Places everyone! Warriors final preseason game comes with elephants in the room
Green, Thompson return to starting lineup in final dress rehearsal ahead of Tuesday's season opener. Are we cool?
I know it tags me at a certain age, but I frequently flash back to Kermit the frog running around during one of those soft openings on the Muppet Show. “Places everyone! Curtain in five!” And all the characters are doing whatever shenanigans they may be doing. So too it goes with the Golden State Warriors. After a relatively uneventful offseason, it’s back to business as the Warriors set out to defend their championship crown in a chase to repeat again.
Everything is coming together behind the scenes. Draymond Green has returned to the fold after a tumultuous flash of anger during practice and a punch to the soon-to-be-paid-big-money Jordan Poole’s face. Klay Thompson has scrimmaged enough and both he and the coaching/medical staff agree that it’s time to get back on the court for real. For Dub Nation, it’s time for the big Kermit arm flail “yay!”
WHO: Golden State Warriors vs. Denver Nuggets
WHEN: Friday, October 14th, 2022 // 7pm PDT
WATCH: NBCSBA, ESPN
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Draymond Green’s return brings new tensions
There’s lot riding on this season for Draymond Green and the Warriors. Already on the crux of some sort of large scale changes due to salary cap impacts, there’s a rising scrutiny on Green’s next deal and the broader environment of Golden State’s salary cap. Both sides need each other right now. The Warriors already difficult path to a repeat would be significantly more difficult - if not impossible without Green. And Green, with a player option for next season may very well need to turn in a strong season this year if he hopes to land a lucrative deal down the line.
For now though? The press conference yesterday was definitely a bit tense.
Green reiterates that he is under contract with Golden State through next year - should he choose. That year would earn him around $27.5 million and is unlikely to be renegotiated- if his comments are any indication.
For now, Green will show up and play hard, but the looming questions surrounding his future with this team have only increased over the past few weeks. For a team aiming for a championship, these are the sort of edge concerns that cannot be allowed to come back and bite them down the road. Unfortunately, that’s still a question just a few days ahead of the season opener.
Ermahgerd, so many options!
Though Andre Iguodala is still on ice, the rest of the Warriors’ roster will be available to coach Steve Kerr tonight, and you can expect him to get creative. Of course, the stars will play limited minutes, but since this will be Kerr’s last “free” look at the lineup combinations before the outcomes of these games matters that rotations will likely be all over the place.
Jordan Poole and the rest of the starters will fall naturally into their old rhythms and rotations, but there are some intriguing new wrinkles this season. Klay Thompson will be limited in his comeback to somewhere around 15-18 minutes, per Kerr and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see similar limitations placed on Thompson for Tuesday’s season opener as well. Given this measured approach, and Kerr’s recalcitrance to burn vets like Iguodala a ton throughout the season, it means that there are some meaningful chunks of the team’s nightly rotation that are up for grabs.
These minutes aren’t available for no reason - some fan favorites were unfortunately cut ahead of today’s game; allowing both the players and the Warriors to chase more fecund possibilities in the waning moments of preseason (and no, it’s not likely that any legends of yore will be returning). Yesterday, Kerr spoke a bit on the decision, confirming DNHQ resident basketball expert, Sleepy Freud’s initial presumption that “it’s less about them not liking QSpoon or Qnones (or their fit) and more about then liking other guys more for the 2-way spot.”
So who are the players that are likely to see the biggest jump up in the rotation?
The most obvious answer - and one that the Warriors are extremely eager to see work out - will be the cadre of young guns. Moses Moody and James Wiseman have impressed in preseason. Though Jonathan Kuminga has been a bit more unsteady, his combination of scoring acumen and physical gifts will ensure that the Warriors prioritize his development this season. He was fantastic during certain stretches last season, and as much as people can expect a nice stable development arc from players, the reality is full of a lot more vicissitudes.
Still, between Poole, Moody, and the emergent Dante DiVincenzo (who seems to have an Iguodala-like steadying influence), it feels like the Warriors are more set at backup guard than they have been in a while (ok, maybe just since last season). And as Kerr mentioned above, this portion of the existing roster is one that Golden State is extremely comfortable with.
On the wings, there may still be some things to figure out, but whatever the exact order of operations, the Warriors are still pretty well set in this regard as well. Gary Payton II and Damion Lee were 7th and 8th, respectively in total minutes played last season, leaving a not-insignificant hole to fill this season. Some of those minutes will be consumed by a full season of shuffling the Poole/Thompson duo around, and of course, Andrew Wiggins is a lock to continue doing what he does.
The bigs are also feeling pretty well established, at least in regard to initial rotation preferences. With Wiseman backing up starter Kevon Looney, the lion’s share of responsibility for the position is covered. As with a lot of the positional “battles” it feels to me like the biggest questions are associated with who goes where, precisely, and much less about who can play. As the Warriors have demonstrated time and time again in recent memory, there are ample opportunities for fringe players to succeed around the edges of Kerr’s rotations.
These Denver Nuggets should be one of the best teams out West this season, so this will be a fun one! Personally, I’m mostly pumped for the return of Klay and the resumption of normalcy after a weird preseason.
Happy Friday DNHQ! I’ve been seeing a lot of great shows recently, and I know that we aren’t all punk rock fans here, but maybe The Dollyrots are for you. They sure seem to make good music to my ears (even if it’s a little softer / more bubblegum than my normal preference) - check ‘em out, maybe you’ll agree! They’re a rad husband and wife team with a sound kind of like Cyndi Lauper with a dash of Nirvana.