Outdoors & Sports
Jonas Jerebko, NBA’s Lone Swede, Giving Boost To WarriorsJanuary 14, 2019
On a December night in Oakland, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry turned in typical performances with 29 points and 22 points, respectively, with Durant draining a game-sealing 3-pointer for the Golden State Warriors.
But the Warriors, the defending NBA champion, got a big lift that night from an unsung hero who has provided a big boost off the bench all season. Jonas Jerebko, the only Swedish player in the NBA, made 10 of 12 shots and scored a career-high 23 points as Golden State beat Dallas 120-116.
Jerebko joined the Warriors before the season after spending eight seasons (not including 2010-11 when he sat out because of an Achilles injury) in Detroit, Boston and Utah. He made an immediate impact, tipping in the game-winner at the buzzer as Golden State beat one of his former teams, Utah, in the second game of the season.
Halfway through this season, he’s providing 20 minutes a game off the bench for the Warriors, the most he’s averaged since his second season in the league. A big man (6-10) with 3-point touch, Jerebko is averaging 7.4 points and 5.1 rebounds, again the most since early in his career.
After that big game against the Mavericks, Curry told Monte Poole of NBC Sports: “He’s a big part of what we do. He’s very versatile in terms of what he can offer. He can shoot the ball really well and he’s pretty smart on defense in being in the right position and sacrificing his body. On the offensive end, he just tries to make the right play at all times…He’s really implemented himself into what we do.”
For his part, Jerebko told Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle: “My role here is freer than it’s ever been in the league. I’ve been setting screens and getting to the corner and shooting threes (previously). Here, it’s more about being involved in the plays. So, it feels good.”
Jerebko, whose father played at Syracuse before beginning a basketball career in Sweden, became the first Swedish player in the NBA when he was drafted by Detroit in 2009 and started 73 games his rookie year for the Pistons with 9.3 points and 6 rebounds. Jeffery Taylor, who was born in Sweden and played at Vanderbilt, became the second Swedish player when he played for Charlotte from 2012-15.