LAS VEGAS — It didn’t take Bryce Alford long to learn that an elite college pedigree doesn’t necessarily translate to an NBA contract. During his eight pre-draft workouts, front-office executives consistently told him that he would probably need to take a circuitous route to the league.
“They said they thought I was an NBA player,” Alford said. “They just thought I needed to find my niche. It might be an interesting path to get there.”
Less than three weeks after he went undrafted, Alford is trying to parlay a Summer League stint with the NBA champions into a training-camp invite somewhere. His chances improved in the Warriors’ 78-76 double-overtime loss Tuesday night to Minnesota. Filling in for Jabari Brown (rest) in the starting lineup, he had 16 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals in 27 minutes.
Alford’s aggressive shooting helped lift Golden State out of its early offensive rut. Eager to shed his label as a one-dimensional gunner, he initiated the offense at times and flashed some nifty passing. The hope is that it was enough to impress an NBA team in need of a combo guard capable of stretching the floor.
Golden State, which already boasts a backcourt deep in scorers, is expected to add a big man when it fills its 15th and final roster spot. Alford’s best chance is to try to show another team that he can be a sharpshooter in the mold of JJ Redick or Kyle Korver.
“He gave us a little boost,” said Chris DeMarco, the Warriors’ Summer League head coach. “We were obviously looking for some scoring, and he did it. He knows how to play the game.”
A lightly touted prospect coming out of high school in New Mexico, Bryce blossomed into one of the best shooters in UCLA history under his father, head coach Steve Alford. Bryce finished his four-year career as the only player in school history to tally more than 1,700 points and 500 assists. His 329 three-pointers were a Bruins record, eclipsing Jason Kapono’s 317 more than a decade earlier.
Last season, while playing alongside Lonzo Ball, Alford posted career-best shooting percentages from the field (44.7) and three-point range (43). Still, many scouts figured he didn’t have the speed or athleticism to defend NBA guards. It also didn’t help that, at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, he is a shooting guard with a point guard’s frame.
“I knew it was a long shot to get drafted,” Alford said, “so I was probably going to have to do some work.”
Alford chose Golden State over other Summer League offers, in part because UCLA emulated the Warriors’ system. The problem was that, while stuck behind Brown on the depth chart, he totaled only seven minutes over his first two outings. It remains unclear how much Alford’s playing time will dip when Brown returns to the rotation Wednesday against Minnesota.
DeMarco’s primary focus, of course, is on developing the four players already under contract. Patrick McCaw rebounded from an off night Monday with 20 points on 7-for-15 shooting. After coaches challenged him to be more aggressive, rookie Jordan Bell (five points, 11 rebounds, five assists, five steals and six blocks) delivered his most well-rounded performance yet.
Less encouraging was Damian Jones, who piled up seven fouls (three shy of the Summer League limit), committed four turnovers and shot 2-for-6 from the field. Kevon Looney, who wasn’t much of a factor the first two games, sat out Tuesday because of an allergic reaction in his eyes.
Had the Warriors not picked up his third-year option in October, Looney would have a tough time getting the front office to justify re-signing him this summer. Some have speculated that Golden State would be best off waiving Looney before training camp to free a roster spot for a more promising young player.
Like Alford, he might need to take the long route to a lasting NBA role.
“This isn’t an easy business to get into as a player,” Alford said. “You’ve just got to stay hungry and be ready when your name is called. That’s just what I’ve been trying to do.”