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Warriors’ Omari Spellman returns to Atlanta eager to turn his career around

ATLANTA — On Monday, Warriors forward Omari Spellman returned to the city where his NBA career started to face the team that decided they had seen enough 13 months after drafting him.

Spellman dealt with weight issues and depression during his first season in Atlanta but, after he was traded to Golden State this summer, his is among the most radical feel-good stories of the season.

Spellman landed in Atlanta a slim 260 pounds, and is getting closer to his ideal playing weight of 245 pounds as he becomes one of the Warriors’ most versatile frontcourt players.

He is averaging 7.9 points and 5.8 rebounds. Shooting 35.7% from 3-point range, Spellman provides a floor-spacing presence from a front court position. He leads the team in offensive rebounding percentage, using his recovered athleticism to grab 13.2% of available offensive rebounds.

Dealing with weight issues since high school, Spellman fell into bad habits in his first season as a professional. Earning more money than ever and without the support system that surrounded him in college at Villanova, Spellman ballooned to more than 280 pounds.

“Going through your first year and being on your own, trying to figure out some things on the court, try to figure out some things off the court,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “I think he would agree it was a trying year for him.”

“We tried to provide as much support as we could for a young player, and maybe a change of scenery was best for him. He’s off to a good start and doing well out there. But it was just an opportunity to move into a different direction and an opportunity for him to get a new start.”

The Hawks referred Spellman to counselors, nutritionists and therapists but to no avail. He couldn’t develop the discipline he needed to get in shape. By summer league, they decided to move on.

The Warriors acquired Spellman, the 30th pick in the 2018 draft, from the Hawks in exchange for center Damian Jones and a 2026 second round draft pick in July.

In 19 games for the Hawks, Jones is averaging a career highs in points (6.9) and rebounds (3.5) and minutes (18.1).

“Rookie years are tough for everybody. Sometimes getting a guy in his second year is the best time to get him,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “I think the trade worked out both sides. Atlanta was looking for a rim-running center like Damian, and we were interested in Omari’s skill and shot-making, his potential. Both guys seem to be doing well, so it looks like a good trade.”

Spellman’s diet is mostly in check and coaches are impressed with the work he’s done to get in shape. “He’s a sweater,” Kerr said.

On his end, Spellman is careful not to condemn the Hawks. In his second season, he is trying to turn his career around without looking back.

“Another game. I don’t care. I promise you I don’t,” Spellman said of Monday’s game against the Hawks. “It’s not even like a thing.”

Source: East Bay Warriors’ Omari Spellman returns to Atlanta eager to turn his career around

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