Jordan Bell landed in the best possible situation for an athletic rookie who isn’t ready to carry an NBA team: Oakland.
The Golden State Warriors rookie, a second-round pick out of Oregon, has found his niche in an ideal setup as part of the NBA’s preeminent leader and model franchise. Chock full of talent young and old, Bell has been able to fill in the small gaps and do nothing but increase Golden State’s athletic ceiling, bringing his skills honed as a Duck to the Warriors’ bench group.
The all-time leader in blocked shots at Oregon returned to the state he called home for three years on Wednesday as part of Golden State’s trip to Portland to take on the Trail Blazers. Bell, who’s been hurt since January and had missed 10 games entering Wednesday night’s tilt, was made available to media members who were clamoring for interviews with the former Ducks star.
He had one clear message: Stop comparing me to the current Ducks.
“I keep telling people to stop comparing them to last year’s team,” Bell said, via The Oregonian’s Tyson Alger. “Stop comparing me to (freshman forward) Kenny (Wooten). Stop comparing everybody to people who went there before. Just let them play. I think that’s the reason why we were so good is because we didn’t have any expectations.”
When Bell arrived, the Ducks were far from the program they were when he left for the NBA. Expectations were low, and fans were pleasantly surprised when Oregon made the tournament during Bell’s freshman season, the first of three straight appearances.
Despite calling an end to the comparisons, Bell did recall one conversation he had with the freshman and how he imparted his own wisdom gained in Eugene upon the youngster.
“I always knew my role. I expanded on my role, but I knew who I was as a basketball player,” Bell said. “When (Wooten) first started talking to me, he was like, ‘They’re not giving me the ball enough,’ and I was like, ‘And?.’ They didn’t give me the ball either and I was still the highest pick on the team.
“You don’t have to score to be successful in the NBA. All you have to do is defend, block shots. Be a hustle guy. Especially nowadays when positions are less and less important.”
If any team served as a supporting example of what Bell said about positions, it’s his own. So far, Wooten appears to have taken his advice to heart. The freshman is averaging a line (7.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.9 blocks) similar to Bell’s career average at Oregon (7.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.2 blocks).
Whether that leads to another run of tournament appearances, and perhaps a selection in a future NBA draft remains to be seen.
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