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Throwback Warriors in all the wrong ways: Can Golden State adjust?
Warriors have been winless away from home, time to start pressing buttons
It may not be time to press the panic button, but I guarantee that the Golden State Warriors and coach Steve Kerr are taking a button inventory right now. A disappointing early start to the season doesn’t mean catastrophe, but the Warriors are running out of silver linings to point to as the struggles continue.
The first order of business is to win a simple road game. After dropping two straight, the Warriors are hoping for better results tonight against the Miami Heat.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (3-4) at Miami Heat (2-5)
WHEN: Tuesday, November 1st, 2022 // 4:30pm PDT
Beyond “a few things to figure out”
Looking at the statistics for this Warriors squad is a walk down memory lane. Like it was for most of my memory, this Golden State team can’t defend (ranked 23rd) or efficiently score (ranked 19th), and the end result end up showing as a sub-.500 team with a negative net rating. The Warriors net impact of -3.9 points per 100 possessions has them just behind the Sacramento Kings, and just a bit better than the Los Angeles Lakers. This team is giving up an average of 122 points per game. No good. That’s exactly how you lose games despite averaging the second-most points.
At first, the starters were holding it down, and it looked like the team was simply waiting for on of the edge rotation players to work his way into a more standout role. But now, it looks like Stephen Curry is the only one consistently standing out in a good way.
Steph used to have irrational confidence," Green said. "He doesn’t quite have irrational confidence anymore. He has an earned confidence that we all know and expect …
Klay Thompson is another one of those guys with earned confidence, but his game seems to toe the line between irrational confidence as he continues to work his way back from injury. With Thompson, the expectation that he will figure it out still remains, but the impact of his rough shooting efficiency is hard to deny. Due to his minutes limitation, Thompson is “only” 6th on the team in minutes per game but he shoots often enough to rank fourth in field goal attempts.
I use Thompson as an example, but the truth is that there is plenty of blame to go around. Wiggins, Moody, and Kuminga all join Thompson down on the wrong end of the shooting efficiency chart.
Thankfully, it does still hold true that the Warriors starting unit is solid. They’ve been outscoring opponents to the tune of +45 in the 81 minutes they’ve been on the court together. That’s great, but it’s only a start. And more importantly, this is not the time of season that the Warriors are going to be riding their main guys extra heavy minutes.
As Kerr continues to tinker with lineup combinations, he’s been finding a lot of what doesn’t work. Sure, many of these are short stints, but you have to scroll down shockingly far to find the next unit that has a positive net impact. For those wondering, it’s the Poole for Thompson sub.
Every season, the Warriors front office plays contractual Russian Roulette with the end of their bench, but this offseason was one of the more drastic changes in recent years - and it’s been showing. The departure of Otto Porter and Gary Payton II were going to hurt, everyone knew that. But the hoped-for development of the next cadre of super bench subs hasn’t been there for Golden State.
The problem now is that the Warriors find themselves in a position they did not want to be in. The early slides have been frequent enough to warrant concern. Golden State would like to prioritize development, but unlike last year, because of the bench changes they may actually need player development. This was always going to be one of the trickier seasons for the two timeline plan. And so far this season, it has been way too many tricks, not enough treats.
(holiday season tie-in reference! I’m sorry/not sorry)
Warriors take the extensions
As expected, the Warriors took the clerical step of picking up the rookie scale extensions on all three of their young lottery picks.
Wiseman is the most expensive by far - due to make $12.1 million next season. This extension sets up a lot of pressure ahead of the following year, but that seems pretty far away from the top of the current list of concerns. For now, it is a vote of confidence and a signal that the team isn’t anywhere close to being out of patience. For what it’s worth, Wiseman has been murdering the opposition in the pick-and-roll, but it’s hard to tease out what specific impacts he has because of all the other things going wrong out there right now.
Kuminga and Moody will make significantly less, due to the rookie salary scale ($6 million, and $3.9 million, respectively). These guys are both one year behind Wiseman’s timeline, so the team also holds an option for Kuminga and Moody after this extension covering next season.
New month, new team. Warriors turn it around and pick up their first road win of the season!
I also predict that I would use the vacant roster spot on Dwight Howard if I could. Of course, it’s been long established that you shouldn’t put me in charge of roster construction…