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Strength in Numbers Warriors vibe back with a vengeance
Warriors thankful for Wiggins and Kuminga, TWolves on their own path
The Golden State Warriors are one heck of a dichotomy. Sitting at second in the western conference, they’re looking rosy with Klay Thompson finally back on the court and coming in fresh of a rewarding win over a tough Dallas Mavericks team. But at the same time, it’s a tenuous grip for a team playing without key cog, Draymond Green for an indeterminant amount of time. Andre Iguodala is also on the shelf as well, and there’s no sign of James Wiseman’s availability.
But if anything, the missing branches of the tree have only worked to bring forth new growth. Jordan Poole is settling into his bench role, Kuminga has capitalized on his opportunities, and Stephen Curry is still positively impacting game despite a historic (for him) shooting slump.
This may not be going exactly to plan, but it’s working out.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (35-13) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (24-23)
WHEN: Thursday, January 27th, 2022 // 7:00pm PDT
WATCH: TNT: NBCSBA
Strength in numbers part 3 - the re-strengthening!
There’s an intransigence to coach Steve Kerr’s system. Unique among his NBA peers, the Warriors’ offensive scheme he’s constructed here relies on ball movement and an ethos that’s not for everyone. But the Warriors got a win the other night due in large part to Kerr’s basketball philosophy.
Ask yourself: what would a heavy pick and roll scheme look like when Curry goes cold from deep? Damion Lee, the oft-maligned bench player had 9 points on 5 shots - which doesn’t sound like much in a blowout win, but it’s just one more thing for defenses to worry about. Kerr ball looks the worst when actions like this happen, and the shot doesn’t go in.
There’s one aspect of basketball where Kerr’s not unique, and that’s micro-concerns from fans regarding the coach’s player rotations. Kuminga, who had quickly fallen out of the rotation after getting the nod as a starter during Green’s absence showed up in a big way. He led the team with 22 points off nine shots in less than 18 minutes. He led the team not only in scoring, but scoring efficiency, with 2.2 points per shot attempt per Synergy.
The Warriors roster construction has made some strategic compromises, but it’s also important to talk about the strategic strengths that this team draws out too.
In the DNHQ chat recently we were discussing what a value Kevon Looney’s contract is. Even free to hit the market, the NBA at large wasn’t interested and/or didn’t see his value, allowing the Warriors to bring him back on a team friendly deal.
They’ve done this for years with the backup point guard position, preferring to distribute the ball handling responsibilities to more dynamic players like Shaun Livingston, and now Jordan Poole.
It’s all an adjustment. Like Thompson finally settling in and letting the game come to him, Poole (and to a lesser extent Kuminga) have find a niche and fill it. Remember that when Darwin talked about “survival of the fittest” he was referring to ‘fit’ like a puzzle, not ‘fit’ like doing pushups.
Klay Thompson, the captain, weathering the storm
It’s been no secret that Thompson’s return has been tough. Eager to be back on the court, the other Splash Brother has been replicating his old volume real easy, but struggling with the accuracy.
Last game felt a little cathartic. Not just because of Thompson’s play on the court though, it seems like he’s settling into his new role here. Unlike Poole, it’s as the elder statesmen, but both have gone through an adjustment period and come out the far side of it better for the experience.
First there was this. An extended question, Thompson looking around at the crowd, seemingly listening attentively, until finally the reporter concludes their questioning with “what does this do for you guys?” The mic extends. And then… Klay.
So much of what really matters this season is still way up in the air. Will the team be healthy? Can they hold up at the center position against the league’s best in a playoff series?
But what’s unfolding in Golden State is promising. Sure, Kerr is still tinkering, health is (and will remain) a question, and players are working to find their spots — but this is what phase two is for: Klay wearing his captain hat in postgame interviews.
I really like the new look Timberwolves, and Anthony Edwards is an absolute terror (in all the best ways), but the Warriors can beat this team. Will Curry text Wiggins a picture of that power dunk? Can Karl Anthony-Towns dominate without Green there to slow him?
My prediction is that none of it matters if the Warriors play their game. Like a golfer, Golden State is just trying to be their best and will worry about the results later.