Warriors, Lakers, on two sides of a wild season
Curry: "I'm good right now" quip shows how far the Warriors have come
While you can’t quite say that everything is perfect in Golden State, the Warriors are in a good place as the regular season winds to a close. Riding the inertia of a strong start to the season, the Warriors were able to endure one hell of a season and are coming out the other side of it with home seeding throughout the playoffs (assuming they can win one of their final three games).
Tonight’s opponent, the Los Angeles Lakers have not come out nearly as rosy. In fact, the entire franchise is smelling more like what you put on the roots of roses to help them grow. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Westbrook are all listed as Questionable coming into the game — a familiar vibe for a Warriors fanbase that is still waiting for the grand reunion of our own big three.
No unusual injuries for the Warriors tonight, Wiseman is done for the season, and Curry is slowly ramping up — but otherwise Golden State will have the rest of their roster available.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (50-29) vs Los Angeles Lakers (31-48)
WHEN: Thursday April 7th, 2022 // 7pm PDT
The Hug, Jordan Poole, and the Splash Family
When I woke up this morning (well, yesterday morning by the time you read this) I thought this section was going to be about the very real Sixth Man of the Year candidacy of Poole. But in light of LeBron’s comments yesterday, I think it’s more germane to look at his role in the next iteration of the dynasty. After spending significant time in the G League throughout the early part of his career, Poole has emerged as one of the league’s best young guards.
His emergence this season has been a huge part of the team’s success, and he’s played his way firmly into the team’s plans for the future. From Cleaning the Glass, here’s the full list of players with a positive net impact this season (excludes garbage time):
The value that this team has gotten out of the low-cost contracts on the top of that list can’t be overstated, but Poole’s position here is a bit more special than being just another bargain player.
Poole has the third highest usage on the team (behind only Curry and the shot-happy Klay Thompson) and third best scoring efficiency. Poole is scoring at a rate of 121.6 points per 100 shot attempts, which is in the 93rd percentile for players at his position. More than any of these elite numbers, Poole’s ability to play like one of the Splash Brothers - but different - is going to be a tremendous asset in the playoffs. He's so slippery off the dribble that it creates another source of gravity - hopefully the sort of thing that will be a useful counter for defenses that over-commit to stopping Curry.
For a team that has been defined lately by the so-called “bridge the gap” approach, Poole could well be the player that serves as the seed for the next core.
The Warriors are close to the finish line on this regular season, needing just one more win. Same goes for the rebuild. If Poole is as good as he looks to be right now, the Warriors may have discovered their bridge to the future.
With that happy hug of Klay after the last big comeback win, it all serves as a lovely backdrop to witness the second consecutive failure of LeBron James’ Lakers tenure. Long holding the position of best player in the world, James has begun to develop a worrying pattern of jumping from franchise to franchise.
Now contrast that with the home that Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson have built here in Dub Nation. Where James is heading home for the second time in his four Lakers’ seasons without going to the playoffs (and presumably tearing it all down one way or another in the upcoming offseason), the Warriors are poised.
Poised to withstand a couple of blips here and there without giving up on the plan. Poised to build a plan that makes sense given the established roster here. And in the middle of it all is Curry. More than a stabilizing presence, there’s a magnetic draw to him that is beyond his on court gravity. Curry is home, in a lot of ways, here.
Curry has always gone out of his way to root for his teammates. He’s got a Bazemore-esque vibe on the bench and it’s not just for show — he really is invested in this whole thing. Messy as it may be at times.
Phase Two (mostly) complete!
Before the season, Curry talked about the three phases of this season. After going through the opening portion (and kicking butt) in Phase One, as well as reintegration of Klay Thompson in Phase Two, it is finally time to turn the full attention to Phase Three and the NBA Playoffs.
The Warriors have won two in a row, including a massive comeback over a potential playoff opponent. The third-seeded Warriors remain one game up on the Dallas Mavericks in the loss column with three to play. Bottom line is that Golden State just needs to win one of these final three games to ensure homecourt in the first round.
Here’s the current playoff picture (with some stuff on the bottom still somewhat in flux):
The playoffs are just about here. It’s funny, with all the chatter about bandwagon fans and such, I find myself much more calm now than earlier in the season. The road has been super bumpy at times, but the road led mostly to where everyone hoped. Health is still the biggest factor, but proof of concept was shown early when everyone was healthy. Put Curry back into the lineup and roll the dice!
The Warriors want to be sure to pick up at least one more win this season, but the plan is coming together well enough.