Alfonzo McKinnie has taken a relatively unique route to find his way into the NBA. His career journey has included paying for a G League tryout, stops with international teams, playing 3×3 (a variation of half-court three-on-three basketball), and 14 games with the Toronto Raptors. Perhaps unknown to most Dubs fans prior to training camp, McKinnie took a chance on himself by accepting a non-guaranteed contract with the Warriors.
He is now making his presence felt in the first round of the NBA Playoffs for the Golden State Warriors.
In October, Stephen Curry gave McKinnie praise for what he had seen early in the season: “He’s an amazing rebounder, he has confidence when he shoots the ball… he doesn’t need much time to get going — if he plays two minutes or 10 minutes.”
Having now played in his first five games of the playoffs, the 26-year-old forward has averaged four points and three rebounds (including one offensive rebound) in just under 10 minutes of action per game. Though his stats may not jump off the page, his performance has caught the attention of head coach Steve Kerr; when asked about McKinnie’s first minutes in the playoffs, Kerr said: “The thing I love about Zo is he’s fearless… he’s making the most of his moment. And this is not surprising to me from a guy who’s had to fight his way into a job.”
Natural athletic ability and a knack for finding offensive rebounds aside, McKinnie has started an interesting streak for himself: excluding Game 2, when he played just over three minutes and did not take a shot, McKinnie has made his first field goal in every game. In Games 1 and 3, he splashed three-pointers for his opening shots. In Game 4, he started with a made layup and then made a close-up jump shot.
McKinnie displayed that confidence on again Wednesday against the Clippers, when he took his first shot of the night. With the clock winding down in the first quarter, Curry double-teamed, and his other teammates tightly contested, the swingman was the only player with an open look at the basket. End result: splash to beat the buzzer.
“Zo has been great… he has the athleticism to not only hang in an NBA playoff game, but even to stand out in a playoff game,” said Kerr.
Look for McKinnie to continue his fearless play through the playoffs as he battles for offensive rebounds and takes his shots.