Steve Kerr: Marquese Chriss has been ‘the surprise of camp’

Golden State Warriors big man Marquese Chriss has played for three teams during his three seasons in the NBA, but he may have found some footing as he prepares for his fourth year in the league.

Chriss played well during the preseason for the Warriors, and that’s helped him maintain a spot on the roster — for now, at least.

The Warriors waived Alfonzo McKinnie on Friday, which made room for Chriss to remain on the roster. Chriss is currently on a non-guaranteed deal with Golden State, and he can potentially earn a guaranteed contract in January, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr praised Chriss’ play recently in a story from Slater. “He’s been the surprise of camp,” Kerr said.

Chriss averaged 9.4 points per game and 8.0 rebounds over five games during the preseason. During the Warriors third preseason game, he posted a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

Per Slater, the Warriors kept Chriss over McKinnie in part because Chriss is younger. But they also kept Chriss because they have a need for bigs.

Willie Cauley-Stein is currently out with a left foot sprain, and he is expected to miss multiple games to begin the season. Kevon Looney tweaked his hamstring in training camp, but Slater reported in his piece that Looney will likely play in the regular-season opener. Alen Smailagic, a rookie, is out with a sprained ankle.

That leaves the Warriors with Omari Spellman, who hasn’t played well. Spellman averaged 4.3 points and 6.5 rebounds in four preseason games.

Kerr spoke to ESPN’s Nick Friedell about waiving McKinnie, who was a productive player off the bench for the Warriors in 2018-19 season.

“He’s everything you want from a player in your locker room, in terms of being a great teammate, a great worker. Just a really high character human being,” Kerr said. “So this is just the way things have fallen out. The injuries at the center position have put us in this spot, along with the hard cap. And we tried to see if there were ways we could keep Marquese and Zo and we just couldn’t find any ways so we need Marquese, with the injuries, and the center spot and with our general lack of size anyway.”

Chriss has always been athletic at his size, but he hasn’t flourished yet into an impactful player. Through his first three seasons, Chriss has averaged 7.6 points and 4.5 rebounds on 42.9% shooting from the field.

For Chriss, perhaps playing with the Warriors, a team that has been the epitome of excellence the past few years, can prove beneficial for his career.

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