injuries.
Though the Warriors believe that Baldwin’s upside is an advantage, head coach Steve Kerr said he could be hard-pressed to crack the rotation in his rookie season.
Kerr Speaks Out on Baldwin
Baldwin’s work ethic and desire to learn have made a great impression on the Warriors coaches so far, Kerr said, but was limited over the summer by a lingering ankle injury that he had suffered in high school. He was held out of the team’s California Classic and Las Vegas Summer League games, robbing him of a chance to show what he can do on the court.
“Patrick, all the coaches were texting me while I was gone raving about how knowledgeable he is, what great feel he has. He’s just one of those guys who seems to understand the game and move the ball and knock down shots,” Kerr told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic.
Kerr went on to say that Baldwin’s first order of business is to stay healthy, which means learning how to better take care of his body.
“I think the biggest thing for Patrick is to make sure he’s healthy. He wasn’t healthy last year during his one college season, he wasn’t healthy in Summer League,” Kerr said. “He’s a young guy, young guys generally have to learn their bodies and learn how to take care of themselves and how to get in the training room and weight room and do all their work.”
Kerr’s Outlook for Warriors Rookie
Due to Baldwin’s lack of time on the court and the logjam ahead of him on the roster, Kerr said he didn’t expect the rookie to play a significant role in the rotation.
“I look at Patrick as somebody with great potential and I’m really excited to see him play, but in the early stages of his career, [it will] probably be hard for him to crack the rotation,” Kerr said. “You never know, I give everybody a chance, as you know that. But with Ryan [Rollins] and Patrick both, the rookie season is really about figuring out your surrounding and figuring out how to handle yourself and how to be a pro.”
Kerr has taken a careful approach with rookies, including lottery picks Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody last season. Both spent long stretches with the G League Santa Cruz Warriors before eventually moving into the regular rotation later in the season.
That would fit the projection many insiders had for Baldwin when he was first drafted by the Warriors, seen more as a long-term project than an immediate impact player.