Since acquiring Kevin Durant in July of 2016, the Golden State Warriors have featured four elite players and a well-constructed roster of role players. If one of Golden State’s four All-Stars went down with an injury, the Warriors would, on most nights, still feature more elite talent than their opponents. However, this season the Warriors have dealt with more injuries to their elite players than in recent years, which explains why they have lost seven of their last 10 games.
While it’s frustrating for key players to be sidelined with injuries, the upside for Golden State is they have found a new key contributor to potentially help them in their postseason run towards another championship. In the absence of Steph Curry, Quinn Cook has emerged as not just an NBA-caliber player, but as a versatile combo guard who can make an impact on both ends of the court.
Cook spent four seasons at Duke and went undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft. After playing in the Orlando and Las Vegas Summer Leagues, he was signed by the Cleveland Cavaliers but was waived the following month. Cook was then acquired by the Canton Charge of the NBA D-League and went on to win D-League Rookie of the Year. In September of 2016, Cook signed with the New Orleans Pelicans but again was waived shortly thereafter and acquired by the Canton Charge. Cook’s next opportunity in the NBA came in February of 2017, when he signed a 10-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks. However, Dallas did not sign Cook to another contract and he returned to the Charge briefly before signing on with the New Orleans Pelicans. New Orleans waived Cook a few months after initially signing him.
Prior to this season, Cook was signed by the Atlanta Hawks, but was cut before the beginning of the regular season. He then signed a two-way contract with the Golden States Warriors. Playing on a two-way contract, Cook has spent time playing for both the Golden State Warriors and their G-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors. With the Golden States Warriors struggling with several injuries, Cook has filled in and made the most of the opportunity.
Over his last 10 games, Cook is averaging 16.9 points, four rebounds and 3.9 assists per game while shooting 51.5 percent from the field and 45.7 percent from beyond the arc. On Thursday night, Cook tallied 30 points (a career-high), four rebounds and three assists while shooting 12-15 from the field and 5-5 from three-point range. Durant was ejected from the game in the first half and the Warriors ultimately lost to the Milwaukee Bucks, but Quinn had another standout performance and bolstered his case for making the team’s playoff roster.
Adding Quinn to the roster for the postseason will be somewhat complicated since the Warriors will need to waive a player to open up a spot. A player like Omri Casspi could be let go in order to facilitate this, but it’s not yet a foregone conclusion that Quinn will be converted from his two-way contract. If the Warriors are convinced that Curry and Klay Thompson will be fully healthy prior to the postseason and aren’t concerned about either being injured in the playoffs, then adding Quinn may not be necessary. However, given his recent production and the fact that he brings a combination of ball-handling, playmaking and shooting that no one else on the roster has managed to in Curry and Thompson’s absence, it seems possible that Quinn could make the cut.
It would be reasonable to expect Quinn to be lobbying for his inclusion on the playoff roster given his recently play, but he says he is content to support the Warriors even if he is on the sideline.
“No, I think the 15 guys that are going to the playoffs will be good enough to win it,” Cook said when asked if the Warriors had addressed whether he would make the postseason roster. “Whatever happens, happens. I’ll still be here pushing guys in practice, being a great teammate off the floor, and I’ll be one of the loudest people in the stands behind the bench watching.”
Cook has earned the support of his teammates, including Durant.
“You can see his confidence growing,” Durant said. “That’s all you need in this league is confidence and opportunity.”
Many players would have eventually given up after going undrafted out of college and being cut several times by several NBA teams. But Cook kept working to improve his game and be prepared when the right opportunity came his way.
“I’ve never wanted to quit, as much as I was told no,” Cook said recently. “I never was going to give up on my dream. It was just more motivation for me. I just wanted to keep pushing.”
With the Warriors in need of a guard who could play on and off the ball in the absence of their star players, Cook has taken full advantage of this opportunity. To be clear, he is not Curry and shouldn’t be held to that standard. But he has proven himself to be a valuable contributor on a historically talented team and could be instrumental for the Warriors in the postseason.
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