The job of an undrafted rookie playing for Golden State is to get the ball to Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson.
That might not be glamourous. It is the reality of the NBA, and Joe Ragland understands. That is one reason he is making a good impression on Warriors coach Mark Jackson. Jackson doesn’t coach his NBA Summer League team in Las Vegas; he watches from the stands and coaches in practices. Ragland, one of three former Wichita State players in Vegas, is a long way from the NBA, but he is approaching his job the right way.
“He plays with an edge,” Jackson said after practice on Thursday. “He’s giving himself a chance.”
Ragland, a point guard who earned All-Missouri Valley Conference honors as a senior, earned the summer’s most important currency — minutes. He played 18 minutes in Wednesday’s win over Miami. He also played 11 against Denver and 12 against the Lakers last week. The Warriors sent a 14-player roster to Vegas, three of whom are draft picks and three of played for them last season.
“I’m just trying to find my niche,” Ragland said. “(The minutes) are definitely a compliment to me, showing all the work I put in practice, it’s not being ignored.”
Ragland showed the scoring ability that defined him at WSU when he scored 12 points against Denver, making 3 of 5 shots and four free throws. He didn’t shoot much in the other games, a big change in his role. At WSU, Ragland performed as a scoring point who had the freedom to shoot often. He made 59 of 117 (50.4 percent) of his three-pointers and averaged 13.4 points to lead the Shockers.
With the Warriors, he is a pass-first player.
Ragland didn’t commit a turnover in his first three summer league games. That might explain why he stayed on the floor in the final minutes of a close game against Miami.
“It’s a bit of an adjustment, not knowing when your number is going to be called, not having sets run for you,” he said. “Everybody on this team is a scoring person. I’ve got to adjust and do what’s best for the team.”
It is easier to pass the ball when it’s Barnes, a first-round draft pick from North Carolina, or Thompson, a second-year player who made 10 of 14 threes in two games, getting open.
“We’ve got enough guys that can score,” Jackson said. “We need players who do the intangibles that win ball games. Joe does those things. That’s the first thing you notice. He’s tough. He knows the game. He works extremely hard.”
The Warriors wrap up their schedule today against New Orleans.