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Year of the Warrior: Golden State and Santa Cruz Affiliates Make NBA History

By Brian Kotloff | June 17, 2015

First Santa Cruz, now Golden State.

It’s been a monumental year for not just the Warriors in Oakland but the Bay Area franchise as a whole. Six weeks before the Dubs captured their first title in 40 years, their NBA Development League affiliate about 70 miles south — the Santa Cruz Warriors, known as the “Sea Dubs” to locals — claimed their first title in their third year of existence.

The Warriors are the first franchise ever to win the NBA and NBA D-League championships in the same season.

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The parallels between the two teams have become downright “eerie,” in the words of Kirk Lacob, former Santa Cruz GM and current Golden State assistant GM. Jim Weyermann, VP of new franchise development for Golden State and president for Santa Cruz, called them “identical twins.”

The full rundown:

Regular Season

After Santa Cruz head coach Casey Hill joined Golden State’s Steve Kerr on the bench for the Warriors’ Summer League squad, the team’s chemistry on both ends of the floor flowed from Oakland across the bay.

Like Golden State, the Santa Cruz Warriors finished with their league’s best record and best defensive rating while building an offense predicated on sharing the ball, using the same terminology and many of the same plays.

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Mac & Kuz

The big men on the end of Golden State’s bench helped form the core of Santa Cruz’s title team.

The Warriors drafted Bosnian center Ognjen Kuzmic in the second round in 2012, but he’s spent the majority of his time in the NBA D-League over the last two seasons, averaging 9.8 points, 11.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 57 games.

James Michael McAdoo joined the Warriors this year as an undrafted free agent for Summer League and the preseason, starring for Santa Cruz until earning a Call-Up in January. He was assigned back to the D-League for the title-clinching win.

Backup wing Justin Holiday, a D-League vet of 48 games, also played for Santa Cruz this season, as did center Festus Ezeli while rehabbing from injury.

 

Two 20-Point Comebacks, Same Day

Every championship run needs a signature moment. The two Warriors teams just happened to experience that moment on the same day.

On April 23, the Santa Cruz Warriors completed a comeback from 20 points down to defeat the Fort Wayne Mad Ants on the road in Game 1 of their best-of-three Finals series. Two hours later, the Golden State Warriors rallied back from the same deficit to top the New Orleans Pelicans on the road in Game 3 of their first-round series.

The @dleaguewarriors & @warriors both overcame 20-point deficits in big playoff wins last night! #DubNation

A photo posted by NBA Development League (@nbadleague) on

 

The Celebrations

 

Riley Curry Interview-Bombs

Before she became a national star during the NBA playoffs, Stephen Curry’s 2-year-old daughter “honed” her interview-bombing skills in Santa Cruz this past January, lighting up the NBA D-League Showcase with uncle Seth, star of the Erie BayHawks.

 

The Thompsons

Klay was not the only Thompson who put together a career year. Older brother Mychel was a starting shooting guard for the Warriors, as well, averaging 14.2 points in 47 games.

After scoring 21 points in a playoff game with Klay in attendance, Mychel traveled to Memphis to watch his younger brother beat the Grizzlies in Game 4 of Golden State’s second-round series.

Klay was also in the house when Mychel celebrated a title of his own.

 

The Currys

Last season, Santa Cruz had its own version of the Splash Brothers as Mychel Thompson teamed up with Seth Curry, Stephen’s younger brother by two and a half years.

Seth was later traded to the Erie BayHawks, but Steph traveled to Santa Cruz to watch him at this year’s NBA D-League Showcase, and Seth became a regular on national TV supporting his superstar sibling.

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