Monday, October 3, 2022

Warriors rookie needs to do ‘Tough Hill to Climb’ to make roster: Insiders

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There were high hopes that Golden State Warriors rookie Ryan Rollins could defy the odds and earn a spot in the rotation as a second-round pick, but a surprise injury and deep backcourt may have changed the momentum.

The Warriors have shown great faith in Rollins, acting in the second round to pick him and then handing him a significant contract that plunged into the team’s mid-level exception. Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle predicted at the time that Rollins could jump straight into the rotation.

“Not only did the defending champion sign him to a three-year, $4.8 million deal Thursday, with the first two years fully guaranteed, but the Warriors left as they still don’t have a true backup player on the 15-man roster.” Adding point guard opens a path for Rollins to earn meaningful minutes this season,” Letourneau noted.

After an unexpected injury setback, the Warriors could now have a very different plan for Rollins in his rookie season, another insider predicts.

As NBC Sports Bay Area’s Dalton Johnson noted, the Warriors are entering their defending season with one of the deepest rosters in years, and the top 11 spots in the rotation are likely set in stone. That leaves both rookies with a “difficult hill to climb,” particularly the second-round Rollins, he wrote.

“No matter how much the Warriors like Rollins, he’s still only 20 years old and is a long-term investment,” Johnson wrote, adding that the Warriors will likely want to see him add to his batting average.

“At Toledo, Rollins averaged 16.4 points over his two seasons and 18.9 points his sophomore year. He was a nightmare at midrange but only shot 31.7 percent from there. That’s an area where he wants to improve. However, what will get him NBA minutes sooner or later is an emphasis on the other side of the ball.”

Rollins missed some important opportunities to prove himself this summer when his initial physical revealed a stress fracture in his foot that had previously gone undetected. Rollins was unable to play in the Summer League but is expected to be back in time for training camp to start in late September.

As The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Anthony Slater wrote, the Warriors are hoping Rollins could eventually find a spot behind Steph Curry and Jordan Poole at point guard.

“They’re hoping that recently drafted Ryan Rollins with a guaranteed multi-year deal is an answer, but he’s spent the summer recovering from a broken foot, which was discovered during a post-draft inquest,” the couple wrote. “There is optimism that sources say Rollins will be ready for camp, but the team will know more about his status over the next few weeks as everything ramps up.”

But it’s likely Rollins will have to prove himself in the G League while waiting for an opportunity to crack the Golden State roster, Johnson wrote.

“The reality is that Rollins will probably wear a Santa Cruz Warriors jersey for a good chunk of his rookie time,” he wrote. “If he shows he cares about defense and can control an offense, Rollins could find time as a back-of-the-rotation ballhandler when the Warriors are protecting their big players.”

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