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Kevon Looney
Kevon Looney at 2016 D-League Showcase.JPG
Looney in 2016
No. 5 – Golden State Warriors
Position Power forward / Center
League NBA
Personal information
Born (1996-02-06) February 6, 1996 (age 22)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)
Listed weight 220 lb (100 kg)
Career information
High school Alexander Hamilton
(Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
College UCLA (2014–2015)
NBA draft 2015 / Round: 1 / Pick: 30th overall
Selected by the Golden State Warriors
Playing career 2015–present
Career history
2015–present Golden State Warriors
2016–2017 Santa Cruz Warriors
Career highlights and awards
Stats at NBA.com
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com

Kevon Grant Looney (born February 6, 1996) is an American professional basketball player for the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association (NBA). As a freshman playing college basketball with the UCLA Bruins, he earned second-team all-conference honors in the Pac-12 in 2014–15. After the season, he decided to forgo his college eligibility and enter the 2015 NBA draft, and was subsequently selected in the first round by Golden State with the 30th overall pick. He won an NBA championship with the Warriors in 2017, before winning his second championship a year later, as the Warriors won back-to-back titles.

Growing up in Wisconsin, Looney was named the top high school player in the state as a senior in 2014. He also received national recognition as a five-star prospect and earned All-American honors. In his only season at UCLA, he led all freshmen in the nation in double-doubles, recording double figures in both points and rebounds in 15 games. One of the top players in the Pac-12, he was also named to their all-freshman team. As a rookie with Golden State, Looney's playing time was limited after undergoing surgery on both of his hips. The following season, a strained left hip sidelined him for most of the playoffs during their championship run.

Early life[edit]

Looney was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Doug and Victoria Looney.[1] As a youngster, he watched his older brother Kevin, who was six years older, play pickup games. Like his brother, Looney became a Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant fan, and would watch tapes of Bryant and copy the Lakers star's moves.[2]

Looney was the best player on his high school team at Alexander Hamilton High in Milwaukee.[2][3] He was already being recruited by colleges as a freshman, receiving offers from in-state schools Marquette and Wisconsin.[4] In his sophomore year in 2012, he was named Player of the Year of the Milwaukee City Conference after averaging 20.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.[1][5] As a junior, Looney averaged 26.1 points, 12.4 rebounds, 7.0 blocks and 3.1 assists per game, and led a team of mostly unproven players to a runner-up finish for the conference title.[1][6]

In his final season, he averaged 27.9 points, 12.7 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 8.0 blocks per game;[1] both CBS Sports and The Post-Crescent called his averages "nearly" a quadruple-double.[7][8] Though he was Hamilton's tallest player, he was also their best passer, and played mostly at point guard.[2][9] Hamilton went undefeated in conference play to win its first league title in four years,[10] and Looney earned his second City Conference player of the year award.[9] He gained national recognition, becoming just the second player in Milwaukee Public Schools history, and the sixth ever in Wisconsin, to be named a McDonald's All-American; he was a Parade All-American as well.[3][9] Looney was named Wisconsin Mr. Basketball by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association, and Gatorade and the Associated Press named him their state player of the year.[10] He was listed as a five-star prospect by Rivals.com, ESPN.com and Scout.com, who ranked him nationally as the No. 10, No. 12, and No. 15 player, respectively.[1]

College career[edit]

Looney announced on Halloween in 2013 his decision to attend the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). No recruiting analysts at 247Sports.com had predicted his decision, which was a secret to everyone including his parents.[7] Looney liked California, and called UCLA the "most beautiful campus I had ever seen."[6] He was impressed with UCLA coach Steve Alford's vision for the team.[11] The Bruins did not guarantee Looney a feature role as a freshman, but sold to him that he would be allowed to play both inside and outside and show his versatility, much like Kyle Anderson did for the Bruins in 2013–14.[2]

Looney as a UCLA freshman on defense against USC

Upon his arrival at UCLA, Looney suffered a hip injury. He rested for two-to-three weeks before the season and did not exhibit any related issues the rest of the season.[12] Playing power forward for the Bruins, he was one of the top freshman in the country in 2014–15.[13] In the season opener, he debuted with 20 points, nine rebounds and three assists in a 113–78 win over Montana State. CBS Sports called his performance "one of the more impressive freshman debuts in UCLA's rich history."[7] He followed up with double-doubles in his next four games, and became the first freshman in UCLA history with at least four double-doubles in his first five games.[a][1] Soon, pundits began projecting Looney as a freshman lottery pick should he decide to enter the National Basketball Association (NBA).[7][17][18] He had seven double-doubles in the Bruins' first 10 games, before scoring in double digits just once during a five-game losing streak for UCLA, which included an 0–2 start to their Pac-12 Conference schedule.[19] Looney helped the team end their streak with career highs of 27 points and 19 rebounds in an 86–81 double-overtime win over Stanford.[20][21] He was one of 14 players named to the midseason watch list of the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) for the Wayman Tisdale Award, presented annually to the nation's top freshman.[22] He was also one of 16 finalists for the inaugural Karl Malone Award, given to the top power forward in Division I men's basketball.[23]

UCLA rarely called plays for Looney, and his scoring typically came off putbacks, fast breaks, and open shots.[24][25] A natural at rebounding, his shooting improved as the season progressed. After making just nine of 28 of his three-point field goals in the first 24 games, Looney was 11 of 17 in the last seven games of the regular season.[13] Still his scoring tapered off, with only one game over 15 points since his career-game at Stanford.[24] In the 2015 Pac-12 Tournament, Looney exited mid-game after he took an arm to his left cheek during UCLA's quarterfinal win over USC. He was a game-time decision to play the following day against Arizona, when he was cleared and fitted with a protective mask just 90 minutes before the contest. Though impaired by the mask, he played 30 minutes but was limited, finishing below his season averages with only five points and four rebounds.[26][27][28] The Bruins lost 70–64, but the close match helped them secure a bid into the 2015 NCAA tournament.[29] Looney continued to play wearing the mask as UCLA advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season.[30]

For the season, Looney started all 36 games and did not miss a practice.[31] He averaged 11.6 points and led the team with 9.2 rebounds per game, finishing with 15 double-doubles. Among all freshmen nationally, his double-doubles led the nation and his rebounding ranked second.[32] His rebounds and double-doubles ranked second among all players in the Pac-12. Looney made 47.0 percent of his field goals, and 41.5 percent from three-point range.[30] He was voted second-team All-Pac-12, and named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team.[33] He was also named second-team all-district by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).[34]

College statistics[edit]

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
2014–15 UCLA 36 36 30.9 .470 .415 .626 9.2 1.4 1.3 0.9 11.6

Professional career[edit]

Looney (left) on assignment with Santa Cruz in 2016

Golden State Warriors (2015–present)[edit]

Hip injuries (2015–2017)[edit]

After one season with UCLA, Looney decided to forgo his remaining college eligibility to declare for the 2015 NBA draft.[30] However, his draft stock dropped over concerns with his hip.[12][31][35] ESPN.com reported on the morning of the draft that he had undergone surgery on his hip before the 2014–15 season, and stated that "he probably misses the [following] season."[31] However, Looney's camp denied he had any procedure done.[31] He had also heard that some teams did not think his success at UCLA would translate to the NBA, and there were executives and scouts that did not believe he played hard enough.[36] One of 19 players who attended the draft, Looney fell to the final pick of the first round, where he was chosen 30th overall by Golden State.[31][36][37] The Warriors, who had recently won the 2015 NBA Finals, stated that they had no evidence that Looney required any further treatment. Nonetheless, they were comfortable with any recovery time that he might need, given his age, potential, and the team's established core lineup.[31][38][39] On July 8, 2015, he signed his rookie scale contract with the Warriors,[40] and played on their Las Vegas Summer League team.[41] On August 20, Looney underwent a successful right hip arthroscopy to repair a torn labrum.[41]

On January 4, 2016, Looney was assigned to the Santa Cruz Warriors, Golden State's D-League affiliate, after he was cleared to practice following rehab from his surgery.[42][43] He made his professional debut on January 12 with Santa Cruz, logging a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds in 16 minutes against the Idaho Stampede.[44] On January 24, he was recalled by Golden State after averaging 8.0 points and 10.0 rebounds in 18.2 minutes over five games.[45] Three days later against the Dallas Mavericks, Looney was activated for the first time due to an injury to big man Festus Ezeli.[46] He made his NBA debut that evening, becoming the 11th former UCLA player to play for the Warriors. Looney scored on his first attempt and finished with two points and two rebounds in a 127–107 win. He was given the game ball after the game.[47] Golden State had him continue working on his conditioning,[48] and he received multiple assignments to Santa Cruz.[49]

Looney suffered a setback in March, when he was sidelined by inflammation in his surgically repaired hip.[50] The Warriors finished the regular season with an NBA-record 73 wins, breaking the previous mark of 72 set by the Chicago Bulls in 1995–96. On April 22, Looney underwent a successful arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum on his left hip, which was expected to sideline him from four to six months.[51] A similar procedure had been performed on his right hip eight months earlier.[39] He finished his rookie year with five games played with Golden State and 12 in the D-League.[52] The Warriors made the NBA Finals in 2016, where they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games despite having a 3–1 lead.

Looney did not play in the 2016 summer league while he continued to rehab.[53] Unable to play most of the previous 15 months, he came to training camp overweight.[54] During the preseason, he battled James Michael McAdoo to be the No. 5 forward on the Warriors depth chart.[55] Looney started the 2016–17 season strongly.[56] On November 26, 2016, he made his first career start in place of an injured Draymond Green. He finished with six points, three rebounds, and two assists in 18 minutes of play in a 115–102 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.[57] However, Looney grew ineffective in limited minutes, and his playing time diminished.[56] On January 13, 2017, he received a one-game assignment to Santa Cruz after an extended stretch of limited playing time. He was impressive in his D-League season debut, logging 18 points and 20 rebounds in 24 minutes.[58][59] It was the first of three D-League stints for him during the season.[60] Looney missed most of April due to a left hip strain. Golden State finished the regular season with a league-leading 67 wins and advanced to the NBA Finals, where they defeated Cleveland in five games to win their second championship in three years. Looney was inactive for all 17 playoff games, missing 12 due to his left hip.[60]

Recent years (2017–present)[edit]

Healthy at last, Looney lost 30 pounds (14 kg) prior to the 2017–18 season after hiring a personal trainer over the summer and changing his diet and training program.[54] However, he was one of six centers on the team behind starter Zaza Pachulia and veterans David West and JaVale McGee, while youngsters Jordan Bell and Damian Jones appeared to have brighter futures.[61] On October 27, 2017, Looney had nine points on 4-of-4 shooting and five rebounds in a 120–117 win over Washington. Finally able to play extended minutes without being out of breath, he helped lead an 18-point second-half comeback after Green was ejected late in the second quarter.[54][62] On October 31, Golden State did not exercise their fourth-year option on Looney for 2018–19 due to his contract's luxury tax impact on their payroll, making him an unrestricted free agent the following summer.[62] Nonetheless, he began receiving regular playing time despite not having played in seven of the Warriors' first nine games.[63][64] Golden State coach Steve Kerr stated that the league was shifting towards a small-ball, switching style of play, and he called Looney "our best switching [center]".[64] On November 11 in a 135–114 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, Looney had four points and three blocked shots with a plus-minus of +14 in 15 minutes while matched up mostly opposite Joel Embiid, one of the league's top centers.[65] Looney's playing time in December dropped to seven minutes per game after the rookie Bell passed him on the depth chart.[66][67] On January 4, 2018, against the Houston Rockets, Looney had seven points and tied his then-career high with eight rebounds in 15 minutes in a 124–114 win. He played the final 6:30 of the game and was more effectively switching defensively on Rockets guard Chris Paul than Bell, who remained on the bench in the second half.[66][68] After playing minimally and sitting out the last two games,[66] he was praised by Kerr for being an "amazing example of what being a professional is about in this league."[69] On January 12, Looney returned to his hometown and played a career-high 23 minutes while scoring nine points on a perfect 3-of-3 shooting with another eight rebounds, three assists and a block in a 108–94 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.[67][70] On March 17, he had career highs of 13 points and six blocks in a 124–109 win over the Phoenix Suns.[71][72] On March 27, he grabbed a career-best 11 rebounds off the bench in a 92–81 loss to the Indiana Pacers.[73]

Playing in the first postseason of his career, Looney and the Warriors won the first round of the 2018 playoffs 4–1 over the San Antonio Spurs. McGee was the starting center, but Looney became Kerr's favorite, playing the most (100 minutes) of all the Warriors' big men.[74][75] Looney guarded LaMarcus Aldridge well,[76] and Kerr praised his defense and ability to switch onto Spurs guards Patty Mills and Manu Ginóbili on pick and rolls. He was steadier than Bell, and former starter Pachulia did not receive any playing time the entire series.[74][75] Golden State captured the conference semifinals 4–1 over the New Orleans Pelicans. In the series, Looney emerged as the team's most dependable center and defended Anthony Davis adequately.[76] In the final two games, he became the Warriors' sixth man after the team went small and started their Hamptons Five lineup with Green at center.[77] Against the Rockets in the conference finals, Looney moved into the starting lineup in Game 4 after forward Andre Iguodala was sidelined with a leg contusion.[78] He started the final four games of the series, and the Warriors defeated Houston 4–3 to advance to the Finals for a rematch against Cleveland.[79] The Warriors swept the Cavaliers 4–0 for their second straight championship. Looney started Game 1 before being supplanted in Game 2 by McGee.[80] He played 39 minutes in the four games, but only three minutes in the last two after Iguodala returned.[81]

Player profile[edit]

Looney is 6 feet 9 inches (2.06 m) tall with a 7-foot-4-inch (2.24 m) wingspan.[66] His length allows him to switch and defend guards, and he can defend the rim.[66][69]

NBA career statistics[edit]

Legend
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
Denotes seasons in which Looney won an NBA championship

Regular season[edit]

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
2015–16 Golden State 5 0 4.2 .571 .500 .000 2.0 .0 .0 .0 1.8
2016–17 Golden State 53 4 8.4 .523 .222 .618 2.3 .5 .3 .3 2.5
2017–18 Golden State 66 4 13.8 .580 .200 .545 3.3 .6 .5 .8 4.0
Career 124 8 11.1 .560 .250 .568 2.8 .6 .4 .6 3.3

Playoffs[edit]

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
2018 Golden State 21 5 18.4 .542 .000 .381 4.2 0.9 .7 .4 4.1
Career 21 5 18.4 .542 .000 .381 4.2 0.9 .7 .4 4.1

Personal life[edit]

Looney has one older sister, Summer.[1] He is the cousin of Nick Young, who is also an NBA player. They became teammates with the Warriors in 2017–18.[82]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Looney had earlier become the fourth UCLA freshman in the past 22 years with a double-double in either of his first two games.[14] The first three were Charles O'Bannon, Kevin Love, and Kyle Anderson.[15] Looney later became the first Bruins freshman with two double-doubles in his first three games.[16]

References[edit]

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