Jordan Bell throws week long block party in Vegas

It’s highly appropriate that the three games Jordan Bell started for the Warriors in Las Vegas Summer League, he did so next to guard Alex Hamilton — because Bell will never be satisfied.

Mere minutes after completing the super rare, statistical feat of recording at least five in five different statistical categories in his first summer league start, the 6-foot-8, 225-pound Bell still wasn’t happy.

In fact he was pretty critical of his overall game:

“I think you have to play every minute the same. I think I had too many turnovers trying to force things and not being aggressive on offense.”

And that’s after he put up five points, 11 rebounds, five assists, five steals and six blocks. For any other player that would be enough, but not Bell. All he did next game was pull in a Warriors Summer League record 16 rebounds. It looks like the $3.5 million the Warriors spent on Bell is already paying for itself.

Bell had to wait for it on draft night when he fell into the second round after almost every draft expert had the Oregon Duck power forward slotted to be a Top 25 pick. But for Bell and his family, going to the Warriors was worth the wait.

And after five Summer League games it’s already clear what role he’ll fill on the Warriors, defensive stalwart. He finished second in all of Summer League in total blocked shots and ninth in total steals, the only big to make an appearance in the top 20 in steals.

He flies around on defense, anticipating shots and passes like he’s in the mind of every offensive player.

But most important for Summer League head coach Chris DeMarco is his effort:

“It’s new to him, there’s going to be some ups and downs. He’s starting to understand the terminology a little better, I thought offensively when he had him off the elbows he played well. But again, it’s just an adjustment for him. He played hard and that’s all you can ask for.”

While he’s been soaring on defense, his offensive game still lags far behind. He doesn’t have any ability to space the floor and doesn’t have much to speak of in terms of post moves, so his scoring is limited to basically just dunks.

He’s yet to really unleash the ferocious dunks he showed off in the NCAA tournament though, instead trying to finesse layups around defenders. But that just comes with experience and confidence.

For now Bell is content with figuring out the mental aspects of the NBA game:

“Just the pace and the spacing and trying to simplify the game out as much as possible. It’s not that difficult if you think about it.”

While he’s been compared to Draymond Green by himself as well as numerous articles, there’s another comp that’s starting to emerge.

It won’t instill a lot of confidence and Warriors’ fans might want to say no to this, but he is very reminiscent of former Warrior Ekpe Udoh. Before Green, Udoh was perhaps the Warriors best defender amidst a sea of offense only players. He averaged 2.9 blocks per 36 minutes in his two seasons as a Warrior and excited crowds with his rim protection, which fits Bell to a ‘T’.

But before fans get hysterical, there’s also significant differences between Bell and Udoh, Bell is a much better rebounder, much more athletic and has substantially more potential. And that all showed during Summer League, especially during his historic 5×5 game.

If that was just a taste of what is to come, history has its eye on Bell.

And so does everyone in the Warriors organization.


Curtis Uemura is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @CUemura on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.