By: Danny Leroux
The week that was:
To put it simply, the Warriors crushed two terrible teams at Oracle while losing to a tough opponent on the road. On top of the talent disparity, both the Lakers and Kings were playing on a back to back while Golden State came into both well rested.
One underrated subplot (one of the few to mention it was WW colleague Ethan Sherwood Strauss on Twitter) has been that the Warriors’ defense has been sabotaged by a metric ton of turnovers on the offensive end. The Clippers scored 28 points off turnovers including the three straight Chris Paul to Blake Griffin alley oops in the third quarter. Sacramento’s offense looked even worse on Saturday than the numbers indicated but benefited from 20 easier points. This team has immense defensive potential once Barnes comes back and the coaching staff fully utilizes Iguodala’s versatility.
The Soapbox: Figuring out the bench rotation
While Harrison Barnes missing games cannot be construed as anything but a bad thing for Golden State, they can make the best of it by procuring a better understanding of how the team should work at full strength. So far, we have seen a fair amount of Klay Thompson with the second unit and a little of Andre Iguodala. In the process, we have learned that one of the biggest challenges for a non-Barnes Warriors squad has to be the lack of perimeter shooting outside of the Splash Brothers. That reality has forced Mark Jackson’s hand to a point and put Klay’s minutes in a strange place since he plays best with Steph distributing and spreading the defensive attention and has struggled initiating the offense, though Klay improving there could be a huge benefit for the team moving forward.
I would like to see David Lee play more minutes with Steph and Bogut off the floor since he has done a respectable job anchoring the offense when necessary and give the team a little more firepower at all times. The team could do this with him playing at Center (as I advocated before the season) or with Jermaine O’Neal on the floor. The other benefit there could be playing Speights with the starters because he would feel less pressure to take bad shots and kick up the positives in his game like rebounding and defensive effort. Giving Speights minutes with the core would also force him to be accountable for his shot selection issues and the team needs that problem to resolve over the next few months.
The other key factor in terms of the bench moving forward comes in the form of Draymond Green. Beyond being sure that he will give quality effort, we have no idea what his ideal role will be as he develops in the NBA. I asked Coach Jackson about Draymond’s surprising success from three point range during the playoffs and he said Draymond had confidence and was making them in practice. Building on that success in the regular season could allow a trimmer Green to play more Small Forward while still filling in at PF in a pinch. That development would help the bench become more potent offensively and potentially shift some non-crunch time Iguodala minutes to become an initiator with the second unit, allowing Toney Douglas to play off the ball.
Having a clear-cut vision of different five man units could help game planning and ideally avoid a situation where the only reason Coach Jackson tried Harrison Barnes at PF was because of necessity.
The Week to Come:
A tough slate with four road games will give us a much better idea of how good this Warriors team is to start the season after a strange first three tilts. Philadelphia has been the surprise of the first week and rookie PG Michael Carter-Williams may end up covered by Klay Thompson if his size bothers Stephen Curry too much. The Timberwolves game should be winnable though they have been feisty so far while the back-to-back at San Antonio and Memphis will be brutal. I am expecting a 3-1 week but a .500 trip would not be a disappointment as long as the team avoids injury.