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Quinn Cook learned the hard way not to take a single minute for granted in the NBA


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OAKLAND — Quinn Cook has a nagging regret from three years ago.
When he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Las Vegas Summer League in 2015, he’d often enter blowout games with six or seven minutes left. But instead of playing as hard as he could during that time, he’d be a bit blase.
“I always regretted being too cool out there, never going as hard,” Cook said. “It took me another year to get another opportunity in the NBA. And that whole year I was just thinking, wow, if I just could’ve did that, or did that.”
Cook proved he learned his lesson in Game 3 of the Warriors’ Western Conference Finals series against Houston on Sunday. With 5:11 left and the Warriors up by 29 points, Cook entered the game and played as though it were tied.
He scored 11 points on four-for-four shooting in five minutes, helping expand the Warriors’ lead to 41 points.
Cook, now 25, said he will never repeat the mistake he made earlier in his career.
“Anytime I’m on an NBA floor, I just try to play the game the right way,” Cook said.
When Cook isn’t getting playing time, he stays ready by being active on the bench. He jumps and screams when his teammates make a good move. And he studies the game so he can share his observations with his teammates during huddles.
“When you’re locked into what we’re doing, when you’re having fun on the bench, when you’re engaged in the game, it’s just easier to stay ready and make an impact,” Cook said. “I’m just trying to be the best teammate I can be.”
Cook hasn’t gotten much playing time against Houston, totaling just over five minutes in Games 2 and 3, while not playing in Game 1. Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr explained to him that the team was going to give Nick Young more minutes in the series because he played well against the Rockets in the regular season.
But Kerr has been very impressed by Cook’s professionalism and said he could end up playing a larger role.
“Quinn is always ready, he’s a pro,” Kerr said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the meat of a game or at the end of a blowout. He’s going to come out and do his job…I have the ultimate faith in him. He could still play a role in this series and beyond if we get further.”
Cook, however, said he doesn’t care how much playing time he gets. He’s just happy to be a part of an NBA team that’s contending for a championship.
After all, just a few months ago he wasn’t even sure if he’d be on the playoff roster.
Cook was on a two-way contract, vacillating between the G League and the Warriors. Then after Stephen Curry sustained an ankle injury followed by a knee injury, Cook became the team’s starting point guard. He went on to prove that he belonged in the NBA, scoring in double-digits in 13 straight games over a stretch in March.
The Warriors responded by signing him to a two-year contract in April.
Throughout the playoffs, Cook has averaged seven points on 47.5 percent shooting in 14.1 minutes a game over 11 games.
But regardless of whether he’s playing, Cook has made it a practice of being deeply appreciative and always staying ready.
He knows how lucky he is — and he never wants to regret anything again.
“Four minutes, man. A lot of people would do a lot to play four minutes in an NBA game,” Cook said. “So you definitely don’t want to take it for granted.”
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