Warriors making it work
Porter questionable, but Payton, Curry, Thompson, Wiggins all will play against Kings
Sometimes, worrying about this team reminds me of my nervous mom telling me to be careful on my skateboard. I’m about to go intentionally ride this thing around and try to jump off a ramp me and my friends built. It’s risky! So too is what this franchise is doing. And the odds of it working out perfectly are way less than 100%.
But it is more than halfway through the season, and this team is pulling off cool kick flips.
The Golden State Warriors are riding high off their last win. But thankfully, the short handed squad that managed to pull off the upset in San Antonio is going to have a bit more help tonight when they pop into Sacramento for a quick visit with the Kings.
"Klay [Thompson] was held out just because it was a back-to-back, so he'll be fine tomorrow," Kerr added. "Steph [Curry], Otto [Porter Jr.] and [Andrew Wiggins] were all banged up but should be good to go tomorrow. I don't know about [Nemanja Bjelica], Beli is still day-to-day, he's had back spasms and they were still bothering him yesterday so we'll see."
Both Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala remain out (as well as James Wiseman). Gary Payton, who banged his shin hard enough to force him to limp out of the game and not return, appears to be clear, and poised to return.
The Sacramento Kings are coming in on the tail end of a back-to-back, but… well, let’s just say that optimism isn’t especially high in Sacramento these days, despite knocking off the Brooklyn Nets last night.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (39-13) at Sacramento Kings (18-34)
WHEN: Thursday, February 3rd, 2022 // 7pm PDT
Warriors keeping an eye on the future, in more ways than one
As Daniel Hardee pointed out yesterday, the Warriors’ “win now and develop for the future” plan is nearly unprecedented, but it seems to be looking viable here. The team racked up a ton of assists in that last game, and is somehow maintaining their status as the NBA’s stingiest defense. The Net Rating isn’t too shabby either:
It’s hard to know how much of this is sustainable over the long run, but that’s the thing where I’m reminded of my mom telling me to be safe on my skateboard. There’s an inherent risk involved here. One that cannot be avoided along this narrow path that the franchise is walking between eras. Can Kevon Looney's body hold up under these demands? Will Porter and Poole be solid in a playoff environment? This current model doesn’t need to answer those questions now - they can’t. It’s not time yet.
For now though, strap in.
That All Star break would put Green’s return out at least seven more games, and I wouldn’t be all that surprised to see Iguodala held out along the same timeline. Yes, injuries, but also, I believe that the team is squeezing in a combo of rest for the veterans, and development time for the rest of the roster.
This is a luxury afforded by the strong early push that the Warriors were able to make: some breathing room. A chance to shift some of the focus onto the rising parts of a team that hopes to contend for a championship this year.
Looking at Cleaning the Glass, the team’s on/off Net impact is showing signs of how well some of the ancillary pieces have fit.
This team has seen such balanced excellence that it’s sometimes hard to know what to focus on. The rebounding of Looney (who is in the 87th percentile for offensive rebounding rate, and 72nd for defensive) has been huge. But I also want to bring up something that has gone mostly unnoticed, I think: Jordan Poole’s improved playmaking.
Watch this play and ask yourself if this was something that would have happened even one season ago.
As the Warriors shuffle players in and out of the lineups, remember that kid on the skateboard. The balancing act these Warriors are trying to pull off is tricky, but if they can land this trick, it’s going to be one heck of a feat.
With both splash brother and Otto Porter back, the Warriors are approaching something reasonably near full strength — or at least the 80% version of what passes for fully healthy these days. The Kings are going to have their hands full.