Cook making best of his time in NBA
As one of the Warriors’ two players on a two-way contract, point guard Quinn Cook navigates a split existence: the seemingly constant yo-yoing between the NBA’s most loaded team and its Gatorade League affiliate in Santa Cruz.
With Stephen Curry (right thigh contusion) sidelined for Monday night’s game against Orlando, Cook was back with Golden State to provide backcourt depth. He played five minutes and didn’t score or have an assist.
“It’s easy to feel down on yourself for being in the G League,” Cook said after shootaround Monday. “I’ve been in the G League, and I’ve had those thoughts. But this is a different situation with this two-way deal. I get to be with a team that’s the gold standard of the NBA right now. I get to learn from coaches up here, and implement what I’m learning up here and bring it down there.”
Cook, 24, has made the most of his professional opportunities. After going undrafted in 2015 out of Duke, he was named D-League Rookie of the Year. His per-36-minute averages in 15 NBA games entering Monday — 15.4 points on 50.7 percent shooting and 5.0 assists — suggest he can play at that level.
However, many front offices view him as a three-point specialist who struggles to defend elite guards. Cook signed a training-camp deal over the summer with the Hawks, only to be one of the team’s final preseason cuts.
“You can drive yourself crazy thinking why you haven’t found your niche in the league,” Cook said. “I think everybody’s journey is different, and my journey is to take it a different route. I think I can play in the NBA. … But timing is everything. I’m just happy to be here, because they’re giving me an opportunity.”
The Warriors signed Cook for insurance behind Curry and Shaun Livingston .Asa two-way player, Cook can spend up to 45 days with Golden State and the rest of the season with Santa Cruz. His $75,000 G League salary is augmented by a prorated portion of the NBA rookie minimum salary — roughly $816,000 this season — for any days he is with the big club.
In his time with Golden State, Cook has impressed coaches and teammates with his professionalism, shooting ability and command of the offense. His stints with Santa Cruz, where he is averaging 26 points, 7.4 assists and 5.8 rebounds in five games, have helped his cause in becoming a full-time NBA player.
The problem is that Cook might have a tough time getting an extended opportunity with Golden State. With Curry and Livingston on long-term contracts, Cook wouldn’t figure to be better than third string within the next several years. The silver lining: learning from the Warriors’ cast of All-Stars should better prepare him for wherever he lands next.
“I went down (to Santa Cruz) to see him play,” said
Kevin Durant, who considers Cook a close friend. “His control of the game, you can tell he’s gotten so much better. Quinn has been a hard worker his whole life, and hopefully his chance comes here sooner rather than later. I know he’ll be ready for it.”
Added Livingston: “He’s been playing amazing. I really do like his game. I really think he’s a long-tenured NBA player, for sure.” Quick trip: Center Damian Jones was recalled Monday from Santa Cruz, which had an off day, to attend practice. However, he joined Curry and Jordan Bell on the inactive list for the game against Orlando.