News flash: A late first-round pick who was nagged by injury during his lone college season and didn’t play in Summer League probably won’t play a major role for the defending champions. Just because he’s surely on the outside looking in at the Golden State Warriors’ rotation as a rookie, though, hardly means Patrick Baldwin Jr.’s present and future hasn’t piqued the interest of Steve Kerr and his coaching staff.
On Wednesday’s edition of The TK Show, Kerr set expectations for Baldwin’s NBA debut with the reigning-champion Warriors, copping to the rookie’s long-shot hopes of regular playing time while feting his basketball IQ and overall feel for the game.
“Patrick, all the coaches were texting me while I was gone raving about how knowledgeable he is, what great feel he has. He’s just one of those guys who seems to understand the game and move the ball and knock down shots,” Kerr told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic. “I think the biggest thing for Patrick is to make sure he’s healthy. He wasn’t healthy last year during his one college season, he wasn’t healthy in Summer League. He’s a young guy, young guys generally have to learn their bodies and learn how to take care of themselves and how to get in the training room and weight room and do all their work. I look at Patrick as somebody with great potential and I’m really excited to see him play, but in the early stages of his career, [it will] probably be hard for him to crack the rotation. You never know, I give everybody a chance, as you know that. But with Ryan [Rollins] and Patrick both, the rookie season is really about figuring out your surrounding and figuring out how to handle yourself and how to be a pro.”
The No. 29 pick in June’s draft, Baldwin disappointed playing for his dad at Wisconsin-Milwaukee last season, failing to live up to his highly decorated prep career as a consensus top-five recruit. A badly sprained left ankle suffered during his senior year in high school dogged Baldwin as a freshman, and Golden State sidelined Baldwin for Summer League in hopes of him finally reaching full health before 2022-23.
As Kerr indicated, the 19-year-old will be a full-go for the tipoff of Warriors training camp on Saturday.
The Warriors expect everyone healthy and ready for their first practice on Saturday, per Steve Kerr. No restrictions on Ryan Rollins or Patrick Baldwin Jr., the rookies who dealt with issues over the summer. First full training camp for James Wiseman.
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) September 22, 2022
Baldwin impressed Golden State during the offseason with his diligent work ethic and natural understanding of the game. While there are several rotation spots truly up for grabs as training camp dawns, the 6’9 sharpshooter will nevertheless spend most of his rookie season watching from the bench, getting burn in garbage time while primarily honing his craft in individual workouts, the film room and maybe a stint or two in the G-League.
Don’t let that near certainty temper optimistic expectations for Baldwin’s future, though. Even if he’s never the star recruiting rankings suggested he would be, Golden State clearly believes it got a steal late in the first round.