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Wiggins questionable, Curry out as Golden State hosts Blazers to end a wild year
Reflecting on a 2022 Warriors championship that changed everything, and nothing
What a wild year it’s been for the Golden State Warriors. Fresh off their improbable championship, it was an offseason of pure bliss. The offseason of WHAT ARE THEY GONNA SAY NOW? Four championships in the last eight seasons cemented this dynasty in the history books.
Only… it’s not truly cemented, is it? Stephen Curry and the core of these Warriors aren’t done yet. The chase for a fifth ring has immediately moved to the forefront as Golden State retools on the fly around their proven veterans and heavily decorated coach. It’s a tense environment for a group of fans and players alike that are all heavily rooting for more success.
Tonight is the last game of 2022. It’s been a wild, fantastically fun and unpredictable ride!
Six months removed from their championship, the Warriors enter tonight’s game without Curry, and probably without Andrew Wiggins; but somehow, this franchise has managed to keep hope alive - even while barely hovering at .500 on the season there’s a silver lining.
Here’s the most recent roster update, at time of writing:
“I would say Andrew is doubtful for Portland,” Kerr said Wednesday night after the Warriors’ 112-107 victory over the Utah Jazz. “He needs a couple days of practice. He just got back in the gym [Wednesday]. We’ll see how he’s feeling. I suppose there’s a chance he could play against Portland, but I would say doubtful.”
Kerr also said the Warriors plan to bring rookie Patrick Baldwin Jr. back to San Francisco for Friday’s game in case an extra body is needed.
I cannot say how significant this is, but the Warriors have recalled PBJ back down to the G League, potentially signalling that Wiggins is available? (But also, why not keep PBJ up with the main team? He looked great.)
Anyways, on the NBA injury report Wiggins is still formally listed as “out” which seems to be in line with Anthony Slater’s read of the situation, but you can check for any updates on the official page here.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (18-18) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (18-16)
WHEN: Friday, December 30th, 2022 // 7pm PDT
WATCH: NBCSBA; NBATV
What to expect tonight? Who knows, but we are learning and growing!
Just like the rest of 2022, the Warriors are coming into tonight’s game without any guarantees. Their best player is still on the bench, nursing a partially dislocated shoulder that will keep him out for at least two more weeks (or so). After a tumultuous start to the season, the team has begun to stabilize - the internal development finally coming to fruition in a way that meaningfully helps the team win games.
Here’s the full player rotation from the previous game. A few weeks ago, if you showed me this list, I would have assumed a loss. You know what they say about assuming though right? Now I read down this list and wonder what the heck happened between the preseason (when this portion of the roster looked so good) and the early season’s returns. One way or another, this is now a list of players that Kerr can count on - to varying degrees.
The known commodities are as solid as we knew them to be. Draymond Green’s defense - especially towards the end of the game - were a major ingredient in that delicious victory over the Utah Jazz. Lest we all become inured to his greatness, here’s a compilation of the closing three minutes condensed down to 59 seconds:
Next to Green, Kevon Looney did his usual dependable veteran things. As Joe Viray calls it: Kevon Looney as a decision-maker, connector, and passing hub. Alongside Jordan Poole’s slicing and dancing his way through opposing defenses, the overwhelming weight these three can apply is tough to overcome - even without Curry and Wiggins.
But now there’s a second timeline developing.
I don’t know what everyone’s expected hit rate is on various draft picks, but for a Golden State franchise that is so locked in with the top of their roster, it shakes out to a lot of high visibility gambles on marginal contracts. Especially in the second round, where the odds that a team will find a player who sticks in the league for three-plus years are roughly the same as finding a player who isn’t good enough to ever play. You can quibble with the boundaries, and the odds are certainly much better for lottery picks and first rounders, but the general premise of uncertainty is a recurring theme here.
I’ve realized that I’ve been thinking about the second timeline all wrong. It’s not a stand alone entity. It’s the fusion between old and new that is going to come first. It won’t be the second timeline taking over, they just need to be chipping in - and that’s starting to happen.
I posted the box score from the Warriors previous game above, but it’s worth carving out some space to look at just how deep down into the bargain bin Golden State is digging to find success. James Wiseman is looking way better, but as a part of that improvement, coach Kerr has been much more selective about lineup and mismatch hunting with his minutes.
Instead, it’s the Warriors’ two-way contracts and bargain veteran free agent that were leaned on in the closing minutes. There are 19 games left ahead of the close of trade season, meaning the Warriors still have time to figure out what they want to do. That said, the clock is ticking on a couple of Kerr’s most frequent early season substitutes, Anthony Lamb and Ty Jerome. Lamb has used up 28 of his allotted 50 games in the NBA, Jerome 23 of the 50.
I’ll spare you the math. Lamb can play in 22 more games, Jerome in 27 - and the Warriors have 46 games left on the schedule. As always seems to be the case, we’ve got a question of “what comes next” even while we are all still laughing and dancing in the proverbial streets off the recent uptick in fortune.
Resident wordsmith and sage, Sleepy Freud summed up the options so nicely, I’m just going to clip his comment. Here are the options to roster these players - and remember that the Warriors came into the year with one roster spot left wide open and available, should they deem either player worthy of a full contract promotion.
This is a good problem to have, believe it or not. That both players have played well enough to merit consideration is a boon - and yet another reason to trust a Warriors front office that navigated the roster reconstruction well enough to earn a championship after the departure of Kevin Durant. I don’t know what I’d do, I’m more of a 5 or 6 at this point.
(mega) Music Friday!
As the last Friday of the year, and because one of you lovely DNHQ members was silly enough to ask me about it, I thought I’d give a little bit of an overview list for today. I’ve gone to over a concert per week this year, so here is a list of some of the modern bands that I like most. Be advised that this is punk music mostly, so may not be appropriate for all listeners due to some adult themes and naughty language.
I’m always on the hunt for new stuff too, so please drop a band or song in the comments that you’ve been listening too recently!
I hate top 10 lists (maybe because I suck at them), instead here are the bands and songs I thought of when I just barfed out this list. So, in alphabetical order:
Bad Cop Bad Cop; Pursuit Of Liberty. Probably the band that I would point to as the best modern punk band that still heavily tours. Hyper political, female fronted, simple melodies driven by repetitive drums.
JER; Decolonize Yr Mind. Absolutely bonkers new ska artist that hit fame mostly doing covers. Their initial album is really good, but this song in particular stands out. Good for people that enjoy hip hop and/or ska.
Sarchasm; When’s my right time, Kent? Fantastic song. My favorite small underground punk band, possibly. Really sweet lyrics, and I’m always a sucker when the drummer can sing and play at the same time. I’m going to their farewell show tonight at Gilman and am really going to miss this band.
That’s it! Happy New Year, DNHQ!
It’s been a pleasure going through the joy and pain with you all; thanks for making this place possible!
Late addition (supplements to comments below)
Just because it exists and we are talking about it, I’m making a few late post-publish additions to this article. Given the discussion of Poole in the starting five instead of Klay - which isn’t going to happen anyways - I’ve taken the NBA lineup data and summarized it in a couple of ways.
First, here’s the graphical representation showing total minutes and Net Rating (score differential per 100 possessions):
That’s good for the overall gist of the information, but here’s the table as well:
All numbers are directly from NBA’s database, here.