In an unorthodox year marked by a cramped schedule and a slew of injuries, the young guards of the Golden State Warriors have had to learn to expect the unexpected.
When Klay Thompson and Charles Jenkins were picked up by the Warriors in the 2011 NBA Draft, they could not have expected to have major roles in a backcourt that features one of the best shooters—Stephen Curry—and one of the best scorers—Monta Ellis—in the league. However, Curry’s health issues have opened up opportunities for the young players to temporarily take on bigger roles.
In the case of Jenkins, he went from not expecting to play much to registering a couple of starts early on in the season. In January, Curry went down with yet another ankle injury and with Nate Robinson being very new to the team, Jenkins found himself in a position even he didn’t expect to be in.
“Did I think I was going to start? Most definitely not,” Jenkins told HOOPSADDICT.com. “We got great guards in Steph and Monta and the addition of Nate. I’ve just been trying to come in and learn.”
Jenkins’ work ethic and attentiveness has left an impression on both the veterans and coaches of the Warriors.
“He’s been ready,” Warriors head coach Mark Jackson said. “He is a guy that shows up early, leaves late and never takes days off.”
Although Jenkins has seen his minutes fluctuate—logging just four minutes over the last four games—he said he is always prepared.
“I never know when I’m going to play and when I’m not so my mentality is stay ready and when it happens it happens,” Jenkins said.
“Jenkins is not wasting time,” Jackson said. “He asks questions, and he put himself in position for when his day comes.”
Thompson seems to be having no problem carving out a nice niche for his self on the Warriors roster. The rookie out of Washington State is averaging 7.5 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game in 16.7 minutes per night. The sharpshooter seems to be following in the footsteps of his teammate, Curry, as he is currently shooting 45.9 percent from the three-point line which is the seventh best mark in the league.
Thompson said the key for him is staying aggressive despite playing behind Ellis and Curry.
“I’m a scorer just like those guys,” Thompson said. “I try to be just as aggressive as them because that’s when I’m at my best—looking for my shot and creating for my teammates.”
One thing that makes Thompson’s life easier is having the green light from the coaching staff.
“Coach Jackson tells me to play my game,” Thompson said, “and it’s easier to defer to those guys because they’re such good players but you can’t do that all the time because you have to be a threat out there if you want to keep some balance on this team.”
The Warriors currently find themselves floating around the bottom of the Western Conference at 15-20, but with a wealth of young talent, they are a team that could be dangerous in the near future.
“We are really fortunate with the young fellas on this team,” Jackson said. “They love the game of basketball and they put themselves in position—when they are called upon they are ready.