Santa Cruz Warriors ready for season opener
SANTA CRUZ — The Santa Cruz Warriors think they have plenty of offensive firepower as they enter their 2022-23 NBA G League opener on Friday at Kaiser Permanente Arena.
That said, they hope to hang their hats on defense this season as the franchise looks to continue developing its players and making the playoffs for a third straight season under the sophomore head coach. Seth Cooper.
“We have a really good group and I’m excited to see the product on the pitch,” Cooper said. “The level of talent with us is really good, and I think the level of talent across the G League is up.”
Santa Cruz opens the campaign with back-to-back matches before playing its first kick-off on November 9. The Warriors host the Ontario Clippers Friday and Saturday with a scheduled tip at 7 p.m. for both nights.
The Warriors opened training camp with four members of their 21-22 roster: guards Jerome Robinson (6-foot-4, 190 pounds), Kalob Ledoux (6-4, 190), JaQuori McLaughlin (6-4, 190) and Eli Pemberton (6-5, 195).
Robinson was an unstoppable force at the end of last season. His performance in games played March 21-27 helped him become the eighth player in franchise history to earn NBA G League Player of the Week honors. He averaged 26.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 7.7 assists during that week.
“I’m very excited,” Robinson said. “I think we have a great group of guys, a very talented group of guys too. I’m delighted to see what the coach is making us do, on the one hand, but on the other hand that he is entering his second year and improving as well.
Guard Dusty Hannahs (6-3, 210), a member of the 2020-21 team who competed with former NBA guard Jeremy Lin in the Orlando bubble, also attended the camp. Hannahs was a major threat beyond the arc in college. He made 242 of 612 3-point attempts (39%) at Texas Tech and later Arkansas and the former NBAer turned him on in camp, several of his Warriors teammates said.
“We’re just ready to keep building the camaraderie and having a great season,” Hannahs said. “We searched and we’re just ready to face someone else now.”
Also at training camp were Golden State Warriors two-way guard Ty Jerome (6-foot-5, 195 pounds), two-way forward Anthony Lamb (6-6, 227), guard/forward Patrick Baldwin Jr. ( 6-9, 220), Golden State’s 18th overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft, and forward Gui Santos (6-8, 210), the 55th overall pick in the 1922 draft.
Santos averaged 10.8 points and 3.2 rebounds in seven Summer League games with Golden State.
“The speed of the NBA game is like crazy, like up and down, up and down the whole game,” Santos said, before slowing down his dialogue. “The FIBA game is more like ups and downs, ups and downs. But I’m adapting to this game and I like it.
Trevion Williams, a 6-foot-10, 255-pound forward/center from Purdue, said practices are going well with such talent across the board.
“Everyone is showing progress every day,” Williams said. “You just gotta stack your chips, man. … We understand that there is work to be done. Coach emphasizes that, we emphasize it every day with each other. We’re just excited to get started.
Center Jayce Johnson (7-0, 245) and guard Jack Nolan (6-1, 170), both selected in the second round of the 2022 NBA G League Draft on Oct. 22, were among those hoping to make the final cut Thursday.
The season is important to every room for a variety of reasons, but there is a common theme.
“For me, it’s a stepping stone to my dream,” Johnson said, “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, to get to the NBA. Hopefully, I can get my foot in the door, be vu, show my work ethic, how hard I play, and hope that helps.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO
Ontario to Santa Cruz
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Kaiser Permanente neighborhood, Santa Cruz
TV: NBC Sports Bay Area+
On line: NBAGLigue.com