As a budding rim runner, Marquese Chriss is carving a role for himself that could hold value as the Golden State Warriors embark on a new era.
This season Golden State has an opportunity to evaluate its young talent as the star backcourt of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson get back to health. Next season the Warriors could be right back in the playoff picture, assuming their core trio of Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green are healthy.
And Chriss, a bouncy 22-year-old forward, has the potential to fit seamlessly with what the new Warriors could be.
He showed as much in the Warriors’ 125-120 loss Saturday night to the Los Angeles Lakers. Chriss scored a season-high 26 points and was two points away from setting a new career high. He used his athleticism to slip behind the Lakers’ defense for dunks. He cut into open space for easy buckets.
As the Warriors’ lob player of the future, Chriss has showed this season how effective he could be when there’s space for him on the weak side or in pick-and-rolls.
Chriss has thrown down 68 dunks this season, according to Basketball Reference. That’s the second-highest mark of his career, with the highest being in his rookie season.
In 48 games with the Warriors, Chriss has played some of the best basketball of his career. He’s scoring 8.3 points per game, the second-highest mark of his career. Chriss is grabbing 5.5 rebounds, matching the career high he set during his sophomore season in 2017-18.
And to top it off, perhaps Golden State’s system of ball-and-player movement has upped Chriss’ assists to a career-high 1.7 per game.
Next season, with Curry and Thompson drawing so much attention, Chriss has an opportunity to continue building his game. He has a bevy of playmakers surrounding him to help him score easy buckets.
Green, arguably the Warriors’ most intelligent passer, could run the pick-and-roll to perfection with Chriss next season. Green ranks fifth in assists this season among forwards, according to NBA.com.
According to NBA.com stats, Chriss is currently scoring 1.8 points as a roll man and shooting 54.2% from the field on those possessions.
Despite Chriss finding some footing with the Warriors, his overall NBA journey has been filled with change. He has played for four teams in his four-year career.
Even with the Warriors this season, Chriss has been through some transition. He started off on a one-year, non-guaranteed deal in September. He was then waived in January, and in the same month, the Warriors brought him back on a two-way contract.
On Friday, Chriss’ two-way deal was converted to a standard NBA contract. The contract is a two-year deal, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
The Warriors’ offense next season is still going to be anchored by Curry’s and Thompson’s shooting prowess, and the team’s young players are going to benefit greatly from that.
Andrew Wiggins, who was acquired at the trade deadline, can simply be the pure slasher that he’s always had the potential to be. Damion Lee is another ballhandler, and he’s a quality shooter. Rookie guard Ky Bowman, who also was recently signed to a standard NBA deal, is showing he can be a solid on-ball defender.
As a player who has seemed to finally find his niche, Chriss has displayed his own value: Dive to the hoop and sky for jams.