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Originally written January 04, 2013 on NBA 24/7 365:

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The Golden State Warriors have been the NBA’s most-improved team this season, and one of the driving forces behind their remarkable turnaround has been the play of their bench. While Andrew Bogut, the team’s major acquisition, remains sidelined with his latest injury, unsung additions Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry have combined to form what is arguably the league’s most powerful one-two punch amongst reserves. With other serviceable contributors such as Draymond Green, Andris Biedrins (seriously, he’s been decent), and Charles Jenkins, the Dubs are 10-deep. While their bench doesn’t lead the league in any particular category, it does rank top 15 in virtually every basic column (PTS, REB, AST, STL, BLK, FG%, FT%). Pretty impressive considering that they lost a key player in Brandon Rush, who was signed to a two-year $8 million deal over the summer, to a season-ending ACL tear in November.

But what’s a great bench without a great towel-waver? If you think about it, a notable towel-waver can be associated with pretty much any worthwhile team in recent history. For example, Kobe and LeBron have each won titles alongside Ronny Turiaf, a wacky Frenchman with a perpetual supply of energy. Another prime example would be Brian Scalabrine, who cheered Boston’s Big Three along throughout their title run. Despite the fact that many of these towel-wavers rarely see any significant game action, their team spirit surpasses even that of the mascot, thus making them valuable assets. Remember, not all 12th men are content to embrace a towel-waving role. Some become so unhappy that they have an adverse effect on a team’s collective attitude. This is what makes a great towel-waver so important; not only are they unproblematic, but they actually bring something positive to the table.

As of now, Robert Sacre of the Los Angeles Lakers is the NBA’s most visible towel-waver. Like his predecessor Ronny Turiaf, Sacre’s greatest asset is his energy. He’s up off the bench engaging in some type of cheer after every single positive play the Lakers make, and he can also be seen providing encouragement when things aren’t going so well. Though just a rookie, Sacre has already proven himself an elite towel-waver capable of staying supremely enthusiastic regardless of the situation. He has a couple of signature moves, including a hand gesture to acknowledge a three-point field goal and a ninja-like leaping-karate-chop often seen following a slam dunk. Both can be viewed in the following video.

Obviously, there’s a lot more to being a great towel-waver than simply waving a towel. Like the game itself, the art of towel-waving has come a long way. It’s all about creativity nowadays, and that’s precisely the department in which Golden State’s Kent Bazemore is destroying the competition.

Like Sacre, Bazemore is a rookie. Having gone undrafted in June, he seemed an unlikely candidate to be living the dream right now. Though he plays sparingly, Bazemore is clearly thrilled to be a member of the up-and-coming Warriors. While Oakland certainly isn’t providing young Kent the type of exposure that LA does for Sacre, Bazemore’s talent is starting to be recognized. He made highlight reels with his reaction to Blake Griffin’s ugly three-point attempt on Wednesday night, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Observe, the best of Kent Bazemore:

As you can see, he has mastered an array of styles that is currently unmatched amongst all towel-wavers. It’s hard to say exactly which move is his go-to because he has so many of them, but the one where he gets down on one knee and points to the sky is quite possibly the most awesome and hilarious thing I’ve ever seen on an NBA sideline (especially when he adds the windmill motion). Hopefully this video and accompanying writeup help to bring more recognition to Bazemore’s work, which is making him the league’s clear-cut #1 towel-waver.

Golden State’s next game is on Saturday, when they travel to LA for a rematch with the Clippers. Be sure to watch the half where the Warriors are shooting at the basket in front of their own bench.

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