Podz's vocal leadership, competitiveness on display vs. Team USA


Podz’s vocal leadership, competitiveness on display vs. Team USA originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

LAS VEGAS – Full-court press guarding Steph Curry. Trapping Jrue Holiday in the corner to force a turnover. Diving on the floor and securing loose balls. Pushing the pace and hitting a 17-year-old super prospect Cooper Flagg in stride for a dunk.

Everything that made Brandin Podziemski pop as a Warriors rookie was on display during his two scrimmages against Team USA at UNLV this week as part of the USA Select Team.

“BP is the most competitive guy I’ve met when it comes to him feeling like he belongs on every court, and that’s what you need,” Curry said Sunday. “Now hopefully that carries over to the season next year.”

Podziemski to no surprise instantly agreed with his future Hall of Fame teammate when told of Curry’s assessment the next day.

“I think whatever court I step on, whether it’s this court or Wednesday at the Cali Classic, I think I belong,” Podziemski said to NBC Sports Bay Area. “I can compete with anybody. I think that’s just the mindset you got to have as an up-and-coming guy to show the older guys that you can do it.

“It’s just the confidence piece that everybody knows I have.”

Before he replaced Klay Thompson in the Warriors’ starting lineup, and before he was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team, Podziemski didn’t passively mute his voice upon his arrival at Chase Center. Some didn’t know how to respond.

Who is this kid? Does he need to be put in his place? Those questions, with some salty language, didn’t stop Podziemski. Even more so when it became evident his production was on the same page as his chatter.

Podziemski, 21, isn’t the oldest on the USA Select Team, nor is he the youngest. What he was is the most vocal.

It was impossible to miss watching parts of both scrimmages that Podziemski took it upon himself to run the offense, and also to guard Curry whenever the two shared the court. Not once he crossed half court, but everywhere he went. Orlando Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley, who coached the Select Team for the second straight year, didn’t need to ask Podziemski to call out sets and get players in the proper position on defense.

But balance is the ultimate answer in leading by example and with your voice. Podziemski doesn’t see much of a difference between the two ways of being a leader, something he’s striving to already be on a Warriors team going through major changes.

“It goes hand in hand,” Podziemski said. “I think using your voice is a way of leading by example, especially some of the young guys on the Select Team are quiet guys, like Trayce [Jackson-Davis], Cooper is pretty quiet, so is Amen [Thompson]. For me, just having a year of experience under my belt I’m just trying to talk.

“It’s funny, people say when you talk you lose energy, but for me it’s the opposite. I get more energy when I’m talking and I don’t feel as fatigued. I try to talk out there. It’s something I’ve been working on from this past season to now, being another voice on the floor with Draymond. Leading by example with talking works with one another.”

And it can also rub people the wrong way who aren’t used to Podziemski’s brash style.

After two days of scrimmaging one another, Team USA showed love to the Select Team, dapping one another and posing for a team picture. Going down the line, Anthony Edwards dapped up Podziemski. So did Holiday, Bam Adebayo and many others. Even LeBron James was all smiles with the young Warrior.

When Devin Booker was next in line, though, the Phoenix Suns star guard turned his back and looked the other. Any beef appeared to be quickly squashed when Podziemski soon after going down the line found Booker, grabbed his outstretched left arm and brought him in for a quick hug.

That’s the beauty of being on Podziemski’s side, and the reality of being his opponent. Podziemski might rub others the wrong way, but his teammates undoubtedly will go to bat for him.

The perfect example of what Podziemski gave his group of players vying to be the next big names in the NBA was a scare to Steve Kerr, and nearly an even bigger one to Team USA.

Running into the paint to grab an errant 3-point attempt, Podziemski absorbed Joel Embiid’s elbow and was lying on the court while Curry simultaneously swished a three. Podziemski was down for over a minute being attended to by trainers. He walked to the bench and held a towel to his face.

Not too long later, Podziemski was back on the court with the game on the line. The Select Team was down by one point, 74-73, as the finals seconds were counted out loud. Podziemski lured Anthony Davis to the 3-point line, tried to drive right and lefty got stuck. Davis blocked Podziemski’s game-winning shot attempt that never had a chance.

“Brandin’s just not afraid on the moment,” Kerr said. “He’s not afraid of anything or anybody. He’s always going to attack, he’s always going to be willing to make the big the play. Not afraid of anything. It’s fun to watch him compete.”

Frustrations were obvious. Rightfully so. The results also were secondary to the process of unwavering confidence and competitiveness.

Flagg stole the show for the Select Team. Podziemski proved himself as the team’s clear captain in every which way.

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