Quinn Cook could be the most important player for Dubs’ playoff run

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Quinn Cook could be the most important player for Dubs’ playoff run

Golden State Warriors' Quinn Cook (4) reacts after scoring a three-point basket against the Sacramento Kings during the second quarter of their NBA game at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, March 16, 2018. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Golden State Warriors' Quinn Cook (4) reacts after scoring a three-point basket against the Sacramento Kings during the second quarter of their NBA game at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, March 16, 2018. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

JOSE CARLOS FAJARDO

Golden State Warriors' Quinn Cook (4) reacts after scoring a three-point basket against the Sacramento Kings during the second quarter of their NBA game at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, March 16, 2018. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

JOSE CARLOS FAJARDO

JOSE CARLOS FAJARDO

Golden State Warriors' Quinn Cook (4) reacts after scoring a three-point basket against the Sacramento Kings during the second quarter of their NBA game at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, March 16, 2018. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Ryan Duarte,
Contributor

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Point guard Stephen Curry is one of the most important players for the Golden State Warriors, but he will definitely not play in the first round of the NBA playoffs, head coach Steve Kerr announced during a March 25 press conference. Until Curry returns from his grade 2 MCL sprain, point guard Quinn Cook will play the biggest role in whether or not the Dubs make the second round of the playoffs.

This is a huge deal for Cook getting his first shot to be an impactful player on an NBA roster. He does not have the combination of volume and efficient shooting Curry possesses, but he is very efficient with his overall shooting, connecting on 48 percent of his field goals and 44 percent of his three-pointers, according to NBA.com.

Cook will finally be onboard for the long run. He signed a two-year contract with the Warriors on April 10, according to ESPN.com.

It has been a long time coming for the third-year player from Duke. Cook went undrafted in 2015 and had been a journeyman before he got his shot playing for the Warriors. He previously played for the Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans and Atlanta Hawks.

The Dubs had to waive small forward Omri Casspi because of Cook’s signing. There are 15 roster spots on any given NBA roster and in order to add Cook to the Warriors’ playoff roster, someone needed to be waived from the team. Due to Casspi’s lack of production and nagging ankle sprain that kept him out for almost a month, he had to be released by the team.

While Casspi did not generate the production that was expected of him, Dubs fans can rest assured that Cook is the bench player for the near future. He could be a good starter for Golden State during the first round, but he will be even more valuable off the bench to play important minutes if Golden State has a long playoff run.

Cook also spent a lot of his playing time in the G-League, the NBA’s developmental minor league. This year he averaged 25.3 points per game, about four rebounds per game and 8 assists per game in 29 appearances with the Santa Cruz Warriors.

Cook’s shooting will keep the Warriors close in playoff games. He is the first player in G-League player in history to finish a season 50 percent on field goals, 40 percent on three-pointers and 90 percent from the free throw line, NBA.com. He nearly accomplished this same feat during the regular season with Golden State, which only seven players in league history have done, including small forward Kevin Durant and Curry.

Cook can also show his dominance on the defensive end as an on-ball defender. Overall he is an above average defender who does not usually get beat, but he can get lost sometimes when he is away from the ball. Defense usually tightens up in the playoffs, however, so the third year guard should take advantage of his opportunity to defend against the San Antonio Spurs.

Cook will be a good matchup against the Spurs in the first round. After taking a 1-0 series lead with a 113-92 win on Saturday, it was interesting to see Cook take on a bench role rather than starting as the Dubs’ point guard. However, this makes sense because the Warriors have had to address their bench woes this season.

The biggest reason for the reserve’s problems this year is the lack of outside shooting. The bench players are collectively 28th in the league in three-point shooting percentage and dead last in three-pointers made, according to NBA.com. They will need someone other than Nick “Swaggy P” Young shooting and making threes.

Once Curry returns to the starting lineup, a big question will be where Cook will fall on the depth chart. If he surpasses backup point guard Shaun Livingston, then Cook will have to help facilitate the bench unit during the beginning of the second and fourth quarters. Cook’s outside shooting will add priceless spacing for the rest of the players on the floor, which will create more shots for teammates and has also been a staple in the Warriors recent success.

There is also a chance Cook could play alongside Livingston rather than relying on Young to make a difference alone as an offensive threat. Young’s lack of defensive effort at times has hurt the Dubs, so adding Cook to be a balanced bench player could prove very valuable in a matchup where the opposing team’s guard is an offensive threat.

Whether Cook continues to take on a bench role or assumes the job as the Dubs’ starting point guard, he will offer more value to the Warriors than people expect. He has been an important piece for the Warriors so far and if he continues to play quality minutes in important situations during the postseason, he may very well be the deciding factor for the Dubs to reach their fourth consecutive NBA Finals appearance.