3-on-3: Thoughts from Warriors-Cavs
The Golden State Warriors (18-13) defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers (10-20) a few nights ago. The Warriors World staff covers a few topics as a result of the contest.
1. Steph Curry or Kyrie Irving?
Jesse Taylor: It’s Curry for a few reasons; beginning with the fact he is the best player on a winning team. The Warriors made it into the second round of the Western Conference playoffs last season and now, in Curry’s fifth season, are on pace to make it into the playoffs again.
Irving’s Cavs have hovered around a .300 winning percentage in his two-plus years in the NBA. At some point, he may lead a team into the playoffs, but it doesn’t look like it will happen soon. In the horrendous Eastern Conference where a 13-17 record currently gets you in the playoffs as an 8th seed, the Cavs are still on the outside looking in.
Curry has the better supporting cast, but the fact that Irving hasn’t made the Cavs better than they have been counts against him.
Looking specifically at their play, Curry is the more potent weapon right now. His shooting, ball handling and passing make him one of the NBA’s best players. Recently, he’s become a triple-double threat, grabbing rebounds as David Lee and Andrew Bogut look on like Great White Sharks losing a meal to a Rainbow Trout.
Over the summer, I ranked Curry as the Warriors 5th best player of the last 25 years, behind Mitch Richmond and Baron Davis. By season’s end, he should be #3 on that list, trailing only Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin.
Jordan Ramirez: Steph Curry, and that’s no slight on Kyrie Irving either. Curry has simply elevated his game to an elite level over the past two seasons and is doing it on a team with championship aspirations. While Irving is great, Curry is the better, more well-rounded player at this point in their careers.
Curry has turned passing into one of his strengths, quietly improved on defense and has continued to display his incredible shooting skills on a nightly basis. Curry’s PER has improved each year while Irving’s has stayed relatively the same (it’s decreased by one point this season as opposed to last). Both share similar usage — Curry at 28.5 and Irving at 30.1 — and both offenses are built to maximize their talents.
For as much as Curry has shot this season, Irving has actually shot it 53 more times, but Curry possesses a ridiculous 57.8 TS% while Irving is at a 52.5 TS%. At this point, Curry is simply doing more at a higher pace for a better team. It’s important to note that Irving is three years younger than his counterpart, so the possibilities of him increasing his production and improving his overall game are possible if not probable. You can’t go wrong with either at the helm, but Curry is the easy choice for your team right now.
J.M. Poulard: Stephen Curry. Uncle Drew is one of the most creative players in the league and an astounding finisher, but Stephen Curry is essentially what Cleveland Cavaliers fans are hoping Kyrie Irving eventually becomes.
Curry is the best player on a playoff team while Irving is a talented player that has yet to put it all together and turn his team into a winner. Another way to answer the question: Irving is a top-10 point guard, while Curry is top five in the lead guard hierarchy.
2. Should the Golden State Warriors take a chance at signing Andrew Bynum if he were to get waived?
Jesse Taylor: For the Warriors to obtain Bynum, he’d first have to be cut by the Cavs and then clear waivers. The team could then sign him for the veteran’s minimum. From there, the real question becomes why not sign him? What are the reasons you wouldn’t want this guy on your team?
One of the Warriors’ greatest assets is its team chemistry and the support that Mark Jackson has from his players. So the Bynum question should be one Bob Myers first addresses with the coach and the players: “Do you guys want him on your team?”
NBA players talk amongst themselves. The Warriors players have heard about Bynum from his former teammates. And it won’t be biased information like the quotes unnamed sources provide to the media.
So guys like Curry, Klay, Iguodala, Lee and Bogut should have a say in whether or not they want Bynum as a teammate.
From the outside, I don’t have a problem with it because Bogut, Curry, Green and Iguodala are the type of leaders that won’t let a potential bad apple spoil the team. Also, among players, Jackson is one of the most respected coaches in the league. The Warriors present a great atmosphere for Bynum to thrive in. If it doesn’t work out, it’s low risk. Just waive him. If it does work out, you have an excellent post player on both ends of the floor who can play next to Lee or Bogut. He strengthens a weak bench. He could be an important player during the playoffs – even if he can only play 10-15 minutes a game. He can help against teams that have viable offensive threats at the center and power forward positions.
Jordan Ramirez: No, and I don’t believe they will anyways. For all the good will and chemistry that Mark Jackson has built in the locker room over the years, bringing in the biggest cancer in the league — an injury-prone one at that — wouldn’t be worth the trouble.
This is a young team, a team not fit to bring in such a reclamation project to try and salvage their paltry bench production. He’s tempting considering his low price tag, age and position, but he would only be a placeholder until Festus Ezeli returns and there’s no guarantee Bynum will ever be close to the levels of production he had with the Los Angeles Lakers.
His best fit is on a veteran team with strong personalities that can show Bynum what a great work ethic and championship pedigree can get you. Miami and to a lesser extent San Antonio come to mind.
J.M. Poulard: If it costs them next to nothing, he’s worth the risk given the Warriors’ lack of depth on the interior. Thus, if the Cleveland Cavs waive him and Golden State signs him for the minimum, he might be the difference between making the second round and the Western Conference Finals (remember, Golden State might open up in the first round against the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder or even the Memphis Grizzlies).
Size is a necessity to compete in the west and Bynum would give the Warriors a quality albeit unreliable backup center on the roster. I’d rather have a game-changing wildcard on the bench as opposed to a subpar second unit that rarely gets the job done.
3. What’s “wrong” with the Warriors?
Jesse Taylor: An offensive spark off the bench. Draymond Green has been a defensive, all-around hustle spark, but they are lacking a bench player to come in and carry the scoring load for the second unit. Harrison Barnes should be that guy, but has been inconsistent in his second NBA season. Someone like Jamal Crawford, Lou Williams or, yes, Jarrett Jack.
A Sixth Man of the Year candidate last season, Jack would be even more impactful this season because of the presence of Iguodala. You can limit Jack’s minutes (he averaged 30 per game last year with the Warriors) and reduce the negatives he brings to the table – like not passing enough to Curry, dribbling into corners and bad defense. Despite his faults, Jack made the Warriors better when he played. He hit clutch shots and was an amazing locker room presence. The defense had to account for Jack when he was on the floor.
You telling me the Warriors couldn’t use him at 15-20 minutes per game this year?
Jordan Ramirez: The Warriors biggest problem is their consistency on the offensive end. For a team with so many gifted scorers they have way too many isolation plays, stagnant possessions and long scoring draughts. Their offense has been better since Andre Iguodala has returned, but he’s still not 100 percent and the offense isn’t clicking yet either.
The bench has contributed to their offensive struggles, but the starters have too often started off slow and dug themselves a hole, then leaving the bench to try and help trimming the lead. Not the best idea with the lack of scoring talent on this second unit. A healthier Iguodala, increased urgency, more ball movement and pick-and-rolls will all help with these offensive droughts. Not to mention the acquisition of a veteran point guard before the trade deadline. This team is far from a finished product.
J.M. Poulard: Technically nothing. The Warriors have dealt with injuries, which have hurt them on both sides of the ball. Granted, every team goes through rough patches and the ones built to withstand them typically fare better.
Thus, upgrading the second unit might be the way to go for the team to ultimately meet high expectations.