Juan Toscano-Anderson identifies Warriors, Lakers role differences

JTA’s thoughtful answer on if he was ‘hindered’ by Warriors originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Juan Toscano-Anderson wore plenty of hats for the Warriors last season, from starting games to serving as a key role player off the bench.

And after signing with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency this offseason, he’s looking forward to carving out a new identity.

During Lakers Media Day on Monday, Toscano-Anderson was asked if he feels like Los Angeles will provide him with more opportunities to show off his skill set, and his answer spoke volumes of not only the Warriors culture he left behind, but of his former teammate Klay Thompson.

“I want to tread lightly when I answer that question, because I don’t believe I was hindered in Golden State,” Toscano-Anderson began. “I think the difference between [Los Angeles] and Golden State is that there are a lot of new faces here. Pretty much the whole roster, more or less, is new, and so we’re all trying to figure it out and figure out where we get in.

“The thing about Golden State is, Klay Thompson has been there 10 years. When Klay Thompson comes back, it doesn’t matter who’s there, you have to move out of the way.”

Toscano-Anderson averaged 13.6 minutes per game for the Warriors last season after averaging 20.9 minutes in the 2020-21 reduced COVID season. Still, he appeared in 89 percent of the Warriors’ 82 regular-season games last season compared to 73 percent the season prior.

Given Toscano-Anderson’s position on the wing in 2021-22, Thompson’s triumphant return to the court post-injury on Jan. 9 left one less hole for the reserve to fill.

But Toscano-Anderson understands the gravity of Thompson’s impact on the court and the key role that the entire Warriors core plays.

“They have guys who have longevity there. They have a culture there, and I think that was the difference,” Toscano-Anderson said. “So it didn’t really matter how well I was or was not playing, when Klay Thompson came back, we all knew what the deal was. And so it is what it is.”

In the end, both players helped contribute to the team’s fourth NBA championship in eight seasons.

“That’s the way of the game,” Toscano-Anderson continued. “Sometimes you get in situations where things like that happen. Still won a championship. I’m very satisfied with the way my season went last year.”

Toscano-Anderson finished last season averaging 4.1 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists while shooting 48.9 percent from the field and 32.2 percent from behind the 3-point line.

Now, he’ll look to make an impact with the Lakers as one of several fresh faces, but this time alongside stars like LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis.

“But moving forward here, like I said: New faces, new opportunity, a bit of an unknown from all the guys coming in and trying to find a niche on this team,” Toscano-Anderson said. “I think that is to my advantage, because we’re all starting from square one.”

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And even though he isn’t on the Warriors anymore, it’s clear Toscano-Anderson still has the utmost respect for his old teammate Thompson.

“We all have the same opportunity, as opposed to me competing with a guy who’s a three-time champion who’s been there for 10 years,” Toscano-Anderson continued. “I mean, I’m not going to win that battle. And it wasn’t a battle, you know. Klay is Klay, he deserves that spot.

“So I don’t think I was hindered there. But I do think there is a bit more opportunity here with the Lakers, seeing the makeup of our roster this year.”

As Toscano-Anderson looks to make a name for himself in the City of Angels, the former Golden State fan favorite can rest assured Dub Nation will be rooting for him — until the start of the regular season.

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