Warriors successfully finish preseason; their patience is paying off with youth movement
POOLE + WIGGS GOT PAID! KLAY'S BACK! AND THE LOTTERY PICKS LOOK DOMINANT!
My last piece delved into the power of forgiveness in light of Draymond Green’s return to the team after punching teammate Jordan Poole, and also by how we should forgive the doubters and haters for being too blind to see the power of the Golden Empire.
And after the Golden State Warriors closed out their preseason with an entertaining 119-112 loss to the Denver Nuggets, today’s word of the day is patience.
It’s a lesson that I’m learning every day in my personal and worklife, but it’s especially prescient in talking hoops with Dub Nation on a regular basis. After all I am the man who demanded the Warriors trade Stephen Curry to keep Monta Ellis because AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME TO SEE IF THEM ANKLES GONNA WORK.
Ultimately I learned a valuable lesson there about giving players time to develop, something that has reverberated from the beginning of the Golden State dynasty. It wasn’t just Curry who needed some seasoning (and Pastor Mark Jackson’s prayers for his ankles). Many felt like the younger Splash Bro Klay Thompson was a project not worth retaining too!
Check out this lukewarm season review on Klay Thompson at the end of the 2014 season at GSOM, which could be best summed up as “Klay’s good but we shoulda traded him for Kevin Love”:
The critiques and positives are everywhere, and at this point, distinct in how we feel about Thompson. He can't dribble, pass, and if he's on an extended shooting slump - which has happened the past few years - he's perhaps the least reliable player on the floor.
This team could have Love running pick-and-pops with Curry and outletting to Andre Iguodala streaking down the sideline for a windmill slam. Instead, it appears that Jerry West and Steve Kerr are, by refusing to part with the Washington State product, forcing us to reexamine those very same flaws that have been apparent to everyone watching.
Klay Thompson is a very good player that had, by all accounts, a solid third season marked by progression and an increase in role and popularity. Unfair or not, the report card on Klay Thompson's 2013-14 season quickly became not how he played last season but whether what we're watching now is worth the future.
That season review feels fair for that time period, but it’s also giving whiffs of those frantic “we’re wasting Steph Curry’s prime WE GOTTA WIN NOW” narratives that actually deluded pundits into believing the Warriors had to trade their entire future for guys like Bradley Beal and Ben Simmons.
By the way, the next season after that GSOM piece was written, Thompson was a major component to the team winning the first championship in 40 years. Since then he’s become a 5-time All-Star and a volcanic scorer who has put on shooting displays that have literally rewritten the record books.
Last night Thompson gave Chase Center some of that hot magma as he played his first (and only) preseason game of the season, looking spry and drilling 5-of-8 three-pointers on his way to 17 points in 16 minutes.
Let’s take a look what Thompson’s young, developing teammates did last night to close out dress rehearsal for the season. There were plenty examples of how trusting GSW’s process is paying major dividends.
The DNHQ Vidcast has long been a temperature check for Dub Nation’s biggest hopes and deepest fears. Remember the 2021 episode where I was begging Duby Dub Dubs and Evan Z to have patience with Golden State developing James Wiseman while they lamented he wasn’t a perfect fit for Coach Steve Kerr’s system after an up-and-down rookie season? I implored them to wait at least until Klay was healthy to judge the big man as the floor spacing would be an enormous upgrade over the Kelly Oubre Jr. era.
And I was back at it with hyperbolic hope during last season’s episode where I flat out predicted Wiseman to be the best player out of Golden State’s recent cadre of first round draft picks.
Wellp, Big Wisey (just came up with that terrible nickname) has put up a very encouraging start to his third year as a Warrior, culminating with last night’s 15 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block effort on 7-of-9 shooting from the field in 17 minutes off the bench.
Hey is that improved spacing with Klay on the court for Wiseman to rumble? HUH, WHO WOULDA THOUGHT???
Wiseman’s stats in five preseason contests: 14.8 PPG on 66.7% shooting from the field with 6.2 RPG. He shot 60% from the free throw line and didn’t have a triple-double at any point so there’s still work for him to do to become the greatest center of all time. But the 7-footer has at least shown he’s a major factor to be dealt with, and he’s finally healthy.
Our blogfather Nate P. has been consistently telling me that Jonathan Kuminga’s is a chaotic force of nature that the Warriors can really use to stay unpredictable and dangerous.
I’ve privately mentioned in chats with him that sometimes I’m not exactly sure what JK’s role looks like when he’s on the floor with Wiseman, as they both love to play in the paint and there seems to be some natural spacing issues. How does the slashing sophomore lottery pick Kuminga fit in next to the behemoth center?
Nate just chortles back with a knowing eye, “CHAOS MY FRIEND, CHAOS”.
The above clip encapsulates some of that. Kuminga receives the pass on the wing with 7 seconds on the shot clock. He smartly attacks his defender’s harried closeout with an aggressive dribble that creates a new angle for the drive. With his supreme athleticism he’s in the paint in a blink of an eye, drawing a cautious Nikola Jokic away from Wiseman to keep JK from a thunderous jam. Kuminga feels the defensive shift and instinctively fires a dime to Wiseman for the boom shakalaka.
This next clip Kuminga starts herky-jerky dribbling his way directly into the paint, using his size and quickness to put his defender on his heels. This reminds me so much of my college days when guys who played football would join the open gym and just use sheer physicality to get around the rim. He spins his way into a double-team under the basket but finds the cutting Kevon Looney for an easy basket.
The Nuggets weren’t ready for all that and I’d bet other teams will struggle to cover GSW’s spacing while Kuminga keeps forcing the issue down around the rim and creating havoc. That chaotic energy is showing up on the defensive end as well, as he is showing signs that he can be a pretty good disrupter.
Now I’m seeing THE POWER OF KUMINGA KAOS next to the giant Wiseman, and there may be nothing the league can do to stop it…
I want to wrap this up by celebrating that the Dubs have just showered Jordan Poole with some serious cash as a reward for his superb play.
Talk about being patient! Poole went from talks of being a bust and a Bob Myers misfire to developing into one of the most exciting young players in the NBA. He gives the Warriors unlimited firepower when he shares the court with the Splash Bros.
This is also a big step towards the Warriors healing from the unfortunate punch Draymond Green landed on Poole’s jaw.
I’ve learned that player development requires so many moving pieces: coaching, system, fit, talent, chemistry. But none of those things can be seen through without utilizing patience. If there’s anything I've learned from watching those Netflix baking contests it’s that you’ve gotta have the proper ingredients, creativity, oven temperature, and TIME to make something beautiful.
Meanwhile far too often we in Dub Nation have comically been jumping up and down in the kitchen, frantically waving our arms demanding to know why the cake wasn’t ready to go despite the oven barely being preheated. “WE’RE IN A EAT NOW SITUATION, I CAN’T BE WASTING MY STOMACH’S PRIME”.
Thankfully in reality the Warriors are going to have their cake and eat it too, retaining their core stars while developing the next wave of youth. Let’s have a bite and enjoy it before panicking about the next imagined crisis.
Or ignore me do whatever the heck you want, we welcome it all here at DNHQ. Regardless, Steph Curry and the gang are back in action to deliver more beatdowns. THE CHAMPS ARE BACK BABY! THIS IS THE WAY!