Warriors showed off their youth movement in loss to Nuggets
Golden State has been hitting on draft picks while still setting themselves up for a deep playoff run.
I’m keeping a running tally of lessons I’ve learned during a couple decades of watching pro basketball. Lessons like:
Hand down, man down
You reach, I teach
Never leave shooters in the corner
The NBA regular season matters differently for elite teams than it does for normal/trash teams.
The last one had originally flummoxed me when the Los Angeles Lakers of the Shaq-Kobe era would play some ugly stretches of basketball during the regular season, spawning a billion Around The Horn episodes wondering if their reign was finally done and the Sacramento Kings or San Antonio Spurs were ready to take over.
I bought into the narrative, believing Shaquille O’Neal was too overweight and Kobe Bryant was too selfish and the team would implode. And then to my shock suddenly they were healthy and on the same page in the playoffs, destroying teams left and right. Did you know the 2002 team that finished the threepeat finished 58-24 during the season, second in their division and third in their conference?
The Warriors currently sit at second in their division, and third in their conference after a 131-124 loss to the Denver Nuggets last night. The Dubs have lost five straight and haven’t had any meaningful time with their Big 3 of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green together on the floor. Last night none of those guys played and neither did All-Star Andrew Wiggins, allowing the youth movement of 3rd year man Jordan Poole to team up with rookies Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga.
They played hard and made some beautiful plays together. Poole led the way with 32 points on 11-of-19 shooting, and a ridiculous 8-of-12 from downtown. Moody had a career high 30 points on 10-of-23 shooting. Kuminga added 16 points of his own on of 6-of-9 shooting.
Coach Steve Kerr’s responsibility is to manage the raging ambition of his younger players while getting his proven vets the reps they need to stay in tip top rhythm. It’s not easy, but a lineup full of killers is great problem to have. And in some ways, the stars being sidelined is a blessing in disguise because it gives the young guys a chance to cut their teeth on pro competition. That will come in handy not only in this year’s playoffs, but for the rest of their careers as Warriors.
I will absolutely admit that it is mildly concerning that the Warriors haven’t got healthy yet. Duby Dub Dubs pointed out in his last piece that everyone knew the Warriors had question marks about their depth going into this season.
What’s less clear was exactly what the Warriors had to do to remedy that besides sign a scrap heap center; especially considering the loudest fans on Warriors Twitter said to package up the young guys for an established star like Bradley Beal or Ben Simmons.
Btw, Beal is out for the year with wrist surgery and Simmons has yet to play in a single game. Looking back, is it safe to say it would have been a completely insane idea to trade all the young depth for big name guys who have been complete non-factors this season? I say hell yeah.
For even wider contest, yesterday Warriors PR put out this tweet regarding the Warriors setting the longest regular season home win streak in NBA history
This was one of the most fun and dominant regular season teams in NBA history and didn’t win a title. I’m not going to get as wrapped up chasing regular season wins knowing that the real test looms around the corner. And as we’ve seen with great championship teams of the past, the real squads turn it on when the lights are brightest. Let’s just hope that the team has the health to do it.
Let’s let the youngster Moody remind us all about the power of patience, something he got a masterclass in from his teammate Curry.