What’s Ryan Rollins’ rookie role?

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What Warriors fans can expect from Rollins in 2022-23 season originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Life has come at Ryan Rollins fast. He was a three-star recruit in high school, struggling to attract major universities. But after being named the MAC’s Freshman of the Year at Toledo, Rollins began to realize his NBA dreams could become true.

After an impressive sophomore season, the Warriors did that for Rollins — drafting him with the No. 44 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Golden State spent $2 million to move up seven spots for the long and lanky guard. Clearly they had their eyes on him.

Rollins impressed coach Steve Kerr from afar, and the Warriors saw him as a first-round talent. In late July, one month after the draft, the Warriors signed Rollins to a three-year, $4.8 million rookie contract. The first two years are fully guaranteed, and the Warriors had to dip their toes into the mid-level exception to make it a multi-year deal.

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Can he carve out a role as a rookie, though? It won’t be easy.

2022-23 Expectations

The Warriors’ roster is at its deepest in years, with a strong top 11 that will be hard to crack. These are the players who will have to be leapfrogged: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, Kevon Looney, James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, Donte DiVincenzo and JaMychal Green. That doesn’t include the possibility of Andre Iguodala returning.

Rollins and Patrick Baldwin Jr. will have tough hills to climb.

Since Golden State drafted Green back in 2012, Eric Paschall leads second-round picks by the franchise in games played as a Warrior with 100 over two seasons. Ognjen Kuzmic played 37 in two seasons and Nico Mannion played 30 in the lone season he suited up for the Dubs.

Paschall was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team in 2020, playing 60 games and averaging 14.0 points per game on a Warriors team that was without Curry, without Thompson, without Kevin Durant, without Green for half the time and won a league-low 15 games. His role was reduced the next year, and the Warriors traded him to the Utah Jazz last offseason.

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No matter how much the Warriors like Rollins, he’s still only 20 years old and a long-term investment. Paschall was 24-and-a-half when he was traded.

At Toledo, Rollins averaged 16.4 points in his two seasons and 18.9 as a sophomore. He was a mid-range nightmare but shot only 31.7 percent from there. That’s an area he wants to improve on. What will get him NBA minutes sooner than later, however, is an emphasis on the other side of the ball.

Listed at 6-foot-4, Rollins has a 6-foot-10 wingspan. Maybe his game has a little bit of Shaun Livingston, maybe it has some Gary Payton II. We won’t know until we finally see him on the floor, and Rollins reportedly should be good to go for training camp after missing all of summer league as a precaution from his physical showing a slight foot fracture.

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RELATED: Rollins’ tattoos tell story, family-first motivation

The reality is, Rollins likely will wear a Santa Cruz Warriors jersey a good chunk of the time as a rookie. If he shows how important defense is to him and that he can control an offense, Rollins could find time as a back-of-the-rotation ballhandler when the Warriors preserve their big-minutes players.

Stay patient, Dub Nation.

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