Moses Moody’s Role Increases as Gary Payton II Reportedly Leaves Warriors

Moody’s role, readiness increases as GP2 reportedly gone originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The warriors were hit with a huge loss on the first day of NBA Free Agency, as Gary Payton II reportedly agreed to a $28 million three-year contract with the Portland Trail Blazers worth up to $30 million.

Instead of watching Payton guard Portland stars like Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons up and down the field, the Warriors now have to take on the spirited guard three times a season. There is no full replacement for Payton’s unique abilities. It will be a group effort.

And it starts with Moses Moody.

When the Warriors selected Moody as the No. 14 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Arkansas freshman was seen as the more pro-ready prospect between him and Golden State’s No. 7 pick Jonathan Kuminga. But Kuminga kept opening eyes and his sheer athleticism was sometimes too much to keep off the floor. Steve Kerr also showed how much he already trusts Moody at a pivotal moment when the rookie was just 19 years old.

Moody, now 20, essentially got Payton’s minutes in the Western Conference final against the Dallas Mavericks with the veteran on the shelf with a broken left elbow. He averaged 12.8 minutes per game in the conference final, averaged 4.6 points and made half of his 3-point attempts. Where he really jumped out was the other side of the ball.

Kerr didn’t wait to get Moody off the couch early while surrounded by gunmen. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard/small forward has a 7-foot-1 wingspan and is technically very solid, not afraid to hit the ground for a loose ball. Not everything can be seen in the box score, but looking at the way he would put a hand in the face of Mavs star Luka Doncic shows how much the little things matter to him already.

Its impact was more apparent than ever as the Warriors nearly made a wild 29-point comeback against the Mavs in Game 4, with the backups and role-playing taking over. Moody scored eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter and scored both of his three-pointers. He didn’t hesitate for a moment with the ball in his hands and looked like a seasoned veteran ready for the big stage. The rookie also had two steals and four deflections.

Moody was already expected to take a leap and expand his role in Year 2. Now that Payton is reportedly on his way to Portland, his timeline has moved up a bit and his willingness has become just that much more important.

“Resilience, discipline,” Moody told reporters on Wednesday when asked what he learned as a rookie. “It was a lot of different things, a lot of different points in this year that asked me to be a different person or to think in a different way, to have a different way of thinking and I was kind of impressed with my ability to, recognize who I need to be during that time and change my mindset to be OK with it and be on guard on and off the field and be able to maneuver it.

“In the end I was 19 years old. This is all new to me. I’ve never been in a work environment. It’s a business. This is the first time I have colleagues. I’m learning how to become an NBA player I’m learning how to be an adult, how to have a job, how to be a celebrity. All those things are new, so I was impressed with the way I could maneuver.”

Such were the warriors.

And Moody doesn’t take time off with the NBA Finals and the Warriors’ championship parade in the rearview mirror.

RELATED: How could Warriors replace GP2 if he leaves in free agency?

He is already back on the field practicing with the Warriors’ Summer League team and is expected to play at least one of the Warriors games this weekend in the California Classic at Chase Center. Whether he will also play in Las Vegas is yet to be determined. What is Moody’s main focus right now?

The whole of basketball. Literal.

“I work on everything,” Moody said. “Everything needs work. I’m working on my jump shot – spot-up, shoot from the catch, shoot off the dribble. Defense – defense on the ball, defense off the ball. Transition – push the ball, play with pace, fast make decisions End in the transition, end around the edge.

“I could sit here and mention anything I want to work on, but I’d explain the whole basketball game if I did.”

Moody was praised all season for his poise, maturity, work ethic and… be able to stay ready as a rookie. Now all those aspects are being put to the test. The work has just begun.

He certainly looks more than ready for his next challenge, too.

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