Discover more from Dub Nation HQ
Draymond Green returns to a Warriors team ready to evolve
Some rough patches aside, Golden State's been in the lab
It’s been way too long, but the Golden State Warriors are finally getting the core back together. Ever since Klay Thompson went down in the NBA Finals the Warriors have been in a sort of holding pattern, championship aspirations paralyzed, while they waited to get the core healthy.
Still no Andre Iguodala, or Gary Payton; and James Wiseman’s status is up in the air… but ladies and gentlemen, Draymond Green is back!
Hey also, today is Stephen Curry’s birthday!
WHO: Golden State Warriors (46-22) vs. Washington Wizards (29-37)
WHEN: Monday, March 14, 2022 // 7pm PST
What we learned during Green’s absence
Like a sloth in a rap battle, Draymond Green has taken a loooong time to come back. But the Warriors have been busy in the laboratory, where mad scientist/coach Steve Kerr has spent all season playing with the tangled knots of Golden State’s depth chart. That Green’s return will be beneficial is a given; but in the time he was out, some things have begun to coalesce.
Via Cleaning the Glass, here are the top on/off impacts to net rating. Remember that this is mostly a team stat, but it’s one of the clearest pictures of who is playing better overall basketball:
Curry’s numbers are suitably insane, but this is also a good guess at where the Warriors playoff core will start. And it is definitely a “start” because the recent play of rookies Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga has shot them into the conversation. And now, with Green’s return, the team enters the last leg of what Stephen Curry referred to as Stage 2 of the season: get Klay integrated and get ready for the playoffs.
Thompson’s big game (38 points off of 23 shots) came just in time to prove that they don’t need Green to make everything work — but his presence sure does change a lot for everyone.
This season, the Warriors have been 43-20 with Draymond Green this season, and 15-14 without him. There’s plenty that went into it (including strong play from the as-yet unavailable Iguodala), but the team’s Net Rating is equally as telling: +6.5 points per 100 possessions with Green, and +1.6 without him. But it feels like Green’s return is happening at the right time. That current +1.6 without Green covers a whole lot of time and development. The Warriors have gone through it, but are coming out of their slump at the right time.
One of the biggest lessons learned, the value of the dangerous guard unit of Curry, Thompson, and Poole, has yet to plug Green into the equation. It’s another wrinkle that going to play into a rotation that Kerr himself called “not set.” Via Anthony Slater:
“What’s becoming apparent to me, this year, is that we could have a different starting lineup from game to game in the playoffs, series to series,” Kerr said. “This is not the Warriors from five years ago when you knew exactly what was coming. We got a lot of really good pieces, but we have some new ones, some unproven ones. We have to be able to adjust quickly on the fly if things aren’t going well. Because we’re not a veteran team in terms of having a set eight-, nine-man rotation.”
Green’s return will provide another settling influence. It’s not just that he erases mistakes on the defensive end (which he does), because of his offensive facilitation he also helps the team make the correct choices. Players like Kuminga and Moody are ready sponges when it comes to the knowledge, and their improving play indicates that with the right support around them, they may even slot into some playoff series.
But that’s later.
For now, it’s just enough that Green will return to a team that is ready to welcome him back, but doesn’t necessarily need to be immediately saved from themselves. With the newly discovered trio of Poole and the Splash Brothers, the Warriors seem to have turned a corner recently. Health aside, I’d say that the biggest question of the post season would be how well the team can handle whatever new version of the Box+1 that teams can throw at Curry. Eric Apricot calls it The Shining defense, and it’s no secret that the solution to the Warriors is taking away Curry.
For much of the season, the debate has centered around how much more Curry can do; and when the team should or shouldn’t convert to a playoff-esque single-minded mismatch pick-and-roll offense in crunch time. Under Kerr ball philosophy, the answer has always been to make the smart pass — but in order for that to work, the Warriors need weapons around Curry strong enough to make the defense pay. Adding Green to the mix alongside Curry, Poole, and Thompson is a four man team that the Warriors have a lot of flexible options around.
Green will have a nice happy reunion on Curry’s birthday, but I’m expecting a bit of rust. Regardless though, Warriors should be able to handle the team with the third worst Net Rating in the league.