Steve Kerr details importance of Nemanja Bjelica’s Warriors role



Kerr explains why Bjelica’s role is key to Warriors’ success originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The Warriors of old showed up Tuesday night to steal an opening night win away from the Los Angeles Lakers. 

The spacing, the rhythm, the passing … it all seemed familiar. 

At the center of it all was Serbian big man Nemanja Bjelica, who made his regular season debut with Golden State, and looked very good

Warriors coach Steve Kerr joined 95.7 The Game’s “Damon & Ratto” Wednesday evening and discussed how 4-on-3 opportunities can benefit players such as Bjelica while opposing defenses are focused on Steph Curry. 

“That’s the beauty of our team this year, we are built to take advantage of 4-on-3,” Kerr said. “[Nemanja] Bjelica is really a hell of a basketball player. We’ve all watched him stretch the floor and be a pick-and-pop 3-point shooter, but he’s showing what he’s about in terms of his ability to pass, dribble and make plays.

“When you get 4-on-3 with guys like Draymond [Green], (Bjelica), Andre [Iguodala], making plays with shooters like Jordan Poole and Damion Lee, Otto Porter, you’re going to get good shots every time. Steph is a guy that generates every single advantage, then we have a team that can take advantage of that this year.”

Bjelica, who also goes by “Belly,” has made an early impression on his new teammates. 

“He’s quickly becoming a favorite with the guys just because of how smart he is and how easy he makes the game for everyone else,” Kerr said. “He’s really a hell of a player.”

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The Warriors — since Kerr became head coach — have always been one of the top passing teams in the league, though maybe not so much the last two seasons. But this season, the Warriors seem to resemble their old selves. Effective ball distribution will only present a player such as Bjelica with more opportunities within the offense. 

“When I’ve been here, we’ve always played a style that really encourages passing from every spot,” Kerr added. “The way our system is designed, the way Steph and Draymond, the way defenses respond to Steph. We’re just best when we have guys who can pass on the floor, and I would say that’s probably true with any team.

“Passing makes the game, it’s the beauty of the game. (Bjelica) is in a position now with our team to make plays, because we’re not just asking him to be a 3-point shooter, we’re asking him to be a valuable passer and playmaker in our style and I think he’s really enjoying it.”

It’s still very early. In fact, it’s literally been one game. This Warriors squad still has a lot to prove, but if their opening night win over the Lakers is any indication as to how good this team is, it should be a very exciting season for Golden State. 

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