The Week That Was:
Well, that certainly was not the way I expected a 2-2 week to happen. The surprisingly smooth victory over Dallas and follow-up loss to the Clippers on the tail end of the back-to-back went about to form, and the quick lead against the Cavs fit the mold as well. That huge first half lead evaporated as a result of poor defense and uninspired offense as the Cavs ended up with a shocking nine-point win at Oracle.
Fortunately, the Dubs got Klay Thompson back for Sunday’s matchup against Portland, and they pulled out a comeback win of their own after trailing by as many as eighteen points in the third quarter. Both Steph and Klay played excellently in the second half, combining for 51 points in the final 24 minutes in one of the more entertaining games of the season so far.
The fact that Klay Thompson missed Friday’s game and LaMarcus Aldridge missed Sunday’s game helps explain the surprising results but only tell part of the story. This Warriors team has dug themselves into and out of deep holes all season and need to shed some of the rough patches if they want to make a deep playoff run. Hopefully Andrew Bogut’s ankle injury that kept him out of the end of the Blazers game heals quickly since he plays such a huge role in this team’s success.
The Soapbox: Freeing Draymond
Over the course of this season, it has become more and more apparent that Draymond Green is a better basketball player than Harrison Barnes, at least at present. Draymond has clearly been superior as a defender and has slotted in beautifully as the second-best perimeter stopper on the team after Iguodala. He has consistently outrebounded Barnes as well, sporting markedly better Rebound Rates for both offensive and defensive boards each of their two seasons. Both have been mixed bags offensively and Draymond’s drop in free-throw shooting from 81.8% last year to 65.5% this year is particularly disconcerting.
Now, it must be noted that Barnes could (and should) have more room to improve as a player and is more than twenty months younger than Draymond. That said, the Warriors have deliberately built a team to win now and should be focused on putting their best product on the floor. Remarkably, Green has produced more Win Shares than Barnes this season despite playing only about 75 percent of the minutes. On top of that, Draymond plays the smallest proportion of his minutes with Stephen Curry of any of the key rotation players not named Steve Blake- only 54 percent of his minutes as of early March have been with Steph on the floor.
A rotation giving more minutes to Draymond and a higher proportion of that playing time being with Stephen Curry would make the Warriors a much tougher out in the playoffs and provide another matchup problem for teams like the Rockets that possess two dangerous perimeter scorers. Astonishingly, the Curry / Thompson / Iguodala / Green / Bogut lineup that could be the single best five-man unit the Warriors have against certain opponents has only played 25.3 minutes together the entire season (via 82games.com). Another relevant figure from 82games: Barnes has only played about 15 percent of his minutes at Power Forward, which may be his best position at this point.
Harrison could certainly end up being the better player of the two a few years from now but Draymond has played better this entire season and gives the Warriors a better chance to thrive in the final push of the regular season and a potential playoff run.
The Week to Come:
The tough schedule finally subsides in two different ways over the next two weeks. The Warriors’ next two games come against Orlando and Milwaukee, which have to be classified as must-wins given how poorly both teams have been playing. After a day off, the Warriors face San Antonio for the first time since Pop sat most of their starters but the Spurs still pulled out a win at Oracle.
Considering how dangerous the Spurs are at close to full strength, a 2-1 week stands as most likely but also completely understandable. Strangely enough, the Dubs have almost a full week off at home between the Spurs and Grizzlies, one day less than their All-Star break. That should provide an opportunity to rest some tired bodies and make some adjustments with some actual practice time.