September 30, 2022

The Warriors suffered a massive loss on the first day of NBA free agency as Gary Payton II reportedly agreed to a three-year, $28 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers worth up to $30 million .

Instead of watching Payton keep Portland stars like Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons on the field, the Warriors will now have to face the fiery guard three times a season. There is no full replacement for Payton’s unique skills. It will be a group effort.

And it starts with Moses Moody.

When the Warriors selected Moody with the No. 14 pick in the 2021 NBA draft, the Arkansas rookie was considered the more pro-ready prospect between him and Golden State’s No. 7 pick Jonathan Kuminga. . But Kuminga kept opening his eyes, and his sheer athleticism was sometimes too much to maintain. Steve Kerr also showed how much he already trusted Moody at a crucial time when the rookie was still just 19 years old.

Moody, now 20, basically received Payton’s minutes in the Western Conference Finals against the Dallas Mavericks with the veteran on the shelf with a broken left elbow. He averaged 12.8 minutes per game in the Conference Finals, averaged 4.6 points, and made half of his 3-point attempts. Where he really stood out was on the other side of the ball.

Kerr didn’t wait to get Moody off the bench early as he was surrounded by shooters. The 6ft 6in shooter/small forward has a wingspan of 7ft 1in and already plays very well technically, and isn’t afraid to get down for a loose ball. Not everything shows in the box score, but watching how he would put his hand against Mavs star Luka Doncic shows how much the little things already mean to him.

Its impact was seen more than ever when the Warriors nearly pulled off a wild 29-point comeback against the Mavs in Game 4 with the saves and roleplays taking over. Moody scored eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter and made both of his 3-pointers. He didn’t hesitate with the ball in his hands and looked like a seasoned veteran ready for the big stage. The rookie also had two interceptions and four deflections.

Moody was already expected to take a leap forward and see his role expand in Year 2. Now that Payton has reportedly headed to Portland, his schedule has increased a bit and his prep has become d all the more important.

“Resilience, discipline,” Moody told reporters Wednesday when asked what he learned as a rookie. “It was a lot of different things, a lot of different times this year that required me to be a different person or to think differently, to have a different mindset and I was quite impressed with my ability to do then, recognize who I need to be during this time and change my mindset to be okay with that and be on my toes on and off the pitch and be able to maneuver it.

“At the end of the day, I was 19. It’s all new to me. I’ve never been in a work environment. It’s a business. It’s the first time I’ve had colleagues . I’m learning how to be an NBA player. I’m learning how to be an adult, how to get a job, how to be a celebrity. It’s all new so I was impressed with how I was able to maneuver .

So were the warriors.

And Moody’s not taking time off with the NBA Finals and the Warriors championship parade in the rearview mirror.

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He’s already back on the field training with the Warriors summer league team and is expected to play at least one of the Warriors’ games this weekend at the California Classic at Chase Center. It remains to be determined if he will also participate in matches in Las Vegas. What is Moody’s main focus right now?

All of basketball. Literally.

“I work on everything,” Moody said. “Everything needs work. I’m working on my jumpshot – shot on target, shot on the ball, shot on the dribble. Defending – defending on the ball, defending off the ball. Transition – pushing the ball, playing with pace, taking quick decisions Finish in transition, finish around the edge.

“I could sit here and name everything I want to work on, but I’d explain the whole game of basketball if I did.”

Moody was praised throughout the season for his composure, maturity, work ethic and ability to stay ready as a rookie. Now, all of these aspects are about to be put to the test. The work has just started.

He also looks more than ready for his next challenge.

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