Saturday, February 4 2023

Who Baldwin Jr. wants to emulate to be ‘multifaceted’ for Dubs originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

LAS VEGAS — As a coach’s son, Patrick Baldwin Jr. watched basketball film growing up just as much as Space Jam or any other childhood movie. With his father, Patrick Baldwin Sr., being a former player and longtime college coach, the two turned on tape earlier than most kids even know how to play the game.

In those early years, Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony were the players Baldwin watched religiously. From as young as he can remember, Baldwin believed he’d be just like Kobe and Melo, two of the all-time greats. Those film sessions haven’t stopped now.

When the Warriors brought Baldwin in for a pre-draft visit, it was much more of a meeting than a workout. He got some shots up at Chase Center, but what stood out most was the maturity the 19-year-old exudes, along with his knowledge of the game well beyond his years while watch film. Those film sessions now aren’t about watching idols.

Everything is done with a purpose to further his game, which played a major role in the Warriors trusting his upside and preparation to take him with the No. 28 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, despite a disappointing lone college season.

“As you know, the game has changed a lot,” Baldwin said to NBC Sports Bay Area on the latest episode of Dubs Talk in an interview during the Las Vegas Summer League. “I like to watch [Kevin Durant], I like to watch Khris Middleton, I like to watch [Jayson Tatum]. I’m watching Otto Porter Jr., Michael Porter Jr. — guys that I think have roles that I can fill some day.

“It’s just important to be multifaceted and learn from everybody.”

Theoretically, Baldwin should be a matchups nightmare. He’s over 6-foot-9 and listed anywhere from 220 pounds to 231 pounds, with a near 7-foot-2 wingspan. He already has advanced ball-handling skills for his size, a smooth shot and lets it fly from a KD-like unblockable release point. All that sounds great.

His stats as a freshman at Milwaukee were not.

A combination of COVID and a dislocated ankle that took him out for his senior year in high school and lingered to college didn’t help. Baldwin didn’t look like a top-notch athlete and pushed through his injury at the draft combine, putting up a lowly 26.5-inch max vertical jump and ranked in the bottom-five of lane agility testing and the three-quarter court sprint. At Milwaukee, he was coached by his father, wasn’t surrounded by NBA talent and made only 26.6 percent of his 3-point attempts.

The Warriors have hit home runs late in the first round before — see Jordan Poole and Kevon Looney for reference — and have reason to believe what we last saw of Baldwin is more a mirage than reality. Given the time, being fully healthy again and playing in the Warriors’ system can let Baldwin thrive as a 3-and-D player one day.

That’s where that Basketball IQ comes back into play. The Warriors have seen Baldwin’s shooting numbers and are far from concerned. They’ve also watched the game with him, and are adamant that his skill set will help propel him as a pro.

“They’re just definitely trying to tap back into that movement shooting that I just wasn’t required to do at Milwaukee,” Baldwin said. “You talk about point-five decision-making, getting off the ball quick, making a quick decision — whether that’s [Steph Curry] or that’s me, you got to make quick decisions. Just knowing who to locate, how to set good screens. Just being a complete offensive team player.

“That’s something that I’ve already learned and picked up pretty quick here, that we love to share the ball here.”

Baldwin hasn’t shied away from what went wrong at Milwaukee or the physical and mental toll his ankle injury had on him. He tried to do too much. With the Warriors, that mindset is over.

He doesn’t have to be the man right now or in the near future. Time is on his side. The teenage forward is confident in his game and feels he’ll be better with every day that passes being around the defending champs.

From watching the likes of Durant, Tatum, Middleton and more, to sharing the court with Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and others, Baldwin is counting down the days of turning film sessions into on-court production.

“I think baseline, I have a lot of skills that I need to tap into,” Baldwin said. “But once I figure out the speed of the game, the pace of the game, defensive concepts, offensive concepts … I think that’s when I’m gonna start to take off.

“The quicker I can study in the film room and learn from some of the great players I’m gonna be playing with, I think the better I’m going to be off in the future.”

For the Warriors, that’s the thought process that made them so eager to make a low-risk, high-reward move in making Baldwin their top pick this year. The draft is a gamble, but everything he does is calculated to mold into the all-around player that so many envisioned him as in high school, and now one day as a pro.

Download and follow the Dubs Talk Podcast

Source: Yahoo Sports


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