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No Wiggins, Green Questionable as Golden State embarks on big road trip
Giannis and the Bucks are always a useful measuring stick, but it sure would have been nice to be closer to full strength
The Golden State Warriors are hitting the road for a huge road trip that will keep them sleeping in hotel rooms through the Christmas holiday. Unfortunately, there are some new problems to navigate, with both Andrew Wiggins (out) and Draymond Green (Questionable) a little bit banged up.
Tonight’s opponent is the Milwaukee Bucks, one of the perennial contenders in the East - largely because of Giannis Sina Ugo Antetokounmpo. If Draymond Green can’t go, it’s a bad sign for the Warriors defense in general, and for the bench unit in particular. Moving Green’s rotation around to stabilize the bench defense has been a huge component of the recent improvements seen in Golden State.
WHO: Golden State Warriors at Milwaukee Bucks
WHEN: Tuesday December 13th, 2022 // 4:30pm PDT
WATCH: TNT, NBCSBA
Oof, no Wiggins, maybe no Draymond?
One of the issues with the Warriors current philosophy is that the viability of this roster is resting mostly in the hands of a few key players. The NBA is already somewhat top heavy, with the best players largely defining which teams are good or not. Even within that landscape, the Warriors stand out because they have a Big Four instead of a Big Three. Missing two of those four hurts. A lot.
It’s a little bit oversimplified, but also just straight statistics so I would like to present the team’s on/off statistics. These are from Cleaning the Glass, so it excludes garbage time, but the pattern of which players the team are better off with is pretty stark. These are total minutes this season, the colored cells show percentile rank, and the far right value shows net score difference per 100 possessions.
But we don’t dwell. We move forward.
That’s going to be a lot of minutes that are suddenly available. With Wiggins extended absence, Golden State has found a friend in Jonathan Kuminga but it’s more than fair to wonder if there’s another success story like that buried in the roster still.
Draymond Green’s availability is probably the #1 key for tonight’s game. The Warriors just don’t have a good replacement for what he does. Weirdly, his game is super limited in some ways, but also extremely accommodating. There’s a strange statistical anomaly this season when looking at the trio of Green, Curry, and Wiggins. Without a doubt the team’s three best and most important players so far this season, these are the guys that coach Steve Kerr and the rest of the Warriors planning committee have been slapping on all sorts of problematic lineup combos.
Here’s a meme I made about it.
Anyways, the weird thing is that when one of these three plays without the other two, only Green manages to lift the lineups into positive net territory. Maximum stat nerd warning here. There have been a lot of really weird lineup combinations throughout this season and all three of these guys have been deployed in all sorts of ways. Wiggins initial “struggles” carrying the early bench units should be taken with a grain of salt considering that a few of those same bench players are now in the G League - still though, it’s eyebrow-raising to see that Green is the only one with a positive net lineup impact without the other two.
It’s also interesting to note that this is a back-to-back roadie here. After the Bucks, Golden State will be in Indiana to take on the Pacers on Wednesday.
If Green can go or not, one player to watch will be Kuminga. He’s really begun to emerge as the success story from the first third of the season, and this development has just so happened to nicely coincide with his opportunity to fill a void in the rotation.
Speaking of filling voids, like good art, reading the negative space around the official roster moves this season is an interesting exercise. With Green a maybe and Wiggins all the way out, there’s a gap in the frontcourt rotation. Kuminga can cover a bit for both of them, but not at the same exact time, it feels more than a little surprising to me that Wiseman wasn’t also called up to the team - just in case.
Objective evidence will only get you so far. If previous statistics were perfectly predictive, lotteries would be easy to win. Even short handed, I like the chances of any team that trots out Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Dubs are going to start turning that road record around with an unlikely victory!