Brad Wanamaker shook his head barely and smiled earlier than pausing to contemplate the query.
It was January 2019, and Wanamaker — then a seldom-used reserve guard for the Celtics — had simply delivered the perfect efficiency of his nascent NBA profession in Boston’s 114-93 win over the Mavericks at TD Backyard. Referencing a 38-second, first-quarter stretch during which Wanamaker drilled two 3-pointers, a reporter requested him postgame what these photographs did for his confidence as a younger participant.
“I’m not younger,” Wanamaker stated. “I’m 29.”
Wanamaker was an NBA rookie, however he was additionally an skilled skilled, having excelled within the highest ranges of Europe for seven years earlier than he turned down seven-figure presents to remain abroad and signed a one-year, minimal contract with the Celtics price $838,000. That gamble took some time to repay. However after rising as a dependable backup for Boston final season, Wanamaker agreed Saturday to a one-year, $2.25 million deal with the Warriors.
This quantity, little greater than the veteran minimal, was hardly an inconsiderable funding for a staff already dealing with a luxury-tax invoice north of $134 million throughout a pandemic that threatens to keep fans away from Chase Center indefinitely. In Wanamaker, the Warriors see somebody worthy of being Stephen Curry’s major backup.
Although Wanamaker’s highlights received’t amaze, he’s well-rounded. Along with main the NBA final season with a free-throw share of 92.6, he’s a profession 37.6% 3-point shooter whose 44.4% clip from past the arc within the latest playoffs caught the eye of groups all through the league, together with the Warriors.
Wanamaker, 31, limits his turnovers and understands methods to dictate offensive tempo. On protection, he’s robust and fast sufficient to protect at the least three positions, which will probably be necessary within the Warriors’ switch-heavy system. The Celtics had a barely higher defensive ranking final season when Wanamaker was on the court docket than when he was off it.
His character and toughness helped separate him from different confirmed guards Golden State may’ve pursued in free company. A husband and father to 2 children, Wanamaker’s Instagram is full of photos of his household. Teammates rave about his professionalism and selflessness.
Two seasons in the past, whereas Wanamaker was buried on the Celtics’ depth chart, he made some extent to not miss one of many Celtics’ voluntary exercises — though such periods are usually reserved for youthful gamers. When the departures of Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier freed minutes for Wanamaker in high-stakes conditions final season, he provided Boston a stabilizing presence.
Such resolve was cast throughout his greater than half-decade enjoying in raucous arenas all through Europe. After going undrafted out of Pittsburgh in 2011, Wanamaker joined Teramo of Italy’s high league in hopes of impressing NBA scouts and returning stateside. His focus started to shift, nonetheless, when he led Bamberg to a German league title in 2015 and earned Finals MVP honors.
Wanamaker noticed that being probably the greatest gamers in Europe got here with sure perks: a seven-figure wage, a team-provided home and automotive, profitable endorsement offers, an opportunity to show his children to new cultures. As a substitute of pondering NBA or bust, he grew to become targeted on successful extra championships abroad.
In June 2018, whereas in the course of the Basketball Tremendous League finals with Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, Wanamaker acquired a name from the Celtics asking if he’d be fascinated about signing a rookie minimal deal to offer Boston extra backcourt depth. However at first, he felt conflicted.
The NBA had been his objective since he realized the sport on Philadelphia playgrounds. However the Celtics had been providing far much less cash than Wanamaker was making in Istanbul, and he had come to understand his featured position on championship-caliber groups.
After discussing it along with his household, Wanamaker determined that he’d all the time have regrets if he didn’t give the NBA a severe shot. His former Bamberg teammate, Daniel Theis, had made the same transfer the yr earlier than and blossomed right into a key rotation participant for Boston. There appeared little cause for Wanamaker to assume he couldn’t discover that very same kind of success.
What he hadn’t recognized, nonetheless, was that the 2018-19 Celtics would have such a poisonous atmosphere that even successful streaks had been marked by infighting. As Boston performed extra like a bunch of people than an precise staff, Wanamaker was pressured to observe from the bench.
After ending the season with simply 360 complete minutes (together with the playoffs), he thought of a return to Europe. Fenerbahce had provided him one other seven-figure contract and his previous beginning point-guard job. And though Boston head coach Brad Stevens needed to carry again Wanamaker to an overhauled roster, he couldn’t promise Wanamaker considerably extra enjoying time.
Nonetheless assured that he may assist the staff, Wanamaker re-signed with Boston and made himself a promise: One other disappointing yr stateside would sign the top of his NBA experiment. Inside 20 video games, he had logged extra enjoying time than he had the earlier season, establishing himself as an important position participant for a contender.
When Gordon Hayward and Marcus Sensible missed time with accidents, Wanamaker helped stop the Celtics from sliding again into dangerous habits. However final week, only a day after it used a first-round decide on Oregon level guard Payton Pritchard, Boston declined to increase Wanamaker a qualifying provide and made him an unrestricted free agent.
Regardless of his strides with the Celtics, Wanamaker nonetheless has some shortcomings. Not a lot of a playmaker, Wanamaker usually appears for his shot in transition as an alternative of passing to open teammates. He struggles with physique management and misses extra photographs across the rim than he ought to.
However on condition that the Warriors usually ask ahead Draymond Inexperienced to provoke the offense and make performs, they don’t want Wanamaker to be a conventional backup level guard. They view him as a savvy combo guard who can knock down the open jumper, play exhausting on protection and assault closeouts.
Although not younger by NBA requirements, Wanamaker is an effective funds acquisition for a staff that prizes consistency and grit.
“It’s type of humorous,” stated an Jap Convention scout, who spoke beneath the situation of anonymity as a result of he’s not licensed to talk about different franchises’ gamers. “Wanamaker was in all probability fairly disillusioned when he went undrafted and needed to go abroad, however these experiences in Europe are precisely why the Warriors need him.
“He can deal with adversity, and he is aware of what it takes to win at a excessive degree. Appears like a fairly good position man to me.”