New year, new me!
With a roster defined by their three core players, you wouldn’t expect a ton of roster stability from the Golden State Warriors - and yet the major teardown and rebuild we’ve seen over the past week was still a bit jarring. D’Angelo Russell was never a great fit, playing the same position as Steph Curry, but the common consensus was that he was a highly valued player that the team wanted to take a good look at. Apparently they saw enough, because they flipped him in a surprise move that returned Andrew Wiggins and a very nice 1st-round draft pick (plus an additional second-rounder) while also taking Jacob Evans off the ledger next season.
It was a move mostly driven by the team’s desire to save money by avoiding the repeater tax, something that General Manager Bob Myers said could have cost the team as much as “the high $200 millions” per year. Regardless of motivation, it leaves a decidedly different roster rising from the ashes as they welcome the Los Angeles Lakers to San Francisco today.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (12-40) vs Los Angeles Lakers (38-12)
WHERE: Chase Center, San Francisco, CA
WHEN: Saturday February 8, 2020; 5:30 pm
WATCH: NBC Sports Bay Area
The biggest storyline heading into the game tonight is Andrew Wiggins. General Manager Bob Myers spoke extensively on Friday about the trade deadline flurry of activities, and what it means moving forward. Though none of the players traded were exactly mainstays - Jacob Evans, drafted just one year ago was the elder Warriors statesman of the departing group - the breadth and depth of the changes are remarkable.
The Warriors have begun to fill in some of the gaps in reasoning that had fans scrambling for clarity as the news broke that the big D’Angelo Russell trade we’d been told to expect brought back nothing more than Andrew Wiggins and a couple of draft picks.
For one, the taxes next season would have cost the team hundreds of millions of dollars; an amount hefty enough to make the team balk, especially in light of the Warriors place at the bottom of the standings and looking to spend profligately next offseason.
Secondly, there is a positional need for a small forward.
If they had retained Russell, it would have pushed Klay Thompson to the small forward position - not ideal for a guy returning from a knee surgery - which would wreck the backcourt Splash Brothers pairing. And it was becoming clear that Russell’s defense was going to be a real problem, compounded by the inability to hide him now that the other guard who would step up to guard Russell’s man would have to be Curry. Thompson could perhaps shuffle down, but that would shift Curry or Russell to cover the opposing small forward. A cascading stream of bad defensive options.
So, enter Andrew Wiggins.
A solid 6’8” wing player with a seven foot wingspan, he’s just 24 years old and comes with all the physical tools needed to fill the gap at small forward. But the Warriors are going to need to help him adjust his game to the Warriors system. Just fitting in with the roster construction better doesn’t necessarily mean the team will be better off with Wiggins rather than Russell.
So what does Wiggins offer, besides a huge wingspan and a heft salary?
Before answering that, it’s important to understand his strengths and weakness. First off, from this excellent round table The Athletic put out, take a look at Wiggins shooting profile as compared to recently departed Russell. You can see that Wiggins has a much more “vanilla” game - he isn’t particularly dynamic with his shot type diversity, nor is he above average efficiency on catch-and-shoots, or off the dribble.
But the article goes on to point out that Wiggins has improved this year, landing in the 64th percentile according to Synergy on catch-and-shoot shots. This is going to be a large portion of the Warriors strategy to improve Wiggins impact: simplify.
Here’s coach Kerr, talking about how embracing a reduced role can actually work to a player’s advantage:
"There's a difference in the role that we're gonna ask him to play, too," Kerr said. "Minnesota needed him to be a star. And we're not asking him to be a star. We're asking him to play a role on a team that already has some star players. There's a huge difference there."When you have to play that role, it means bringing energy every night more than it means putting up numbers. He's very capable of giving us numbers, but what we need is energy and the commitment defensively and sprinting the floor."
"There's a difference in the role that we're gonna ask him to play, too," Kerr said. "Minnesota needed him to be a star. And we're not asking him to be a star. We're asking him to play a role on a team that already has some star players. There's a huge difference there.
"When you have to play that role, it means bringing energy every night more than it means putting up numbers. He's very capable of giving us numbers, but what we need is energy and the commitment defensively and sprinting the floor."
Offensively, he should be fine. It’s not unreasonable to expect more efficiency in this system, where ball movement and looking for “great, not good” shots is a point of emphasis.
Defensively it will be a work in progress. Wiggins shows very poorly in the defensive metrics - but those things are notoriously unreliable anyways. The bottom line here is that the team just needs Wiggins to embrace the defensive philosophy and play hard every night; the coaches and team will help facilitate all of this, of course:
Back to that round table from the Athletic, it’s important to note that especially with the defensive impact numbers, context, and teammates are both extremely important aspects that must be considered:
In Wiggins’ minutes with Towns, the Wolves have a disaster-level 115.2 defensive rating. In the minutes Wiggins plays without Towns, though, they have a 107.4 defensive rating. Basically, in Minnesota’s non-Towns minutes, they’ve fielded a top-10 defense that Wiggins is a part of. He’s not the player on that end that some thought he’d be coming out of Kansas due to his length and athleticism, but I don’t really think he’s a true negative anymore, either.
Not much more to say about this…
As the Warriors have formally embraced the tank, I expect them to find more reasons to rest Draymond Green. As valuable as he is to the development of these young players, and serving as the only other link to the old guard besides Looney, there is probably a rationale for ensuring a certain level of institutional inertia by keeping him on the court.
As Golden State’s best defender, the team could certainly use his presence against LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the big man tandem of Javale McGee and Dwight Howard - but if Green is in any way hampered, expect him to sit for the tank, and his own well being.
Like the Warriors of yore (ok, it was just last season, but it feels like a lifetime ago), the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t really playing for the regular season. So while they sit perched atop the standings like that sticker Dwight Howard slapped on the backboard that one time this isn’t what they’re playing for. Oh sure, they smoke the Warriors - a team held together by duct tape and minimum salary contract players - but Los Angeles is playing for a price that isn’t available for a few months yet: an NBA championship.
The Lakers are elite, there’s no doubt about that, they’re top 5 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and have two of the best players in the league: LeBron James and Anthony Davis. But behind that, it gets a little thin on raw talent. Kentavius Caldwell-Pope, Danny Green, and Kyle Kuzma are next in minutes played - all around 25 per game, none of whom can be counted to take over a game if one of the superstars are struggling.
So the Lakers had been looking to add something.
In the end, the Lakers ended up standing pat and will head into the Playoffs with the roster they have - barring someone like Darren Collison emerging from retirement.
The problem of course, is what happens when LeBron James leaves the floor. As is often the case with his teams, it’s those minutes that can decide wins or losses, depending on how badly his supporting cast slides.
Much like the Warriors of the past five years, any help would just be a luxury; a tertiary insurance policy against those rare nights when the superstar is having a bad night. The addition of Iguodala would have come in handy for the playoffs, but make no mistake, the Lakers are doing absolutely fine right now with the roster they have.
From Cleaning the Glass, just take a gander at the impact of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Not only are both players using the majority of possessions, controlling the ball for a combined 63% of the offense while on court, they are a monument to unselfish basketball. Looking at those assist percentage numbers you can see that not only does LeBron run the offense, he is the very best in the league at taking that resultant defensive attention and reverse judo throwing it into an advantage by assisting on nearly half of his teammates shots.
They say a team can only get as far as their best players take them, and for the Lakers, it’s probably pretty easy to look past the fringe roster issues.
Oh, the Warriors are getting demolished this game. It’s been just a few days since the team jettisoned almost half it’s roster, which included the top two players in both minutes played, and total points. There will be more Warriors players that spend last week in the G league than not, sitting on our bench.
Still, it will be fun to see the new squad. I haven’t watched Wiggins play very closely so will be eagerly watching and hoping he plays. Same goes for Bowman and Smiley, two players that I’ve desperately been wishing were up with the NBA team. So as brutal as this game may well be, it should still be a fun one.
But I do predict a successful tank mission, which is what the Warriors are really playing for right now.
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I’m excited to watch Dre bring the ball up on the break with Klay and Steph running to the 3 point line and Wiggins and Marquises running the floor Just imagine!!!
I’ve opened up a new thread for you to lose your chronological order.
All the complaining about Wiggins - I rather watch him play even half of how he played today than watch DLo score 50. DLo plays slow, his 3 ptrs take forever to get to the hoop, those bumper car plays are irritating.
Kerr is right - Wiggins is way better fit on this team than DLo.
I could see Wiggins a great fit for the Warriors. Who lack of a slasher type of player! DLO’s game are too slow for Warriors run and gun offense. But I gonna missed his microwave type of shots! Thank God we got Curry!
2: Wiggins, Poole
3: Norvell Jr.
Only 5 pts !
Not a bad game by Wiggins and the Santa Cruz Warriors.
Sorry if it offends but the Warriors need every loss they can get before Curry gets back so the close L is the best case scenario.
wwe just got lefuck you 3'd
good job, good effort (not sarcastic, actually enjoyed the game quite a bit)
LBJ smart foul this late, given Wiggins being a mediocre foul shooter.
Jettisoned half the team, still the same old close game until they can't close it in the clutch team.
Poole hitting shots out there.
I know we've got a pretty long to do list for this platform. For me I can live with everything else but I wish there was a way we can sort original comments in reverse chronological. Easy for me to just click on sub comments from there on the game day thread
Poole impersonation of DLO
Too much to ask this SCW lineup to close the gap.
Norvell is better than Poole
LET SMILEY DUNK
FGs and FTs:
Lakers: 33/65, 11/22 threes, 19/26 FTs
Warriors: 33/69, 10/25 threes, 8/12 FTs
Wiggins looks pretty good so far.
142-115 TWolves haha
that was very sloppy oof
i want someone to make their shots
Damion Lee is a 3rd string SG at best.
Now this is more the score I expected at this point in the game.
That 1 on 1 Wiggins play was my first "noooooo..." of the Wiggins era. I expect there to be many more.
Every time Mark Jackson talks about LeBron he should have to disclose he is represented by Klutch
Warriors at half vs. LAL:
Dubs are allowing the Lakers to shoot 55 percent from the field and 57.1 percent on 3s. Not a good defensive effort, but they're keeping it close somehow because of the Lakers' 12 turnovers.
Wiggins got zero rebounds that half, before anyone gets too optimistic
I guess Wiggins can work on this offense! The guy knows how to cut and slash!
This is probably the most fun I’ve had watching a half that the Warriors lost by 7.
I’m going to miss the second half, where I expect it all to go downhill, but someone please alert me every time Wiggins scores on a cut or posts up, please?
55% shooting (22/40 FGs)
23 rebounds (5 off.)
46.9% shooting (23/49 FGs)
7/18 three pointers
18 rebounds (4 off.)
Time for my homer glasses, but Wiggins has looked fine.
Obviously not $30m a year good, but I'm already envisioning some plays he can make when Curry, Klay, and Green are all back.
if wiggins plays exactly like this going forward, as in giving effort on defense and trying to fit in rather than iso on offense, then i'll be more than ok with him on the team
This team doesn't look demonstrably worse than our last iteration
How is a foul on Chriss when Davis went over the top of him?
Lakers 8-13 from 3, Warriors are 6-17...
Bowman moves the ball much better than Russell imo
That was soft as hell from Chriss, one of the main concerns about him
Despite the lostness, Zach is playing within himself and has canned two open threes, which is a really really Then he gets a hustle steal, and then gets MJax complaining about him on a drawn foul, so basically, ZACH IS NOW OFFICIALLY A SPLASH RELATIVE
We need Bowman offense without Burkes. Where is the scoring coming?
Nice trey from Wiggins; glad the jet lag isn’t too bad.
Does Wiggins ever smile? May be that (joy) is what is missing. But then, he just landed ..
Wolves destroying the Clippers w/o Russell
Poole only 3’s are taken away... BS rule
Looney looks like a guy that has not played much this season. A lot of reaching on defense.
That Norvell stroke just looks nicer to me than Poole's
OMFG Smiley with Oscar-winning fake call for a dribble pitch, then surprise pivot into a big dunk. Who knew Smiley was such a hot dog
Okay, it’s interesting to see how completely lost Norville is in the system. I mean, of course, he’s new. But the other SC Warriors have been running the same system as GSW, so they aren’t lost. ZN is not seeing open cuts and is cutting open and not getting seen. Time should fix this.
Norvell still look lost but he is a rookie so pass
First Quarter Notes
Well, this is a season of moral victories and I’m going to take being up 8-6 vs LAL, with GSW running out the post-meteor extinction young mammals plus Wiggins who has only had time to find his locker and eat ten steaks immediately on Kerr’s orders.
YOOOO Ky Bowman got hassled disrespectfully by Avery, shook him with a behind the back dribble into an alley-oop Chriss smash
YOOOOO Wiggins hit the open corner 3!! My expectations are so low that the most basic NBA plays are getting me pumped
Jesus, this is literally Looney and the Santa Cruz Warriors. And the Sea-Dubs are absolutely hanging with the Lakers, who look a bit like The Boulder conflicted about fighting a small child before getting his butt whooped by the Blind Bandit
Hahahahaha Smiley going for the Jordan FT dunk and falling about three feet short, but ABSOLUTELY YELLED OUT WITH JOY at the guts
Followed immediately by stuffing Kuzma on a dunk. Smiley definitely on track to being a cult hero
Where’s the foul on Howard?