Martyr ball? Curry's heroics may force Golden State's hand
Preview: Warriors need some wins with Knicks, Rockets over the weekend
I know Twitter is going down in flames right now, so I find myself preemptively missing it. I love the connection to direct access it grants us all; and the silly little jokes that people get off on there bring tremendous joy to me. One tweet that I can’t stop thinking about is this clever turn of phrase - it’s not exactly hero ball but whatever you call what Stephen Curry has been doing on the basketball court this season has been phenomenal. The fact that it feels like not enough is a blistering indictment on everyone else around him.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (6-9) vs. New York Knicks (8-7)
WHEN: Friday November 18th, 2022 // 7pm PDT
WATCH: NBCSBA, ESPN, ESPN2(?)
Blog Buddy: The Strick.land
Injury update: Kuminga will be out again with a non-Covid illness, James Wiseman remains in the G League, and Andre Iguodala is out still (old)
The Golden State Warriors’ front office has been talking loudly since they acquired the team. They talked the talk, but then also followed it up by walking the talk. Multiple banners have been raised. The team truly has been light years ahead of the competition. Potential contenders like the Clippers, Rockets, and whatever team Lebron James is on have all fell off while the Warriors dynasty won, thrived with Kevin Durant, and then thrived again.
Now, amongst the many plans, Stephen Curry’s simple agenda has emerged to prominence this season: dude just wants to win; and he’s good enough to almost pull it off on his own. While the second timeline wilts under the bright lights, Curry has thrown himself on his own sword. The time for winning is now, the timeline that matters is only about Curry’s career.
For those of use that have been around for a long time (and those that maybe came later to the party) there’s really no acceptable excuse for not maximizing this guy’s chance of winning. None.
It’s crazy to think about Curry as the greatest offensive player to ever lace them up in the NBA, but that’s the reality. Coming fresh off of a championship that hardly anyone foresaw, the Warriors decision makers decided to jettison the bench. And why not? Damion Lee, Otto Porter, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Gary Payton II and even Nemanja Bjelica were useful players last season but each of those names came in as veterans. All told, they combined to play around six thousand minutes last season - about 30% of the total minutes available last year (19,730).
Gone in a single offseason with the idea that this core can carry the next phase. Well, now it’s time to seriously consider what to do if that stopgap measure isn’t enough. If the talent bleed was too severe, the timelines too far out of alignment. Sticking with the youth movement might not matter if the whole machine flames out before they develop.
In the place of those veterans, the organization has installed a patchwork quilt of minimum salary players and developmental project guys. One by one, it’s hard to find fault with the approach, but taken as a whole, the net impact is sadly lackluster - especially when viewed against the backdrop of these early season Curry fireworks. The losses that are piling up have even the staunchest mouthpiece of the front office calling for a reassessment of the plan.
I root for everyone.1 And I choose to believe, as a general rule. There have been plenty of flashes. From Kuminga, to Moody, and even Wiseman there have been those occasional "what if?" glimpses of young, promising players on the rise. Maybe if Klay Thompson had spent his offseason honing his game instead of his soul. Or maybe if Poole hadn't come out as cold as he has been. Or (and this one is the under-discussed issue, in my opinion) what if Draymond Green didn't sock his young, well-liked teammate in the face for no reason.
But it’s not different. The timeline talk was fun and all but no one is laughing watching Curry put up 50 in a loss while also leading the team in rebounds. I don’t know where the help comes from but it’s heartbreaking watching Curry carry so much.
Like the principle of a thousand cuts, there’s a creeping normality to this changed roster configuration. Curry is still at something that looks a whole lot like his peak, and yet this roster construction is half rebuild. It doesn’t sit well with me, or with a lot of the fan base. Hell, even the front office can’t have much more patience for this, can they?
If the Warriors are going to implement a major change, they have a couple of different options. A minor change could involve retooling the bench. Using some draft picks and a young talented player like Kuminga or Moody could definitely bring in a more useful rotation piece. Another marginal move option would be to send Klay Thompson to the bench, which would allow Poole to play alongside Curry and the starters. Finally, there’s a major roster explosion - the proverbial “blow it up” makes a lot of sense if the math really does come down to Curry and whatever. This is something that Kerr alluded to recently: the core is running out of time one way or another.
Again, maybe this all feels different if the main guys are all hitting. But they aren’t. Tacked on against that punchy preseason, and a bunch of young guys fighting for their careers while the veterans try to get theirs and you have a recipe for disaster. A disaster that feels all too familiar.
There’s a change coming. Either the Warriors figure it out and play better, or the front office is going to have to make some tough choices. One thing is for sure: Curry is the real deal, and you cannot squander this season.
Music Friday Prediction
Of course I think the Warriors will win. You cannot watch Curry do everything and not help the man. With the Knicks and Rockets this weekend, the Warriors have a legitimate chance to change everything…. well maybe not everything, but a couple of wins would go a long way right now. Curry demands a win or two, so it’s going to happen!
For my music on this auspicious Friday, I’ve got to tell you that I won’t be watching this game tonight (and no post game thread) because I’ve got to go see the Flaming Lips. Let’s go!!!
Except for Chris Paul. I don’t root for that jerk.