July 21, 2024

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Warriors’ Tracy Jackson-Davis proves his worth against Team USA’s top players – NBC Sports Bay Area & California

Warriors’ Tracy Jackson-Davis proves his worth against Team USA’s top players – NBC Sports Bay Area & California

LAS VEGAS — There was a sequence Monday during Team USA’s second and final game against Team USA that highlighted several valuable lessons Trayce Jackson Davis can take home to San Francisco.

The second-year Warriors center put a high block on Steph Curry above the three-point line for Team USA teammate Jimmy Jaquez Jr., then raced to the basket and the left-hander finished the move with a left hand over Joel Embiid. Jackson Davis then sank deep in the defensive zone due to LeBron James’ driving ability, leaving Embiid open at the top of the arc.

Thus, Jackson Davis recovered too late.

He raised his hand, but Embiid was unfazed by the space he had and hit a three-pointer over Jackson Davis. It was a teachable moment that was definitely reviewed on film later in the day.

“This is the best thing that could have happened,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who is currently coaching the U.S. national team for the final time, told NBC Sports by Area.

Earlier in the game, Jackson Davis began to block Brandon Miller on his left side near midcourt, shifted his body to the right, rolled and dropped a high pass over Embiid. Then, the Warriors’ steal of a second-round pick a year ago settled in, he jumped to his feet and was fouled by Anthony Edwards on his way back.

The same game also saw Jackson Davis fall all the way to the basket by Embiid before the 2022-23 NBA MVP hit a winner over him, and Jackson Davis lost Curry on a backhand pass but was lucky enough to see Steph miss his own reverse attempt.

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Another mental note, another lesson to learn.

It was clear all day that finding value in the highs and lows was key. And the agility and mobility of Golden State’s starting quarterback in the offseason that forced Kevon Looney to the bench led to Jayson Tatum kicking the ball when Jackson Davis passed it to Tatum, exposing the ball downfield.

But perhaps Jackson Davis’ best performance on Monday came on a foul shot.

After marking Curry at the three-point line and using his height to force a pass to Anthony Edwards, Jackson Davis raced to the other side after a foul by the Minnesota Timberwolves star and saw an imbalance between himself and Curry, who had to be defended in the penalty area. Jackson Davis hit a powerful shot that left Edwards wide open in the left corner.

At that moment, Jackson Davis found Miller without hesitation, but the No. 2 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft hit a three-pointer from the corner. The score didn’t matter. It was Warriors basketball on the practice court at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“I just think about how I feel,” Jackson Davis said when asked where he’s grown the most from the start of his rookie season. “I’ve matured a little bit this year. I started the year in the G League and then got some playing time here and there, some interim minutes, and then I started at the end of the year — I just feel like my growth, I just need to keep getting better at that, keep getting better at what I need to do as a player to give my guys open shots and then finish them.”

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Sunday’s first practice match was bound to be filled with tension and anxiety among the young team. It was hard to ignore the glimpses of Jackson Davis’ success against some of the game’s biggest and best players like Davis and Bam Adebayo. It was also hard to ignore their attempts to impose their will on Jackson Davis.

Precious lessons have been accumulating day by day.

Embiid didn’t specifically name any first-team players who stood out to him, but a day after the fight against Jackson Davis, he emphasized how they are preparing for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

“They gave us a challenge, which is really good for us,” Embiid said. “They play hard and fast. They run a lot, especially at the level of some of the Olympic teams. They did a great job.”

Jackson Davis’ four-year college career at Indiana wasn’t enough to make him a top NBA draft pick. He didn’t make his NBA debut until the Warriors’ final game of 2023, when he scored 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting against the Dallas Mavericks.

Now, just over a year after sliding into the second round of the draft, Jackson Davis and fellow Warriors rookie Brandin Podziemski find themselves in a similar position to where Curry began his path to stardom.

“I wasn’t on the elite team, but my first year I was on the 2010 World Championship team,” Curry said. “You can stretch your game, get tested a little bit, work on some things and make the most of the summer. It’s great to see them go through that same kind of process.”

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Every step of Jackson Davis’ journey has seen him flourish by being given greater opportunities. Step by step, the big man with a new haircut and a tightly shaved beard realizes he’ll come out the other side a better man after battling the likes of Embiid, Davis, Adebayo and others in back-to-back practice games.

“Ultimately, being on the field with those guys was a blessing,” Jackson Davis said.

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