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Preview: It's Strength in Numbers (again) - loaded Warriors host Nuggets
Thompson, Green still on minutes limitation, but that should ease up "in the next couple weeks" per coach Steve Kerr
When the Golden State Warriors first debuted their Strength in Numbers slogan, it was accurate. There have been a few intervening years where they kept leaning on it, but the reality had perhaps drifted away a bit for a season or two here and there. While Golden State is still mostly defined by what goes on at the top of their depth chart, we are back full circle to a meaningful amount of help coming from outside their top three or four players.
In the opening game of the season, the Warriors didn’t just dismantle the Los Angeles Lakers - they did so while running out two of their key players on minutes limitations (Draymond Green played 25 minutes, Klay Thompson just 20). In a game that Daniel Hardee rightly described as quickly devolving into “how much fight will the Lakers show in garbage time” Golden State laid their depth bare for all to see. Even if this team isn’t “chasing wins” the development and chemistry building is certainly a hugely important aspect to how this squad will define success this season.
Up tonight, one of the Western Conference teams that should be there in the playoffs: the Denver Nuggets.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (1-0) vs. Denver Nuggets (0-0)
WHEN: Friday, October 21st, 2022 // 7pm PDT
WATCH: NBCSBA, ESPN
Deep like a submarine - a look at all the options on this roster
It’s so trite that it’s become cliche, but this could very well be one of the deepest Warriors teams yet. The top end talent still serves as the engine that will take this team far, but coach Steve Kerr has been handed a lot of viable options, from Nitro Jordan Poole off the bench to a bunch of switchable parts that can adapt to all sorts of needs.
Sure, we are only one game deep into the season, but even the smallest of sample sizes can tell you something about the base state. Again, part of the strength (in numbers) of this roster is how adaptable it is. A night after taking on the extremely predictable and not-so-dangerous Lakers, the Warriors are back for another game against a fairly predictable team - but this Nuggets team is a much more legitimate threat.
For ball handlers, the Warriors are set. Curry as the starter with Poole coming off the bench and playing starter minutes covers the bulk of the assignment. Against the Lakers in the first game of the season, Curry played 33 minutes, Poole 28. I know I’m biased, but I cannot think of a better 1-2 combo in the league. That’s a nice luxury for a team that has often been defined by how well they can survive the minutes without Curry.
Dante DiVincenzo is the understudy. Solid enough to not cough up the lead, his combination of safe and sane passes and a shockingly stout and heady defense will ensure that he’s a mainstay in Kerr’s rotation.
DiVincenzo is a veteran that can be trusted, which is bad news for Moses Moody. Ahead of the first game, Kerr mentioned that he was going to go 10 or 11 deep, citing the value of Moody in particular in regards to that 11th spot. It would be a conflict on many other teams, but here it’s just another indication of how deep this roster goes. Remember that the Warriors aren’t necessarily aiming for regular season success. Last year they seemed happy with the 3rd seed - and you can’t complain about the results! This season is for exploration and development. Golden State knows what they have at the top of their roster and will lean on it as needed, but in the meantime, expect a lot of roster shuffling throughout the season. In a good way.
In a similar way, the Bigs are equally covered. With Kevon Looney cemented in as the reliable starter, Draymond Green available when it’s called for, and the developing James Wiseman showing more and more each game, the center position is about as well set as any time in recent memory. There’s a ton of pressure building here. Draymond Green has shot himself in the foot by punching the widely loved Poole in the face, and between Wiseman’s looming next contract and Green’s uncertain future here, there’s a lot to figure out… but those are all problems for later. For this game, and the season in general, the center rotation is pretty rosy (unless you have zero confidence in Wiseman). On top of all that, Jymchal Green is around to run out as a hybrid 4/5 - which seems to be working out pretty well so far.
Finally, the wings. Soooooo many options. Kerr must feel like my kids when I take them to the over-priced - but extremely well stocked - candy shop at the Emeryville mall before going to the movies.
Andrew Wiggins gets the start. He’s earned so much cred that it feels like another lifetime ago that I was getting mercilessly mocked for daring to think that swapping Kevin Durant out for Wiggins was a big deal. The truth is that Wiggins has landed here and found a home in a way that Durant never did.
Wing is probably the deepest position for Golden State - which makes a whole lot of sense given the direction of the league. Behind Wiggins and Thompson, Kerr has a plethora1 of options. Thompson is still on a minutes limitation (he played just 20 in the season opener), followed by Kuminga for 12 minutes, and Moody with 6 (mostly garbage time) minutes. Moody was one of the more promising young players on this roster last season, and I expect him to apply a lot of pressure as his play earns him more looks. With Iguodala still out, it's mostly DeVincenzo that is ahead of Moody right now, but with injuries, matchups, and rest involved, it's safe to expect this situation to be in flux all season - especially so till the rotations settle in.
The Denver Nuggets will challenge the Warriors in ways that the Lakers couldn’t, but for this Warriors team, the sky’s the limit. If they play up to their best potential, I’m not taking anyone over this squad in a seven game series. And that should matter more than any single random regular season game. But still, hopefully they win them all anyways.
82-0 is still on the table!
It’s my last weekday of blissful unemployment before I start my new day job on Monday, so when this article goes live, I’ll be on my way to SF to play a round of golf with some buddies. Last night though? Well that was for mosh pits. For those who care, this is definitely punk rock. Saw these old heads in Berkeley last night, and as a hippy (former hippy? the lines are all blurry at this point), I approve of this song. Please enjoy your Friday!
Too punk? Too much hardcore?
Here ya go, have a mental palate cleanser.
Reminds me of a joke: At a funeral, after the service is nearly completed, the priest opens it up to the crowd. “If anyone has any words to share, now would be the time.”
The man’s best friend thinks on it for just a split second before standing up. They pass the mic over to him and he takes a look around the room, sighs deeply and says, “Plethora.” Passing the mic back with a nod, he sits down. The widow reaches over and squeezes his shoulder. “Thanks,” she says. “That means a lot.”