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Curry stayed, Thunder lost their stars - Two franchises in very different spots
Iguodala expected to return to action as the NBA's top team looks to go 4-0
For as much as I write and talk about the Golden State Warriors, I hope I never lose what has made these first three games so enjoyable. The raw fun that I get from watching Stephen Curry and the rest of this team is beyond measure - and trust me, I love to quantify things! But watching this squad cook, with vets, rookies; established old friends and new arrivals… it’s got me yelling and clapping in the solitude of my living room.
So I’m struck by the dichotomy of Golden State’s franchise, and that of his old running mate, Kevin Durant. Everyone jumped ship in Oklahoma City, and while the team has a ton of assets and some intriguing young players, I find myself a little extra thankful as I think about where these two organizations find themselves. One is committed to giving it a legitimate go with their franchise cornerstones, and the other is putting up a bunch of yellow “please pardon our dust” construction signs.
I don’t know where the ride ends up, but I’m really looking forward to this season, and I’m thankful for this journey that we are getting with Curry, Klay, and Green, plus the other edge pieces.
No big updates on the injury front tonight. As previously reported, Andre Iguodala should be available for tonight’s game.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (3-0 (baby!!!)) at Oklahoma City Thunder (0-3)
WHEN: Tuesday, October 26th, 2021 // 5:00 pm PST
Small Sample Size Theatre: Let’s get unreasonably excited!
It’s just three games into the season for the Warriors, but it’s the internet - we are allowed to over-react! Besides yesterday’s double homerun combo of Joe Viray followed by an afternoon chaser of Apricot’s Explain One Play, there’s a whole lot going well in Dub Nation right now.
So we will lead here with our core. Stephen Curry and Draymond Green have both stormed out to a phenomenal start. Curry, the face of the franchise, will be at the forefront of whatever Golden State is able to do this year. So far? So very, very good.
For those of you who don’t have your spreadsheets handy, Curry has started off the season with a triple double, followed by a nice pair of double doubles. For any other player, I’d be hesitant to get too excited after just a few games, but Curry’s career has been defined by maintaining these “unsustainable” rates. Noppl, Curry doesn’t need to average 31, 9 and 7 to make another run at MVP, but at the same time, I’m having a really hard time discounting the possibility that he ends the season with a similarly impressive stat line.
Curry is fourth on the team in regards to rebound rate, pulling down 11.4 rebounds per 100 possessions (per bball ref), and third in defensive rebounding.
It’s kind of crazy when you look at the roster all stacked up. Curry isn’t necessarily underrated as a rebounder, but it certainly seems worthy of additional praise - especially while all eyes are pointing at him for his scoring output.
I’ve taken countless decibels of backlash from my dear friend, Daniel Hardee over my B grade for the offseason, so I think it’s only fair that I point out that the two primary unknowns brought in on the free agency market, Nemanja Bjelica and Otto Potter, are leading the team in rebounding rate. It was an area of emphasis coming into the season, it matters that Golden State was able to bring in players that fix areas of need.
So far (and yes, super small sample size warning) the Warriors rank 3rd in defensive rebounding, and 9th in offensive rebounding, per bball ref.
Moving off of Curry and rebounding for a moment, I find myself thinking a lot of Draymond Green’s offense. More than any other category, things like points per game, and offensive and defensive rating need time to develop, in my opinion. But to the eyeball test (and sure, the Warriors do have the 5th best offensive rating) it’s like Aladdin singing on a carpet: a whole new world.
No one embodies this offensive resurgence more than Draymond Green. Once round numbers aside, it's not great that it’s been three seasons since Green averaged 10 or more points per game.
Green’s scoring struggles are well documented. Although he thrives as an offensive facilitator, his shot has been in critical decline. To the point where it was becoming a factor - even under the bright shining light of his defensive brilliance.
But this season? Totally different Draymond.
It goes deeper than points per game, but I like this graphic because it does come down to overall scoring, in a way. The problem of screaming “first team all defense” while being an absolute scoring zero holds a prominent place in the lore of Dub Nation.
And because of how the NBA generally works, any slight weakness brings the sharks, feeding on the fragile confidence of professional athletes whose entire career hinges on reliably doing the improbable.
So I ask you, friends, when was the last time you saw this sort of play with any meaningful level of frequency?
Between Green’s scoring, and the team rebounding, there are a couple of very strong early indications that this iteration of the Warriors roster has solved some recurring problems. With a soft schedule coming up, and my very willing sense of homeristic delusion, I foresee a rock and roll early schedule, and I’ll see you all in the mosh pit.
Hello Thunder, how ya doin’?
The Thunder are rebuilding.
A painful and slow process with no guarantee of success, it leads to a whole bunch of really, really harsh basketball. That’s where Oklahoma City finds themselves now. Taking that first bite of the turd sandwich and understanding that there’s no “good edge.”
Oklahoma City went 22-50 last season and still has more of the same to push through before they see the far side of the tunnel. Not a whole lot to worry about here if you are Golden State.
If you’re looking for a bright rising star to watch, check out Thunder rookie Josh Giddey. He's went off for 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists in their last game, and could be a fun duel for the Warriors’ punchy backcourt, if he gets going again.
I think the Warriors are going to go on a run. They’ve looked strong since preseason, and though my blood isn’t pure gold, I have a hard time seeing a loss tonight.