Ty Jerome is proving that he belongs in the NBA


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After bringing an NCAA championship to the University of Virginia, Ty Jerome decided that he was ready to step onto a bigger stage. He was drafted into the NBA in the 2019 draft and has had quite the journey since then. Draft night was already tumultuous for Jerome, who was originally selected 24th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers.  The same night, the 76ers traded Jerome to Boston together with the 33rd pick (Carsen Edwards) for the draft rights to Matisse Thybulle. Boston, however, was not Jerome’s final rookie destination, as the Celtics traded him to the Phoenix Suns (with Aron Baynes for a 1st round pick in 2020). With the Suns, Jerome’s development was slowed down by an ankle injury, but he still played in the G League and saw his first bit of NBA action. Jerome did not get to show the Suns what he could really do going forward, though, as he was a part of the deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder that brought Chris Paul to Phoenix in 2020. In Oklahoma City, Jerome was a productive player off the bench for two seasons. During this past off-season, however, the Thunder’s roster logjam due to the influx of so many drafted picks resulted in him being a casualty. He was shipped to the Houston Rockets, who subsequently waived him. Jerome was not out of work for long, though, as he signed a two-way contract with the Warriors just three days later. There he has seized the opportunity that resulted from injuries to the starters and inconsistent play from the young backups and proven that he is at the beginning of his NBA journey as opposed to the end.

On teammate Andre Iguodala’s podcast Point Forward, Jerome revealed that he was excited to sign with the Warriors because he anticipated that their veteran guards would have to take some time off every once in a while, which would open the door for him to see some meaningful minutes. Most importantly, though, Jerome wanted to play in a winning culture on a competitive team where he could learn from some of the best guards in the game. The Warriors are not winning as consistently with Andrew Wiggins, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry all having missed meaningful time, but that also meant that Jerome saw even more opportunities than he originally imagined.

When the Warriors let vital parts of their championship roster move on, they knew that they had to rely on three of their recent first round picks to pick up the slack. Jonathan Kuminga particularly has come a long way, especially as a vital defender, but it is clear that the Warriors’ young talents still need some time to grow before they can contribute consistently. Jerome can buy them that time this season. Despite his status as a two-way player, he has already played 25 games, often coming off the bench before his young teammates, and even started once while Curry was out with a shoulder injury. That injury was probably the most hard-hitting loss the Warriors experienced this season, even though Curry did not miss as much time as Wiggins did. With Curry and Wiggins out at the same time and Thompson still finding his footing, the reigning NBA champions were missing a lot of scoring. The team managed to stay afloat, but it was not easy. The pressure on youngster Jordan Poole to become a somewhat passable version of Curry and carry the team was high and the team needed another reliable ballhandler in the rotation. While Poole had to push his pace and provide explosive scoring in sometimes reckless situations, Jerome was able to counterbalance that energy. He acted as a calm, reliable facilitator who does not turn over the ball much and can create for other as well as for himself.

As of now, Jerome is averaging 7.2 points, 1.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists while flirting with 50/40/90 shooting percentages. His best game so far was the Warriors’ recent loss to the Detroit Pistons. In 27 minutes of playing time, he scored an efficient 18 points and dished out 3 assists. Jerome was also instrumental in Golden State’s win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Christmas Day, as the Warriors had to face the young, trash-talking and energized Grizzlies with a depleted lineup. Jerome was ready to step up and scored 10 of his 14 points in the third quarter, driving a run that allowed the Warriors to pull away from their new rivals for good. Sometimes his impact is more notable than other times, but Jerome can be a positive addition to any game. He can score from all three levels, attacks closeouts, makes good decisions with the ball, and he is a much better defender than anticipated. In November, Coach Steve Kerr even called Jerome a “godsend” who came to help the Warriors’ fight through all their injuries.

Jerome has been working out with Curry, observing one of the best point guards to ever touch a basketball, and videos of him going through some of Curry’s shooting drills have excited fans on social media. The 25-year-old is a hard worker, and his time with the Warriors will surely only help him improve as a player. Teammates and coaches usually refer to Jerome as a ‘winning player’ and it seems he only needed to find the right situation to make an impact on an NBA team. His 50-game limitation for this season is fast approaching, meaning that the Warriors will have a tough decision to make. It seems unlikely that they will sign both of their two-way players (Jerome and Anthony Lamb) to full roster spots, but no matter the outcome with Golden State, Jerome has proven that he can be a solid backup point guard for any NBA team. He is not an especially flashy player but he is reliable, smart, and mature – exactly the kind of player you want running your offense and who deserves to be in the NBA on a full-time contract.