The Golden State Warriors’ 2015 offseason was a hectic combination of Larry O’Brien tours, talk show interviews, and summer social media photos. I’ll be honest, I forgot there was even a draft that year since I was so focused on the offseason celebrations. Thankfully, the Warriors front office stayed the course and selected Kevon Looney, a 6-foot-9 forward from UCLA, with the last pick in the first round.
Looney’s hips were a target of speculation from draft experts and GM’s alike but the Warriors decided to take a chance on him.
Two months after the draft and with full support from the Warriors and GM Bob Myers, Looney underwent successful hip surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip.
Myers told NBA.com that “Kevon has his entire NBA career ahead of him and we felt that, in consultation with our medical staff, Kevon and his representatives, it was best to address the issue now.”
After months of rehab and multiple assignments to the Santa Cruz Warriors, where he averaged 9.8 points and 7.4 rebounds in 12 games, Looney finally played in an NBA game. On January 27, 2016, he played 6 minutes, grabbing 2 rebounds and scoring 2 points, courtesy of a jumper from the top of the key. Unfortunately, Looney’s hip problems continued to persist and he underwent another hip surgery, this time to repair a torn labrum in his left hip, on April 22, 2016.
From the time of Looney’s hip surgery to the present, the Warriors lost in the NBA Finals and signed Kevin Durant, along with a host of talented veterans. Even with a heartbreaking end to the season and numerous players coming in and out of the organization, Looney seems very optimistic about the 2017 season. Looney recently spoke to The San Francisco Chronicle about the upcoming season.
“I’m really eager,” Looney said. “I’ve been watching, running and doing drills now for what feels like two years. To be able to get on the court and actually be healthy, I’m really excited for that.”
Coming out of college, Looney had the fundamentals and rebounding ability to make it as an NBA player, but he needed a lot of work on his body. He only weighed 222 lbs at the 2015 NBA Draft Combine and many NBA executives were worried that his hip problems might hinder his ability to put on the necessary weight. But according to SFGate.com, Looney has put on 20 pounds of muscle and now trains twice a day, five times a week.
Even if Looney is successful with his rehab and offseason weight training, cracking the Warriors rotation will be like climbing a Mount Everest that has suddenly grown more sky-scraping peaks. The Warriors signed big men Zaza Pachulia and David West in the offseason, along with 7-footer JaVale McGee, and also drafted another 7-footer in Damian Jones. Looney also has to worry ab2nd-yearyear player James Michael McAdoo. McAdoo only played 6.4 minutes per game last year — he even got some garbage time minutes in The Finals — but with a weakened bench, McAdoo could see his minutes increase.
So far, Kevon Looney’s NBA career hasn’t gone as planned. Multiple hip surgeries and a stacked bench has kept him from seeing the floor. However, I can see him making a big leap next year. Several new players will need to learn Golden State’s offense and Looney has had a full year to learn it, playing in both Oakland and Santa Cruz. He can be somewhat of a teacher to his new teammates, albeit a young and inexperienced teacher.
Looney can be a younger big brother, a kid genius of sorts — youthful in his appearance but wise beyond his years.