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NBA Players From Golden State Have Easy Time Embracing Culture in Santa Cruz

Young players on the Golden State Warriors like Festus Ezeli and Nemanja Nedovic have positive feedback surrounding the D-League and appear to appreciate what their organization has going on in Santa Cruz.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

A major goal of the Warriors' organization continues to be strengthening the ever growing bond between the squads in Golden State and Santa Cruz. Needless to say, the D-League team does a solid job of providing its parent affiliate with an assist whenever necessary and/or possible.

As fate would have it, synergy is in fact continuing to form between the two teams. Players on the NBA squad not only sense as much, but they embrace it, too.

Second year forward Festus Ezeli spent one of his more recent Saturday nights taking in minor league basketball alongside (Golden State Assistant General Manager / Santa Cruz G.M.) Kirk Lacob and friends.

"I think our team is very good. The fans come out and support. The house was packed. Nemanja Nedovic was down there. Ognjen Kuzmic was there too. I wanted to support my teammates and former teammates. Lance Goulbourne is there, and we went through college and everything together. That's my guy." Ezeli told

He continued, "They're doing a great job. There are a lot of [parallels], especially with our team. I think Kirk (Lacob) and Andrew Loomis are doing a great job. It was great to see."

Such awareness from a player like Ezeli is refreshing to see. Unprompted, he understands how hard his teammates are working, and recognizes the effort that front office is making to ensure the D-League team is a valuable asset to Golden State.

Further recognizing the commonalities, the 24 year old added, "They try and do everything just like here --- the intro, the blackout, music, everything. It's fun to watch."

Currently rehabbing from a longterm injury of his own, Ezeli is yet to have appeared in a game this season. Could he be primed for a D-League stint upon a return to the court? If he's looking for positive feedback, the forward needs to look no further than to Nedovic for optimism surrounding such a situation.

"I'm working out with the team during practice. We play a lot of five on five. The main reason I'm there is that we don't practice a lot here. That's the one thing I need most," the guard said. "Then I have individual workouts with [Coach Casey Hill]. I'm working on my game."

Ironically enough, in addition to recognizing the benefits of spending time in the D-League, Nedovic also praised the minor leaguers he plays alongside in Santa Cruz. The guard's presence takes minutes away from other resident guards, most notably Seth Curry. Nedovic appears to appreciate that aspect of it, giving credit to the players in Santa Cruz for being able to roll with the punches and adapt.

"It's a great group of guys. I have a lot of respect for them, because whenever someone from the NBA comes down there, they steal the players' minutes. They're okay with that," he added. "They're still supportive. It's a great group, and I think we're going to make the playoffs."

The fact that he has the minor league squad's postseason situation in mind, and chooses to say "we," further proves how much a part of things Nedovic really feels.

But of course, the dedication the Warriors have in making things work makes the transition for Nedovic to continue going back and forth much easier, too.

"They run almost all the same plays. They have the same strategy," he concluded. "They practice harder because they have fewer games than we do, but it's very similar."