A brief summer league chit-chat with Lakers legend and Warriors consultant Jerry West.
Q: Being on Dwight Howard’s short list, and still in the hunt hours before his announcement -- is there a moral victory in that?
West: When people look at you a little differently, it’s flattering. But when I look at the younger players we have and the job our coaches did last year, it makes you feel good people are starting to take notice, and for Dwight to have an interest in us. We had a great meeting with him, but at the end of the day, we felt like he had made up his mind where he was going to go.
Q: When did you guys identify Andre Iguodala as a target internally?
West: We have some young people in the front office interacting with people and looking at free agent lists. We all felt we needed more of a defensive presence and a player that could play multiple positions. He’s a terrific veteran. It wasn’t hard, to be honest, because of his career. You can count on him every night and pencil him in for two or three positions.
Q: Guarding three positions, playing three positions -- did you ever imagine there would be this kind of emphasis on versatility. Nobody really considered those things when you played. A guy was a point guard or a power forward or a center and that was it, right?
West:The league is changing and we don’t have many back-to-the-basket players. We now have a game that requires skill and versatility. A lot of that is about being able to think. It makes all the difference in the world to have a player in there with a high basketball IQ who can make the right decision.
Q: What’s caused that evolution, a game where a power forward is often a guy who’s 6-foot-7 hanging out in the corner?
West: The advent of so much dribbling has created a different kind of player, and it starts at a very early age. We have so many gifted ball handlers. Everything is pick-and-roll. Unless he’s a catch-and-shoot guy, a player is going to put it on the floor and attack. Kevin Durant is a wonderful ball handler. And anytime we get a Derrick Rose or a Chris Paul or someone who can do those kind of things, kids are going to emulate that.
Q: From the perspective of a Hall of Fame guard, what makes Stephen Curry the shooter he is?
West: He’s got that baby face, but this guy really likes to compete. Some people have gifts that others don’t have. When he shoots the ball, I don’t care if it’s what I consider to be a bad shot, I think he’s going to make it. He’s got almost perfect mechanics. You can’t have a flying elbow. His release, his rotation on the ball, he shoots every shot the same. That’s the most important thing with shooting -- repetition. It’s a lever, and he’s got a great lever. But even more important, he’s got something in his fingers.
Q: Can Harrison Barnes play the 4 for the Warriors?
West: Watching him develop. My goodness. His ability to become a better player in one summer is remarkable to see right now. Remarkable. He can be an All-Star player. If you look at him now, he’s gotten bigger physically. He’s a tireless worker and he’ll work on the things that will make him a better player, not just the things he does well. And our coaches know what he can do.