Juan Toscano-Anderson will play every part in the Warriors winning the NBA title

SAN FRANCISCO — Juan Toscano-Anderson has worn a handful of hats this season, poised and ready to do whatever the Warriors could need from him any night. He was a regular and a role player coming off the bench. He lost 17 points against the top seeded Phoenix Suns and has received a ton of DNPs.

In the regular-season finals, Steve Kerr named JTA his backup point guard while Andre Iguodala was out on the second night of a consecutive duel. Toscano-Anderson responded with eight points, hitting both of his 3-point attempts, adding four rebounds and four assists, and was up 17 in reserve in 24 minutes.

Against the Denver Nuggets, the Warriors’ first-round matchup in the 2022 NBA Playoffs that begins Saturday at the Chase Center, Toscano-Anderson played in three of the Warriors’ four games. He started two of them and didn’t play a second in one of them. In his two starts against the Nuggets, he averaged 9.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists.

And in the one game he wore his warm-up jacket, he was just as committed.

For the Oakland native, it’s simple: be prepared to conquer whatever this game throws at you.

“Stay ready man,” Toscano-Anderson said in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Bay Area. “That’s what we get paid for. You need to come to work and be prepared to work whenever your number is called. I’m just ready to play whenever my number is called. I’m excited to see if I’m going to be the biggest cheerleader or I’m competing in the game.

“Everyone from top to bottom is important. Energy is important. Your approach, your attitude is important. When I’m not playing, it’s my job to strengthen my teammates and keep us together. I always try to find something to which I can contribute the table is valuable in a way.”

Toscano-Anderson is about to get his first taste of the NBA playoffs. However, this isn’t the first time he’s found himself under the bright lights. A Bay Area prep star, he led Castro Valley High School to a record-breaking season and their first North Coast Section title. The pressure mounted first at Marquette and then as he worked his way to making a name for himself in Mexico’s top professional league.

He also had the honor of representing Mexico at FIBAs in 2016. But after Wednesday’s first playoff practice session, Juan was already feeling a surge in intensity. The NBA playoffs are a different ballgame. Everything is calculated down to the smallest detail, and Toscano-Anderson focuses on the little things.

His tireless, selfless energy is also evident on the practice pitch, preparing himself and his teammates for the start of the season proper.

“It’s pretty natural to me, it’s just who I am,” said Toscano-Anderson, who always brings energy. “Of course we all want to play. But there’s one thing I’ve always been told: ‘You can’t bring your feelings into it.’

“We have a great team, we have a competitive team. I’m not worried about playing or not at this point. We’re in the playoffs and it’s time to commit to the goal, and the goal is to win a championship.”

When Juan looks at himself in the mirror, he doesn’t just see points and rebounds. He sees an individual who is part of something more meaningful. The team is bigger than a player, especially a team with championship experience like the Warriors. That’s certainly always been the message of Golden State, just look at the franchise’s “Strength in Numbers” mantra.

They’re proud of it, as is Toscano-Anderson.

That work-like mentality that doesn’t take game time or anything else personally can be traced back to his Oakland Rebels AAU coach, who also coached Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, which is why the Rebels are now called Team Lillard.

“Every day is a different fight. Every day is different,” says Toscano-Anderson. “But yes, my AAU coach and mentor Raymond Young, I speak to him quite often. He’s pretty old fashioned. He’s just reminding me that I’m here to do my job. If I’m the 14th or 15th man on the bench and I didn’t play today, I still came to do my job. i was positive

“It’s a long road man. It’s a marathon. Things can change from game to game, round to round. Just work on my game every day, stay mentally and physically ready.”

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Things that change from game to game and round to round is another message he remembers daily. But the microscope has an even finer lens in the playoffs. Every pass, every pivot, every possession counts.

One mistake can change everything.

The Warriors had the ball on both sides there.

“These little things are important. One possession can change a whole series,” he said. “I always talk about when JR Smith got the rebound and when [the Warriors] played the Cavs in the finals. That one possession changed the whole series. The Cavs could have gone home with a 1-1 lead before Game 2 with a different attitude to play three games at home in the Finals. These things change everything.

“I’m just trying to be aware of what’s happening on the floor and to help my teammates. Because so much is happening. There’s so many fans, noise, coaches, referees etc etc. I’m just trying to be valuable to some man capacity.”

Whether it’s calling plays off the bench, helping teammates cover balls, or filling out the stat sheet when he gets his chance, Toscano-Anderson’s value to the Warriors will be felt. He’s seen the Warriors broken before and will do whatever it takes as part of the team to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

While Toscano-Anderson has the NBA on his mind for the most part, he recalls watching the Warriors outside his hotel in Panama while preparing for FIBAs with the Mexico national team. That memory will never leave him, and it’s just a reminder of how far he’s come to making dreams a reality.

“I remember thinking the whole time, ‘Damn, I’d rather be there and watch the game.’ And now it’s like, ‘Damn, I’m on the team there.’ I remember those things pretty vividly,” Toscano-Anderson recalls. “I remember exactly where we were.”

He’s here now as an integral part of a Warriors team with a win-or-lose mentality. In a season largely marked by inconsistencies, Toscano-Anderson’s energy and value, on and off boxing results, topped the list of things the Warriors can count on. From the warm ups to the final buzzer, his passion will be felt throughout the Chase Center in Game 1 and beyond.

That’s a guarantee.

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