SAN FRANCISCO – Warriors guard Corey Joseph practiced Wednesday for the first time since he suffered a lumbar strain over the summer that also ruled him out of playing for Canada in the FIBA World Cup.
Joseph does not know the exact cause of the injury. He remembers that his hips felt tight and out of place and that certain movements caused his back to spasm. The Warriors had a light practice day on Wednesday and did not scrimmage, but Joseph was able to do all the shooting drills, defense and 5-on-0 work. Everything the Warriors did, Joseph participated in and was happy with how he felt physically.
“It feels great to be back on the field,” Joseph said. “Making good progress, which I’m happy with. You just have to keep moving forward.”
The veteran guard is entering his 13th NBA season and fits right in with what the Warriors were trying to find this offseason: smart, high-IQ players.
Joseph, 32, ranked eighth in the NBA last season with a 3.9 assist percentage as a member of the Detroit Pistons. In 62 games, Joseph averaged 3.5 assists and 0.9 turnovers while playing 19.8 minutes per game. He has averaged just 3.0 assists and 1.0 turnovers per game throughout his career, and has never averaged more than 1.4 turnovers per game.
For a team that led the league in assists per game last season — but also turnovers per game — Joseph’s style is one that the Warriors will welcome. As well as his leadership and career story so far.
The beginning of Joseph’s career mirrors that of Warriors rookie guard Brandin Podzemski. Joseph was selected by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft when he was 20 years old after just one year in college. Podzemski, 20, played a full season in college before the Warriors took him in the first round of the 2023 draft.
In San Antonio, Joseph could count on Hall of Fame coach Gregg Popovich, as well as Hall of Fame players Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, as well as superstar Tony Parker and even TJ Ford, who was in the final year of his career when Joseph arrived. In San Antonio. Podzemski can always ask questions and rely on the answers of coach Steve Kerr, who will one day be in the Hall of Fame and won two rings himself under Popovich, as well as a slew of future Hall of Fame players in Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Chris Paul.
Joseph is part of this mentoring group as well.
“Corey is just a great human being, a great teammate. He’s been through what Brandin has already gone through. As a junior in San Antonio, for a college year, he had a lot to learn. This was a great place,” Kerr said. “Going, being coached by Bob, playing with that group. He can recount those experiences to Branden and Branden can relate to that.”
From the bench in street clothes, Joseph saw first-hand how Podzemski was able to take lessons and turn them into production in his first NBA preseason appearance. Podzemski played 26 minutes off the bench Saturday in the Warriors’ 125-108 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, scoring 11 points, six rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block.
“He’s having a great camp so far,” Joseph said. “He does a really good job, everything he’s supposed to do plus more. Just talking to him from my experience, when I was in San Antonio, it’s kind of similar to this program right now.”
“I just try to talk up when I see something, and he does. We’ve got that open dialogue. If he sees something, he talks to me. He’s been having a great camp.”
There will be times this season where Joseph will be a crucial part of the Warriors’ success, especially in situations where Curry or Paul need to rest, or if either miss time due to injury.
There will also be a few games where Joseph will sit on the bench for the entire game. Either way, Kerr knows Joseph’s impact will be felt by the Warriors.
“Corey is a very solid player, whether he is playing or in a reserve role, he will be a really important member of the team because he always gets the team going,” Kerr said.
Neither Kerr nor Joseph could confirm whether he is expected to play Friday night in the Warriors’ second preseason game against the Lakers at Crypto.com Arena. A few other boxes need to be checked, but a big one was ticked on Wednesday.
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