Warriors march towards undefeated (pre)season with win over Nuggets
Golden State's rebuild is being revealed before our very eyes.
The Golden State Warriors continue their stranglehold on the NBA preseason, besting the Denver Nuggets 118-116 in front of a grateful Chase Center home crowd.
Two of the premiere modern basketball geniuses took the court for a half: reigning MVP Nikola Jokic cruised to a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double in 16 minutes while two-time MVP Stephen Curry drilled four triples in 15 minutes. They both look like their names will be in the MVP running again once the real game starts.
But for several of Curry’s teammates, there were plenty of opportunities to demonstrate their growth in extended playing time.
Jordan Poole is yet another sign the Warriors know how to develop players
The Michigan man’s floor generalship has matured immensely from his rookie season two years ago to today. In 2019, the 20-year old Poole had the courage to attack but his handle was suspect.
But his hard work in the gym has paid off in 2021 (that’s right folks, young players CAN get better with time! Stop begging to trade away James Wiseman!). When Poole drives, the defense gets nervous.
Poole’s swag is off the charts. He was frying Stephen Curry’s relative-by-marriage Austin Rivers with lumpia sauce. It’s only been two preseason games, but both Portland and Denver seemed flummoxed by Golden State leveraging Poole’s driving ability with the new-and-improved complementary floor spacing.
Porter, Bjelica, and Juan Toscano-Anderson: PB & J
Optimistic Warriors fans had to contend with some pretty heavy doses of cynicism over this summer. Every reason we believed this team will make a run was countered with supreme eyebrow raising and hand waving.
I had to bookmark this exchange with regular DNHQ Vidcast guest Evan Zamir following that skeptical laundry list back in August:
THINLY CONSTRUCTED! Well, Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bjelica showed some pretty good basketball skills last niiiiight though. OPJ led the bench in scoring with 15 points and 9 rebounds on 5-of-7 shooting (4-of-6 from beyond the arc). His 6-foot-8 frame looks more like 6-foot-10 on TV with the way he wins battles for boards.
I’m pretty sure OPJ will be getting hella shots like this during the regular season and playoffs (and Finals??? hmmm). The REALLY scary part is what happens when the defense scrambles tight enough to recover out to him in the corner? Wellp folks, he’s intelligent enough to keep that rock moving, and eventually it can fall into the hot hands of the Chef himself.
But how about Bjelica adding 13 points of his own with 4-of-7 shooting (3-of-5 from downtown)? The 6-foot-10 sharpshooter has a quick and easy release, and toggled smoothly between ball movement and disrespectful deep bombs. This dude can SHOOT.
Juan Toscano-Anderson joined them off the bench to dish a team-high 5 assists in 19 minutes. JTA has the innate ability to find any open man with the right pass at the right time. These three seasoned vets next to the sage Andre Iguodala is going to mean this bench is going to A PROBLEM for other teams. I wanna see the Dubs throw James Wiseman out there with this unit for an oversized funky look, or maybe one of the two rooks.
Speaking of the bench players…
Moses Moody went 2-of-3 from 3PT range in 11 minutes and added 3 steals. Jonathan Kuminga left after six minutes with an apparent injury.
Both young players are still on track to becoming first ballot Hall-of-Famers, but check back in this space periodically to keep tabs on them, aiite?
In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you saw from the others and who you got winning the RACE FOR THE 15TH SPOT. I’m leaning towards Gary Payton II (who is injured) or Avery Bradley despite his -9 plus/minus in 16 minutes. The team already has plenty of shooters and ball handlers; it’d be nice to have a theoretically ballhawking guard on the roster (theoretically because we saw jitterbug PG Facundo Campazzo take it to Bradley a bit last night).
Then again this team only has Kevon Looney and James Wiseman as legit CENTER options unless they want to run Draymond Green’s body into exhaustion. Maybe it’d be nice to have some of that Jordan Bell mojo from the 2018 Western Conference Finals? We know he can run and block the hell outta shots still.
So I finally got around to reading the Hollinger prediction article. Someone already posted his Predictions section a couple posts back, so I won't comment on that. He does make some interesting points elsewhere. Overall, he relies heavily on projections, and I'm skeptical of them.
I think that most projections are almost always focused on expected value. However, the dubs have quite a few players returning from injury, and projections typically have a hard time with injury recovery.
Nonetheless, here are some of the key VORP/100 predictions for you guys who understand VORP a bit better than me to chew on:
Klay/OPJ/Poole/Wiseman seem low to me. Three injury recovery candidates and one breakout season candidate. Bjelly may also see more of an uptick based on better system fit.
The other main point he makes is about the Dubs' cap situation:
Even if they cull the roster to 14 players and not make any further additions, the Warriors are looking at cutting a $180 million check to the league after the season. Let me try to put this staggering sum in some context: This isn’t their payroll; this is additional money they owe. But it happens to be more than the payroll of every other team in the league.
Finally, I had to share his paragraph on Smiley:
Finally, let us pour one out for Smailagic, a player the Warriors seemed to covet more for the subterfuge involved in obtaining him than any evidence of ability. After hiding him on their G League team for a year, surrendering cash and two seconds to get a pick and draft him (two spots ahead of Paschall!) and keeping him on the roster for two years, he was mercifully let go.
All your questions, answered by someone who doesn't know much:
Q. Who should be the 15th guy? A. GP II. He plays better with a hernia than Galloway Cillozza or Bradley. I gave Mulder consideration given his proven ability to play in the system but he's redundant. GPII is a ball-hawking guard, which we don't have. Unless you count Bradley who *says* he's still a ball-hawking guard but ... no longer really seems to be. And Jordan Bell isn't .. how to say this? ... a very good basketball player. Hasn't improved his game at all. It's nice that he's tall but he's not even that tall. No nostalgia contract for you, sir, Iguodala already got that one.
Q. Can Jordan Poole play defense well enough to keep him and Steph on the floor at the same time? A. Kerr says he's worried about exactly that. Kerr isn't stupid.
Q. How many games will Otto survive to play this year? A. Vegas over-under is probably 13 with this guy. Which sucks because he's looking damn good.
Q. Who is slower on defense, Nemanja Bjelica or me? A. It's close, and I'm 56.
Q. When is Klay coming back? A. He just dunked in practice and a nation cringed.
Q. Are Kuminga, Moody and Wiseman going to get much playing time? A. Wiseman is lucky that Looney is the only guy ahead of him because he's just about as raw as the rookies. All three young guys will be familiar faces at the Hindquarter here in Santa Cruz (It's between their hotel and the arena and sells hefty portions)
Q. How many games will GSW win this year? Are they playoff bound? Could they actually contend for a championship? A. That's three questions.