By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Nemanja Bjelica join the Golden State Warriors this past summer and while he impressed them during the training camp and the preseason, nothing makes a bigger impression than balling out in the official opening game against a team such as the LA Lakers. And Bejlica did just that.
The Serbian big logged a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds while also dishing four assists. His shooting was on point, going 6-7 from the field including making his single attempt at a three-pointer.
What impressed coach Steve Kerr the most was that Bjelica played a perfect game when it comes to decision-making.
“He’s much more than just a shooter. I think he’s always been known as ‘pick-and-pop five’ but he had four assists. When he gets the ball and space, and people run at him… we’ve seen it in the camp, he can pump fake, put it on the floor and find people. Great passer, just a really good basketball player.”
Bjelica hasn’t always felt good in the roles he received throughout his NBA career but coach Kerr stated that it’s a totally different story among the Warriors and the player himself voiced it.
“He’s mentioned to our staff several times how much he’s enjoying playing with our team because he just gets to play the game and is not kind of pigeonholed as a specialist. He gets to just play the whole game. I think that’s kind of what are team has always been. That’s why guys with a great feel have always been a good fit with us. And he is absolutely a great fit,” Kerr said.
The Warriors leading star Stephen Curry, who logged triple-double, was also enjoying Bjelica’s display and gave him props for the big and game-winning performance. His ability to drive and kick out seems to be the most important factor for the Warriors.
“I didn’t know either [he could pass like that] (laughs). He has the freedom to make those kinds of plays, especially when he is at the five. He’s a threat to shoot, puts the ball on the floor if he doesn’t have anything, he can read the defense, find open guys, and choose. Because he’s gonna have space if we do what we’re supposed to do. I like the spaciousness. It was cool to see. He had a great drive in the fourth quarter that kept our momentum going. It was great to watch.”
Draymond Green echoed those words as well while pointing out to Bjelica’s stat line that featured a surplus of 20 in the +/- category.
“It’s great. With his shooting ability… the guys are really running him out of the line. And for him to be able to put the ball on the floor like that and kick out, that was huge. He made a lot of plays for us tonight, he was a huge reason we pulled out this game. Plus twenty? That’s incredible.”