The Weeks That Were:
After losing Andre Iguodala in the Laker game, the Warriors had a tough 1-4 stretch of mostly road games to close out November. That run was punctuated by the encouraging but deflating loss at Oklahoma City. Playing weaker teams helped out last week as Golden State beat Sacramento and Toronto (in a remarkable comeback facilitated by the Raptors being terrible) followed by a loss in Houston and a much-anticipated win against a Memphis team playing without Marc Gasol.
The Soapbox: What We Have Learned During Iguodala’s Absence
Beyond everything else, the biggest question of the end of November and early December has to be whether we have learned anything about this Warriors team without Andre Iguodala. There are a few different trinkets worth noting:
- Golden State needs Curry and Iguodala at least to be at their most dangerous but likely the full top six to be anywhere close to a threat in the Western Conference– While losing a key player will hurt any team in the NBA, the Warriors looked incredibly beatable during this stretch. They still have the offensive firepower to take out teams like Toronto and Sacramento but playoff caliber teams posed bigger challenges. This is not surprising or a terrible development, just another reminder of the importance of health.
- Klay Thompson should thank his lucky stars he plays with Stephen Curry– While still a big fan of Klay, his insanely inconsistent offense would sink teams with less talent on that side of the floor. In Golden State’s last ten games, he has scored more than 20 six times but had a five point stinker against Houston and five games under 40% from the field (all of which the Warriors lost). Getting to the line more would help consistency in a few different ways and turning his good passing instincts into more assists would boost the team as well.
- Kent Bazemore should not be the primary ballhandler at this point in his career– He does other things well and could still get better but that experiment needs to be over unless the team needs to lose games to get Harrison Barnes again.
- Draymond Green could be the seventh man– At full strength, the Warriors have a clear top six that can play in many different alignments. While a healthy Jermaine O’Neal fills the rest of the C minutes at least until Festus comes back, Draymond Green should sop up as many minutes as he can sooner rather than later. His energy helps the team while his shooting has gone from big negative to more reliable neutral, a gigantic development for such a young guy. He makes sense playing in a few different groupings with the main guys and a Curry / Klay / Barnes / Green / Bogut lineup should get a longer tryout while Iguodala is on the mend.
- I really, really, really want to see some Curry / Klay / Iguodala / Barnes / Bogut while all five are healthy– My personal favorite Warriors lineup against most NBA opponents has played eight minutes together all season. EIGHT. Some of that goes to health but some of it also reflects the same decision-making process that made the #4out success a post-season revelation rather than a common occurrence.
The Week to Come:
After a final road game against a Charlotte team playing without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the Warriors return home for Monta Ellis and the Mavericks on Wednesday as well as the Rockets on Friday. They head on a one game roadie to Phoenix before a full week of home games.
2-2 would be reasonable without Iguodala but 3-1 would show a more capable and dangerous team.