Coming of a home victory against the Houston Rockets, the Golden State Warriors (10-14) will host the Phoenix Suns (12-15) tonight at Oracle Arena. We asked the Warriors World staff to answer a few questions discussing the state of the Warriors and also previewing the matchup.
1. Klay Thompson is coming into his own this season and has been one of the Warriors’ best bench players. Who is the the Dubs’ best bench player: Klay Thompson or Brandon Rush?
J.M. Poulard, Warriors World: Klay Thompson has been playing well as of late and now looks like the perfect player off the bench for a Warriors team that starts Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis in the backcourt. His shooting touch stretches defenses and thus allows Curry and Ellis to go to work in the pick-and-roll where they have been very good this season with David Lee as their screener.
With that said, Brandon Rush is the better player today. The former Pacers player is shooting it better from the field, makes better decisions with the ball, finds his way to his spots for open shots and plays very good defense. Rush’s size and versatility means he can play at shooting guard and small forward, but he can also matchup with a few power forwards and more than hold his own. Thompson might be better tomorrow, but Rush is the guy today. This bodes well for the Dubs’ bench.
Jordan Ramirez, Warriors World: Brandon Rush is still the Warriors best bench player. Although Klay has come alive as of late, Rush possesses the skills necessary now to be the go to guy coming off the bench. Klay has all the tools necessary to become an offensive force and serviceable NBA player in the future, but as of now he still lacks the defensive presence that Rush carries.
Ethan Sherwood Strauss, Warriors World: Love Klay’s progress, but Brandon wins this on account of stopper ability. He just hounds opposing perimeter players, chasing them around like an unwanted, lingering fart.
2. Stephen Curry has been playing like a stud as of late with his scoring, passing and ability to run the team. Does he outplay Steve Nash tonight?
J.M. Poulard: In the last encounter, Curry struggled defending Nash, as he racked up five fouls and only played 23 minutes. Hence, it’s quite possible that the former Davidson player will end up facing the same scenario this time around when attempting to defend the two-time league MVP.
Nonetheless, Curry’s play against the Nuggets and Rockets has many wondering if Mark Jackson and the Warriors have figured out a healthy compromise for their starting backcourt. Indeed, Steph has spent most of the season deferring to Ellis and allowing him to dictate how the offense would be run. But as of late Curry has become more assertive and has embraced the role of floor general for Golden State.
I don’t think that Curry will outplay Nash since the Suns’ starting point guard has far more offensive responsibilities, which in turn means that Kid Canada will have several opportunities to set up teammates and score at the expense of the Warriors point guard. Mind you, if Curry comes even close to approaching Nash’s production tonight, it should result in a win for the Warriors.
Jordan Ramirez: Yes. While Nash has been playing well this season (14.6 PPG, 10.3 APG), the Suns are still a below average team. Nash is still 38 and Curry is still 23. Besides, Nash has never been known to be a stickler on the defensive end. Expect Curry to out-Nash Nash tonight.
Ethan Sherwood Strauss: No. Nash has GSW’s number. He manipulates this team like an etch a sketch.
3. The Warriors’ second unit has at times played brilliantly this season and kept the team in games, even getting some burn in a few fourth quarters with their stellar play. How does the bench do it?
J.M. Poulard: Nate Robinson, Klay Thompson, Brandon Rush, Ekpe Udoh and Dominic McGuire. That’s how the Dubs have done it for much of the season.
The Warriors’ roster has several offensive minded players with Andris Biedrins being a cameo somewhere in there(seriously, if pressed to answer the question “what role does Biedrins play for the Warriors?”, I would have a tough time coming up with an answer besides the term starting center), especially in the starting lineup. However, when they go to the bench, they have Rush and Udoh that do a decent job of offense but that bring a lot of effort on the defensive side of the ball. McGuire does the same thing but to a lesser extent for the Dubs.
The end result is that the second unit can create some distance against opposing teams, particularly at home with their energy plays as well as their long range bombing.
Jordan Ramirez: Motivation. Looking at the Warriors most productive bench players, nearly all of them have been scorned by their former team or have lived their careers in the shadows of others. Nate Robinson had moments in New York, but they had nothing to do with the Knicks and everything to do with All-Star weekends. Brandon Rush was a productive player coming from Kansas, but he never panned out in Indiana. Dominic McGuire was cut from the now 3-24 Charlotte Bobcats before the season. Udoh and Thompson are the home grown talents that are just now paying dividends. You need this type of motivation coming from the bench, something the starters have failed to show at times this season.
Ethan Sherwood Strauss: Defense, defense, defense. Udoh, Rush, and McGuire are some of the stingiest stoppers out there, and Nate Robinson runs just enough offense to see them through.