Jordan Bell’s dream of making it to the NBA had come true when the Chicago Bulls selected him with the 38th pick. But shortly after, the dream became even sweeter when the California native’s draft rights were sent to the defending champion Golden State Warriors for 3.5 million in cash.
Bell spent three years as an Oregon Duck, during which time he was the anchor of a defense that made the Elite Eight and the Final Four in the last two years. During Oregon’s 2017 Elite Eight win over Kansas, Bell put up one of the most memorable stat-lines in recent memory with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 8 blocks. His prowess on the defensive end won him the Midwest Region MVP during the NCAA Tournament. This award went along with Bell’s Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award he won at the end of the regular season.
Despite all of these achievements at the collegiate level, mock drafts rarely had Bell going in the first round. Some thought he could sneak his way in, but ultimately fell out. But this could be a blessing in disguise, as the Warriors are a perfect fit for him.
Bell was an outstanding defensive player in college, and it’s obvious that he’s NBA-ready in that regard. His main issue is that he lacks a solid offensive game. Last season was a career best scoring average for him with 10.9 points-per-game. Bell is freakishly athletic, and a solid finisher at the rim, but is a non-threat outside of the paint. Luckily for Bell, he landed on a team where this will not matter. The Warriors have one of the greatest offenses in NBA history at its disposal right now, so it’s unlikely that they will ever have to rely on Bell to contribute much offensively. This will give Bell room to emphasize his strengths.
The Warriors were already one of the top defensive teams in the NBA, but the team has been lacking a center that fits their system. Golden State was at its best when it played an athletic small ball lineup with Draymond Green playing center. The Warriors were weaker when starting center Zaza Pachulia was on the floor. Pachulia was a decent center, but he did not have the rim protection or athleticism that truly goes with the Warriors’ system. Bell will be able to fill both of those needs. His 6-foot-9 frame was seen by many as a weakness, but the Warriors play small ball enough that this won’t be a problem. It’s obvious Golden State sees that, because 3.5 million is a hefty number to pay for a second round pick.
Bell will be in a unique spot to start his NBA career. He will play for the best team in basketball, and his role will be very low pressure. Given that he addresses one of the only weaknesses the Warriors have, he will probably see plenty of minutes next season. He might even have the opportunity to become a starter with his history of playing center. His defensive skills are Draymond-like, which is great news for Bell because he is the very player he is going to learn from. Golden State found a keeper in Jordan Bell, and Bell ended up on his perfect team.