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Brandin Podziemski: The Fearless Mindset of a Warrior with an Unwavering Determination

SAN FRANCISCO — Nearly a year ago on the dot, Mike Dunleavy, the Golden State Warriors’ future general manager, and Kent Lacob, an ascending front office personnel voice, hopped in a car and made the quick 50 mile trip south to Santa Clara’s campus.

They were primarily there to see Maxwell Lewis, the possible lottery pick out of Pepperdine. Lewis played fine. He’d eventually get selected 40th in the 2023 NBA Draft. Brandin Podziemski, a 6-foot-4 guard who was only beginning to creep onto the draft radar, made every significant play to lead Santa Clara to victory. His 23 points mattered. But it was the 18 rebounds that had Dunleavy’s and Lacob’s antennas up.

“Mike and I walked out of the game like, ‘Um, that guy might be a first-round pick,’” Lacob said.

Podziemski competed in the NBA Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star Weekend last Friday. He leads all NBA rookies with 14 games of at least 10 points, five rebounds and five assists, making him a clear candidate to finish on the All-Rookie first team.

Podziemski’s future surfaced recently in the visiting locker room in Salt Lake City. He’s a prototype role player right now, but has dreams of becoming an All-Star. There are roadblocks ahead and limitations to overcome. But anyone who has doubted Podziemski to this point has continually been proven wrong.“The ceiling is high,” Draymond Green said. “He’s still learning. Still figuring s— out. But when you start looking at people who are going to succeed him…”

When Curry is 40, Podziemski will be 25.

“He was great on the court,” Lacob said. “Like, really good. Clearly the best player in the workout.”

Podziemski popped in the Warriors’ analytics model, put together by their vice president of analytics Pabail Sidhu. They value it with increased frequency.

“There was a belief that he was clearly a Steve Kerr system fit, but also a consensus belief it was more than that,” Lacob said. “The talent combined with the IQ and the personality was something to bet on.”

Cam Whitmore, considered a pre-draft top-five prospect, was still available at 19. So were plenty of other valued players. But the Warriors didn’t flinch. They took Podziemski. It was Dunleavy’s first draft selection as general manager.

Podziemski’s first NBA taste was bitter. He struggled in summer league, mostly with his jumper and floater. The more he stewed, the more it snowballed.

“I had a little bit of doubt after summer league,” Podziemski admitted. “But the rest of that July period and August and September, I just attacked. I focused on what I needed to work on to be a role player on this team.”

Podziemski attended every team workout that Curry, Paul and Green organized across the summer. He was in the team facility on Aug. 1 and a mainstay almost every day after. He entered camp confident he could make some noise, even if most figured he’d spend the majority of the season in Santa Cruz with the Warriors G League affiliate.

I was like, ‘You should just be happy you’re on the court.’ He’s like, ‘Nah, we gotta figure out a way to win. They need to pass me the ball.’ I’m like, ‘Uhh, I don’t know about that.’”

Looney saw a quote from Podziemski soon after the draft that said he wanted to be a triple-double guy.“That’s pretty bold,” Looney said and…

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