With Boogie mending and Damian Jones emerging, the Warriors are positioned to have one scary frontline

Young big poured in career-high 13 points in stomping of the Suns on Monday night

Karl Buscheck
October 22, 2018 - 10:39 pm

Midway through the opening quarter of the Warriors’ 123-103 bombardment of the Phoenix Suns on Monday night, Damian Jones fought through the paint to secure a rebound.

Some 25 feet away, DeMarcus Cousins lept from the bench and pumped his fists wildy. Donning a dark blazer, a grey shirt, matching pants and his gold-rimmed glasses, Cousins let out a shout.

“Let’s goo!”

By the time Jones exited at the 4:30-mark in the first, a standing ovation from the Oracle crowd serenading his trip to the sideline, the new center had a game-high 9 points, shooting 4-for-4 from the field while matching up against Deandre Ayton, last summer’s No. 1 overall pick.

About an hour-and-a-half before Jones and the Warriors took the floor, the team offered up an official injury update on DeMarcus Cousins, the big man the kid is standing in for.

On the road back from his Achilles tear, Cousins will soon be ramping it up.

Related: Boogie’s coming — DeMarcus Cousins to be integrated into Warriors’ practice ‘in the near future’

“In the near future, (Cousins will) be integrated into controlled aspects of team practices, although not scrimmages at this point,” the statement read.

With Jones emerging and Cousins looming, the Warriors could soon have one scary frontline. Jones contributed a career-high 13 points in the win.

"I'm just trying to provide energy from the start," Jones told the Warriors broadcast after the win. "Just trying to get everything going. Just finishing the dunks and doing things like that. Just getting everybody going and just opening up the offense."

Amid an early timeout, head coach Steve Kerr was diagramming a play on his whiteboard as the starters rested along the bench. Jordan Bell was draped over his shoulder.

The season is young yet, but for now, Jones had lept over last-year’s surprise X-factor. Heading into Monday night, when he got nine minutes of garbage-time run, Bell had logged just 10 minutes through the first three games.

“It’s just a number’s thing, to be honest with you,” Kerr explained before the game. “When you look at how we play and how many guys we have in the front court. Jordan’s not doing anything wrong, but we’re committed to starting Damian because of his size and his potential.”

On an NBA floor flooded with genetic freaks, Jones jumps out. He’s 7 feet tall. And even if he sometimes lacks touch, he oozes pure athleticism.

“We’re grooming him and he’s doing a nice job,” Kerr continued of Jones, who got the halftime interview treatment from NBC Sports Bay Area on Monday night.

Then there’s Kevon Looney (the best $1.6 million players in the NBA), Jonas Jerebko (of Utah-revenge-game-fame) and Draymond Green (small-ball virtuoso) to contend with.

“Looney is just ahead of Jordan,” Kerr said. “This is his fourth year. Jordan’s got two years in, or a year in. This is his second year. And Jonas gives us floor spacing. And sometimes we go back to Draymond, quickly, if things aren’t going well.

“So, more than anything, it’s a number’s game. So, it’s frustrating for Jordan but he hasn’t done anything wrong, but it’s just a reality. It’s hard to play everybody.”

Jones is playing, and thriving, amid his baptism by fire.

Steve Adams. Rudy Gobert. Nikola Jokic. Deandre Ayton.

“I thought he passed this week’s test with flying colors,” Kerr said. “He’s doing really well.”

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