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Poole fits in alongside Splash Brothers as Warriors explore roster combos
One more game to go until Draymond Green returns? Can it be real?
The Golden State Warriors were slipping. After quickly handing the #2 seed to the streaking Memphis Grizzlies, the Warriors have righted the ship and are back within a half game of second in the crowded Western Conference. Though the highly anticipated return of Draymond Green hasn’t yet arrived, the news seems to have enlivened a moribund Warriors team. As Coach Steve Kerr quipped yesterday, winning cures everything!
This could be the final game that the team has to play without Green this season, with his resumption of set to resume on Monday against the Orlando Magic — will the team end it on a high note, or limp across the gap?
No major changes on the injury front for Golden State, but hopefully next time we meet for a game preview, there will be some big news in this space!
WHO: Golden State Warriors (45-22) vs Milwaukee Bucks (42-25)
WHEN: Saturday March 12th, 2022 // 5:30pm PDT
I love it when a plan comes together: envisioning a new Warriors “A Team”
In basketball, like life, there’s so much uncertainty that it can often feel like a silly waste of time to plan too far ahead. And yet, we plan. Tiny organisms sitting on a tiny blue ball whizzing through space.
For the Warriors, the current state has been a long time coming. And though many pressures to win now, and branching front office decisions have come and gone, the Warriors have mostly stuck with their plan: keep the core, get some young, athletic players to bridge the gap, and hope it all comes together in time for the post season. Even as recently as a week or two ago, it wasn’t exactly clear what role Jordan Poole would play.
The return of Klay Thompson knocked Poole out of his comfort zone, sending him to the bench alongside a whole new cadre of personnel. But the adjustment that needed to happen has seemingly happened now:
While not all of the gambles have worked, enough of them have to set up the final push into a postseason that feels full of promise. The trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Jordan Poole have emerged. Which leads to the question of who should slot in alongside them in the closing lineups.
Draymond Green’s name can be written in there with a sharpie marker. His defensive mastery and offensive facilitation have been sorely missed and it’s no secret that he’s at the epicenter of the Warriors post season chances.
In the Warriors’ last win over the Nuggets, it was Looney and Wiggins in alongside the Splash Trio — a lineup that went +9 over the final five minutes or so of game time.
But the cool thing about the guard trio with Green is that the final spot offers a lot of versatile options. Rookie Jonathan Kuminga could certainly be an intriguing option here, especially if you consider his efficiency (his .610 TS% puts him slightly ahead of Curry) and ability to get to the foul line (where he averages nearly a free throw for every two shots he takes).
When Green returns to the lineup, this new closing lineup question will be one of the first to start fiddling with. The team has plenty of flexible options, just like they planned all along.
Ideally, either Wiggins or Iguodala will step into that fifth open spot in this killer lineup, but there are a couple of concerns that point towards the wisdom of having a plan B. First, Iguodala’s health is unknown. There’s no doubt that the team is “saving him up” for the playoffs, but behind that priority is a lingering concern about how long he can last. The value of any weapon lies in it being there when you need it, and if Iguodala simply can’t go, then the Warriors will accept it and move on.
Secondly, Wiggins is in a slump right now. It’s been well documented in other places but we haven’t paid it much mind around DNHQ because he’s been so solid all season, and the return of Green is imminent. But even so, Wiggins is on a Biedrins-esque spiral at the free throw line.
It’s not something to sniff at, but as the playoffs approach and Green returns, these are the sorts of little edge concerns that can influence decisions about who goes in with the game on the line. So whether Wiggins figures it out or not will definitely go into the equation that the coaching staff looks at.
Right now, the Warriors have some time to figure all these little details out, but the playoffs are almost here, and expect Green’s return to serve as a natural consolidation point.
Checking in on the Bucks
The NBA champs are a strong team, and are going to prove a challenge for the Warriors in tonight’s nationally televised prime time battle. They’ve won six in a row coming into the game, and Giannis Antetokounmpo recently took over as the league’s scoring leader after hanging 43 points on the Atlanta Hawks.
Kevon Looney has shattered expectations this season, but Antetokounmpo is precisely the type of player that they hope James Wiseman can grow into stopping in a few years. Right now? Against this iteration of the Warriors? I expect to see a lot of this from one of the NBA’s best offensive teams this season.
If the Bucks have a weakness, it’s their defense. Golden State needs to get out there and cause a whole bunch of chaos.