Alfonzo McKinnie was a training camp invitee for the defending champs. Now, he has an opportunity to be a big contributor off the bench for the Golden State Warriors.
With guard Patrick McCaw holding out his contract, the Warriors may have found a potential replacement in journeyman Alfonzo McKinnie. Thus far this season, McKinnie has appeared in all seven of the games for the Warriors, averaging 4.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game, with plenty of hustle and energy as well.
The Eastern Illinois and Wisconsin journeyman was invited to training camp as a free agent and was soon signed to a two-way contract. Just a day later on October 12, the hyper-athletic McKinnie signed a two-year regular contract with the Warriors, as he impressed the coaches and Warriors’ brass with his ability to grab rebounds on the offensive and defensive end and with his eagerness to shoot the basketball.
Against the Phoenix Suns, McKinnie had his highest scoring output of the season with 10 points, but it was the other things he did that helped the Warriors win in the 17 minutes he played. He grabbed seven rebounds, including two offensive boards, played excellent on-ball defense, contested shots and hustled to get the team extra possessions.
Against the Brooklyn Nets, he had another stellar performance with nine points, five rebounds, a steal and a block. He played with energy and hustled, and that played into him grabbing an offensive rebound. In addition to the energy and hustle, McKinnie provided some shot-making for the thin wing position for the Golden State Warriors, outside of Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala.
He even had this fantastic highlight sequence that is sure to be discussed during the team’s film session.
McKinnie a hooper. pic.twitter.com/L8PeJjKyrI
— TheWarriorsTalk (@TheWarriorsTalk) October 28, 2018
A reserve journeyman playing significant minutes on a championship team. Sound familiar?
It is a similar situation to what guard Quinn Cook had to go through and finally got his opportunity to help contribute to a championship when Stephen Curry went down with a knee injury. The difference is that McKinnie is making his contributions to the team earlier in the season than Cook did. Both players had to have long stints in the G-League before being called up and eventually signed to contracts, but it does not take away the fact that they are having an impact on a title-winning team. McKinnie can be, in a way, a “Quinn Cook” for the Golden State Warriors in this 2018-19 season.
Alfonzo McKinnie provides a shot in the arm to the Warriors’ bench with the energy and hustle he brings. He also brings two pogo-sticks for legs as he can sky for offensive rebounds and get the team another possession. He can drive well to the basket and has a nice outside shot, which he shoots 50.0 percent from deep, despite the low attempts from beyond the arc. His offensive game is only starting to develop.
According to Curry (h/t NBCS Bay Area’s Drew Shiller), the young versatile forward is just scratching the surface with his abilities on the court.
“Just amazing to watch a guy who’s had a wild journey in terms of where he’s been to get to this point — taking this opportunity and running with it. Seven games in, he’s not even close to scratching the surface of what type of player he’s going to be,” Curry said of McKinnie after the Warriors victory over the Nets on Sunday.
“It seems like whenever he’s on the court — he obviously gives 110 percent — but he’s locked in on how he can make a difference,” Steph Curry told reporters after Sunday’s win in Brooklyn. “He’s an amazing rebounder, he has confidence when he shoots the ball … he doesn’t need much time to get going — if he plays two minutes or 10 minutes.
If the two-time MVP is already praising a young journeyman on the job he’s done already, just imagine when McKinnie really gets comfortable playing in the Warriors’ system.
McKinnie provides the Warriors with more wing depth and versatility at defending the small forward and power forward positions. His length and athleticism have already helped him come up with several steals and blocks. The Warriors have added another defensive gem to an already stacked team of versatile defenders including Iguodala, Thompson, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Jordan Bell.
With more experience comes more minutes. It is safe to say that Alfonzo McKinnie will receive more minutes as the season goes on. But for now, McKinnie can do his best “Quinn Cook” impersonation of contributing his hustle, energy, rebounding and other supplementary skills he possesses to help the Golden State Warriors win. In an early season potential lull period in a long year where the Warriors have to be thinking ahead to the postseason, players like this youngster provide a nice lift.