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Oubre gets testy as struggling Warriors welcome the Hawks
This isn't the cliff that it feels like, but Golden State is on precipitous ground
The clock is ticking for the Golden State Warriors. Multiple clocks, really.
Stephen Curry, the patient, friendly face of the franchise is not getting any younger, Neither are Draymond Green and the currently injured Klay Thompson. Paired with the good but imperfect Andrew Wiggins: that’s 75% of the Warriors salary space.
Filling in the edges of a developed roster is easy when you are the presumptive title favorites, but increasingly hard, the further down the scale you slide. But with less options, taking the best you can get sometimes still leaves the end result a bit wanting.
The Warriors, currently looking up at the play-in tournament, rather than the 6th seed, find themselves wanting. Wanting to be better. Wanting to trade spare parts and unwanted contracts for difference-makers… but this is the NBA. There are no easy paths to success, and that path gets ever narrower the longer you stay on it.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (22-23) vs Atlanta Hawks (22-22)
WHEN: Friday, March 26, 2021 // 7:00 pm PST
WATCH: ESPN; NBCSBA
Say less - the awkward situation with Kelly Oubre
Kelly Oubre was the best available option when Klay Thompson went down just days before the draft. A little extra money for a young wing defender that can shoot? Perfect fit. And he comes with Bird Rights, so the cap-constrained Warriors can bring him back beyond this season? Even better.
But instead of clarity, Oubre’s time with the Warriors has only clouded the picture. Stepping into a starting role while coming off a season-ending knee surgery, Oubre struggled with his shot early, as well as the Warriors rotations and schemes. He’s a lot better at both, but the results are very much a mixed bag.
While he didn’t need to be Klay Thompson, Oubre’s offense has been straight up bad. Currently shooting 31% from deep, with a subpar .528 TS%, Oubre’s scoring efficiency is listed as being in the 27th percentile for his position.
He’s not only not shooting like Klay Thompson, he’s become one of the team’s least efficient scoring options. Actually, I take that back, he is shooting like Klay in one regard: Oubre’s 561 shot attempts make him the third most profligate shooter, behind only Curry and Wiggins.
Defensively, he’s relatively solid, but high risk. Something the Warriors’ have privately griped about because of the negative synergy between a high risk wing defender that struggles in switch coverages, and the Warriors shiny new project at center - one which just so happens to be bad defensively, as well as a foul magnet.
So there are some strategic concerns. A guy who was expected to either play his way clearly into or out of the Warriors future plans hasn’t done either of those things.
And so the Warriors clumsily and loudly dangled him at the trade deadline, hoping to pick up some sort of meaningful asset. It didn’t pan out, but as the only player on the team to be so roughly washed in the rumor machine, media was immediately looking for comments from Oubre. It didn’t go well.
To summarize, Oubre is asked if he’s prepared to come off the bench, or take a discount to return to the team. And let me tell you, friend/reader, there is no cool way to ask someone who was nearly traded if he’d like to:
a) Come off the bench after being a starter this season;
b) Intentionally take less money than he could, for the honor of doing so.
Oubre (rightly) replies that it’s a business, and is (also understandably) hoping to do more for a team than come off their bench. Just a tough scene all around. But maybe give a guy a chance to put the moving boxes away before asking him if he wants to get paid less next year?
Deeper problems abound, no easy solutions
Along that same thing, if you were looking for clarity, or even hope at the trade deadline, the Warriors gave neither. They only made two minor moves, both jettisoning unused roster spots and getting nothing but salary relief in return.
They also took a pretty rough loss. The Sacramento Kings walloped the Dubs, 139-117. For the Warriors, it was a story of bad defense. Playing without Draymond Green (illness), Golden State coughed up 139 very easy points to the Kings.
Curry remains out, for at least one more game beyond tonight, and at time of writing, there was no word on Green. The Warriors team did just get vaccinated, so it’s understandable if guys aren’t feeling up to a basketball game.
But even if Green returns and fixes the defense, the Warriors’ offense continues to tailspin. Yes, the stretch in question (previous 15 games) comes with a lot of tough opponents, but the Warriors’ lack of scoring punch is becoming a deep concern for this season.
The Warriors have lost eight of their last 11 games, and will now face a surging Hawks team (that interestingly also just lost to the Kings).
The Warriors aren’t hopeless, even without Curry. Last night, Andrew Wiggins showed up with 26 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, and Oubre and Nico Mannion each chipped in 19. Jordan Poole, continuing to look more and more assertive as one of the team’s scoring leaders, scored 17 points with five assists. Everyone’s favorite, Juan Toscano-Anderson looked as nice offensively as he ever has, scoring 15 points on a perfect 6 of 6 shooting.
But defensively? The team can’t be this poruous. Draymond Green fixes a lot, but the rest of this squad will need to become adequate defenders without him if the team ever hopes to not crumble as soon as the stars sit.
Something must be wrong with my crystals, as they were still inaccurate for last night’s outcome, despite recent calibration. But no, tonight is the night! I feel good about this one. Dubs win 112-109.
Draymond will play, the defense will awaken, and Wiseman will play angry. Let’s go!
Happy Friday everyone. It looks like a sunny, beautiful weekend, but I feel angsty. So here’s a protest song from one of the best current punk bands out there.