Warriors beat Spurs with the power of their youth movement
With their big guns on the sideline, Golden State overcame a double-digit 4th quarter deficit with a sharp performance from their role players and burgeoning stars.
A game after the Golden State Warriors incinerated the Houston Rockets, a franchise they’ve owned for years, the Dubs stole a win against their old nemesis San Antonio Spurs 124-120.
A road win in San Antonio for Dub Nation used to be pure fantasy. The Spurs dominated the Warriors and tortured them anytime the teams faced off in Texas, winning 33-straight at home in the head to head matchup from 1997 to 2016. That’s the longest road losing streak in NBA history, and it symbolized how powerful the Spurs were and how inept the Warriors were over that time. In fact, that streak was only broken by the 2016 defending champion Warriors who took their 72nd win of the season in a brutal battle in San Antonio.
That makes last night’s win even sweeter; Dub Nation can always appreciate winning down there in Texas. The Warriors in some ways have followed the Spurs’ dynastic blueprint by drafting young talent to extend the championship window of their core stars. Take a look at the 2017-2018 Spurs roster which I’d argue was the last time they could be considered a true title contender before Kawhi Leonard demanded out.
I see some All-Stars in their primes (Leonard, Aldridge), some savvy vets near the end of their runs (Parker, Ginobili, Gasol), some battle tested veterans with plenty of years left (Green, Mills). And I see an intriguing youth movement underneath all that with Kyle Anderson, Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Bryn Forbes, and Davis Bertrans all in the beginning stages of their careers. Murray in particular was the crown jewel of that youth movement, per Sportscasting:
In January 2018, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and longtime point guard Tony Parker handed the reins to Dejounte Murray.
On a team that featured Parker, Manu Ginobili, Pau Gasol, and LaMarcus Aldridge — plus Kawhi Leonard — Murray suddenly found himself as the starting point guard. The second-year man showed his capabilities as a taller, playmaking guard, also making the All-Defensive team.
Parker hailed Murray as the team’s next great point guard, and Pop said in 2019 that the youngster’s eagerness to learn and be coached reminded him of Spurs legends past.
That’s about as ideal as you’re gonna see a team pulling off the “win-now, develop now” plan that Golden State is putting together on the fly now. And that team imploded when Leonard’s relationship with the team soured over his health. They limped into the playoffs without him to be crushed by the superpowered Warriors:
The Spurs eventually were forced to trade Leonard and Green to the Toronto Raptors, which had to chafe extra bad for Spurs fans when those two guys immediately won a title by helping their new team knock off the Warriors in the 2019 Finals.
Taking another look at that previous Spurs roster of yesteryear: only Dejounte Murray and Derrick White remain on their team today as San Antonio has floundered to a 19-33 record. I never thought I’d live to see the day where the Spurs were no longer in the running for championships. Their quest to develop the next wave of good young players has put their title dreams on hold for now.
Now I can see more of Draymond Green’s point that me made before the season about how hard it is for teams to compete for championships while developing young projects:
Funny enough, the Warriors are actually making that proposition a reality if we’re to judge by the team boasting two current All-Star starters while their recent first round draft picks blossom. Last night those young players took center stage in San Antonio while the team’s expensive stars rested on the second game of a back-to-back. No Splash Bros, no All-Star Wiggs, and no DPOY Draymond.
Just Kevon Looney and a bunch of hungry guys looking to make their mark on the league.
30 Assists without Dray or Steph?!
Last night was the 20th time this season that GSW finished with 30 or more dimes. But to do it without their stars is a credit to coach Steve Kerr’s system and to the unselfish intelligence of the team. Juan Toscano-Anderson had a team high 7 assists to lead the passing onslaught.
Jordan Poole and Kevon Looney both will get max contracts?!
Poole and Looney deserve to get PAID for the way they are showing out. Loon gritted his way to a 12-point, 12-rebound double-double while manning up as the team’s only center. Technically the former first round pick from 2015 was the longest tenured Golden State draft pick on the floor last night.
Meanwhile his teammate Poole, GSW’s first round pick from 2019, put up the kind of game that opposing GM’s salivate over. I’m sure they’re going to want to steal him away as his offensive skill set is getting more refined and explosive with each game.
We shouldn’t trade Kuminga + Moody + Wiggins for a random Eastern Conference All-Star?!
Moses Moody needs more minutes. I don’t know he’s going to get them, but this guy deserves every single second Kerr can throw at him. 20 points, 7 rebounds, 1 turnover on 60% shooting from beyond the arc is everything I always wanted from Alfonzo McKinnie or Nick Young.
And this Jonathan Kuminga guy is so courageous and athletically gifted that each time he gets the ball it’s must see TV. At any given moment he’s capable of running to posterize somebody, splash a three, or wildly driving into the paint for what that ends up in a bullying layup attempt reminiscent of 8th graders overpowering 6th graders on 8-foot hoops.
Look at his audacity in taking this pull up bomb with the game hanging in the balance, much to the coaching staff’s amusement:
Do the Warriors have the best guard depth in the NBA?
Gary Payton II had 5 steals in 17 minutes, giving him a total of 68 on the season which is good for 13th most in the NBA. That’s kinda insane considering he’s coming off the bench.
Damion Lee balled out for 21 points on 5-of-10 shooting from deep, reminding us he’s a guy the Warriors can rely on to space the floor in dire situations. Chris Chiozza played a quality 27 minutes: he had a team high +17 plus/minus and 5 assists.
And last but not least Quinndary Weatherspoon contributed 6 points and 4 rebounds in 15 minutes. I saved him for last because he’s actually a former San Antonio draft pick who is now helping out the Dubs in their championship quest.
It used to be the Spurs seemed to have all the magic with drafting and adding pieces; now the Warriors are showing us what it looks like to win-now while developing.