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Wild turn of events: Kings resting players with playoffs locked up? Warriors still fighting
There's still a chance this all just works out
If the Golden State Warriors can win their next two games, they’re assured to avoid the play-in tournament. Thankfully, it looks like the next two opponents are bowing out and resting up for the preseason. So while the Warriors are definitely playing to maximize their positioning, the hope is that neither one of these upcoming two games would seem to present much of a challenge to the defending NBA champions.
But have you been watching this team all season? Nothing easy!
Maybe this is just a ploy from coach Mike Brown? The players are listed as Questionable - all except for Harrison Barnes:
WHO: Golden State Warriors (42-38) at Sacramento Kings (48-32)
WHEN: Friday March 4th, 2023 // 7pm PST
Blog Buddy: Sactown Royalty
There’s still a chance this all works out
Andrew Wiggins won’t be back until the postseason.
But when he does come back, there’s going to be a playoff team ready and waiting for him. None of this is possible without the core players being who they’ve shown themselves to be year over year, and Wiggins has earned a spot as the title defense approaches it’s final series of tests.
Incredibly, the Warriors have wobbled their way into the middle of the bracket and are probably more than content with how the standings are shaking out. Though there remains plenty to still be decided, the Warriors and Kings may very well be pointed right at each other when the postseason rolls around next week.
[note that image was extracted prior to completion of all games last night]
The Warriors are grateful for what is shaping up to be a relatively smooth path through the end of a tumultuous season. Plenty of injuries, rotation changes, and one jettisoned former #2 pick, the situation in Golden State has stabilized by leaning into the old core - which was more or less the plan all along.
The biggest investment over the offseason was the four year, $140 million contract extension they handed to Jordan Poole. That deal will bump his annual salary from about $4 million this season to $29 (or so) million next year. It was a big bet. If we are being honest, a much bigger and bolder bet than holding on to James Wiseman for an extra year or two too long.
But Poole has started to come around. This is a rolling average of his Points Scored per 100 Attempts (PSA).
The Warriors are asking Poole to do a lot more this year. The criticism this year has been mostly drawn to his dramatic floppy-limbed late game turnovers, but his drop in efficiency has been more of a problem throughout the season. Here we see the PSA again, remember that the colors are for percentile rank (orange good, blue bad). But in particular here, take a look at the increase in his usage (a measure of how frequently he “uses” each possession while on the court) and the dip in PSA compared to the spike in his assist rate. Poole’s game has changed.
That last big win in Oklahoma City almost certainly doesn’t happen if Poole doesn’t go nuts in the 4th. He scored 18 points of the Warriors 34 points. It also means that Poole was out there helping to hold the Thunder to just 19 in the final quarter of an important game. Sure, it was just against the Thunder, but Poole is becoming more and more comfortable as option 1A or 1B or whatever. That was the struggle with coming off the bench earlier in the season that has mostly ironed itself out because he’s been starting a fair amount.
One way or another though, Poole looks to be integrated into this complicated Steve Kerr and Stephen Curry ecosystem. Draymond Green, who leads the team in assists by a mile, passes the second most frequently to Poole - just looking at Green’s outgoing passes. Poole comes in third on the assist list only because Klay Thompson is such a lethal catch and shoot threat.
This hasn’t exactly come together seamlessly, but it is coming together. In it’s own ugly way, the Warriors have managed to have themselves a mess miracle season of their own. They’re in a position to do what they do in the playoffs, and that’s all they’ve wanted.
SMASH! Thank you Mike Brown. And congratulations on the playoff berth to all of the long suffering Kings fans. May your bandwagon grow strong enough to get annoying! Win out to control your destiny, Warriors!
Happy Friday! It’s the best day of the week in my opinion.
Boy oh boy I cannot get enough of this song. Maybe because I drive so much. Anyways, it’s bandcamp Friday, so all money you spend goes directly to the band. Treat yourself to something nice over there.