After losing Klay Thompson to an ACL and Kevin Durant in free agency, the Warriors knew this season was going to be a learning process. But what have they learnt?
As an elitist Golden State fan through this recent championship run, I’ve had the luxury of watching the basketball equivalent to fine wine and expensive cheeses. You can imagine my shock when I turn on my league pass and am dining with goon and shredded tasty cheese.
But of course, I knew that this season was going to be rough. The 2019/20 season was supposed to be the Steph Curry show as Bob Meyers cobbled a roster together around the franchise’s golden child while pressed against the hard cap.
We know what happened next; Aron Baynes took a charge and accidentally fell on Steph’s hand which broke and will likely sideline him for the rest of the season. At the most, he’d be expected to play the final handful of games just to get his rhythm back, but that’s just me speculating.
In Steph’s absence, Golden State has thrown out some of the worst lineups in the league and is currently sitting with the worst record in the league. Worse than the fucking Knicks.
But unlike the Knicks, the Dubs will see Steph and fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson come back to the roster after essentially a year off each. It’s because of this that this season isn’t so much about developing players for the future — the outlook a bad team usually has — it’s about developing players to be contributors next season.
While the front office won’t be as pressed financially next season, it’s important for any title contender to find value on cheap surrounding talent.
So, allow me to go through some of the “big” names on the roster to see how they’re playing and how they could fit on a fully-healthy Warriors team next season:
One of the few bright spots for the Warriors this season, Paschall has been an efficient creator and solid big man on both ends. He’s current scoring just over 17 a game on a 54 effective field goal percentage.
He’s such a strong player, which is to be expected as a 23-year-old rookie coming out of Villanova, and has some nice flex-worthy finishes this season. Using Cleaning the Glass’ garbage time filter, he’s shooting 56.2 percent at the rim which is good for the 77th percentile among bigs.
Unfortunately, his gross ass jump shot doesn’t go in very often. I think anyone that’s watched him shoot it could guess that: his feet have a mind of their own when in the air and his little flick motion isn’t the most replicable shot in the world.
That’s alright though, he’ll be playing next to the two best shooters in the world in Steph and Klay and won’t be the number one option on a bad team, he can stick to what he’s good at and play off the stars.
It’s an absolute no brainer that Paschall will be on the team next season, as a second-round pick he’ll be on one of the cheapest cost-controlled contracts in the league and will be much more valuable than the weekly payments to his bank account.
The question then turns to what his role will be on a team with a fully-healthy squad?
A big man rotation of Kevon Looney, Draymond Green and Paschall definitely wouldn’t be the worst in the league.You also have to factor in whoever the team drafts with their lottery pick *cough* James Wiseman *cough*.
While I’m not willing to pencil him in for more than 15 points per game next season, I’m more than willing to say Paschall will have a big role on this team in 2020/21.
Now let’s move on to the iffy ones:
I’m going to go a bit easy on Burks; he’s one of the only on-ball creating guards on a roster starving for creation. Tough gig.
Burks is putting up some pretty average numbers on some ungodly poor shooting numbers. The 28-year-old is in the bottom third of the league from the rim out to 14 feet according to Cleaning the Glass.
He’s creating his own shot, driving into the paint and realising that he has no solid options (that’ll happen on a bad team), and then puts up some poop.
And again, a victim of his circumstance, the shots he’s most efficient at are in the long mid-range and corner three. That corner shot looks nice until you realise as a primary ball handler, only eight percent of his shots come from that area.
I’m going to stop myself from talking about his offence on this team. He is essentially a ball handler who can get his own shot. If it goes in… well that’s another question.
If Burks does sign on after this season with the Warriors, he’ll find himself being superseded by any morsel of efficiency they sign ahead of him. Let’s assume D’Angelo Russell and Ky Bowman remain on the team, there’s already two guards ahead of him on the bench rotation.
On that grim topic, let’s look at Ky ‘Sky’ Bowman:
Listeners of The Deep Two NBA podcast might be able to hear the taste on the tip of my tongue when I pronounce the two-way player’s name, but I’m actually not that low on the blonde. It’s more the taste of goon compared to fine wine, imagine you’ve just watched 80 plus Steph Curry games a year before this.
The 6’1” guard is actually shooting quite well, the eye test lines up with numbers as he’s getting his nine points on a 51 effective field goal percentage and a flat 40 percent from three, good for the 84th percentile amongst guards.
It’s interesting that, while he is a two-way player, Steve Kerr is trying everything he can that isn’t Bowman when it becomes available. I’m not just talking about Russell starting ahead, Kerr has been playing Draymond at the lead guard. Maybe he’s still scarred that Kendrick Nunn was on this team, but he was let go in favour of Bowman.
Side note: that’s a really sad thought, imagine if Nunn and Paschall were on the same team. Please press F.
If this is Bowman’s ceiling: an overmatched starter but efficient enough backup to warrant minutes (see Cook, Quin) then it’s not out of this world to see him on the roster next season.
Regardless of who’s there above him, the Warriors will need some Steph injury insurance for those ten to 20 games he could always miss.
I think that sums it up, he would be a great piece of regular season injury insurance. His role on next season’s team would be minimal but I’m all for giving him a contract in a weird sort of thanks after flinging a two-way guy into the starting spot all season.
As Ethan Strauss so famously says: “fat is just potential in disguise”.
If there ever was a test case for that theory, it’s Kevin Love.
If there ever was a test case at the high school/ late primary school level, it’s Omari Spellman.
After a weird start to his career in Atlanta, Spellman and the Hawks front office decided it was in the best interest of both parties to not return.
While he’s not blowing the world away, Spellman gives the team another look on the big man front (or in other words, a look away from Willie Cauley-Stein). Spellman lost 40 pounds over the summer and has been getting weight loss tips from Draymond Green (ironic, maybe it’s weight loss in a contract year tips).
While he has buffed up pretty much every one of his numbers across the board and the counting stats do look nice, it’s more a testament to how poorly he shot in his rookie season than how big of a jump it is.
But for some reason, I keep getting flashbacks to former champion Mo Speights. His role on that first championship run was a needed role in the regular season, he jacked up some mid-rangers and kept the defence honest. Very minimal but it helps in the grand scheme of things, helps stretch out the defence for a bench mob that might need all the spacing it can get.
The idea of Glenn Robinson is great, he’s a 3-and-D wing who fills the most valuable need in the entire league. But if the idea was a reality, he wouldn’t be playing on a minimum for the fifth team in six seasons.
Glenn Rob has an almost exactly average effective field goal percentage this season and his ability to start and play over 30 minutes a game for the first time has seen his counting stats jump up too: 11.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and almost a steal.
If you squint really hard, it might look like Mo Harkless in a Warriors jersey. Robinson has less of an ability to slide up or down a position and seems to be locked into the three. On the season he has played 14 percent of his minutes at the four according to basketball-reference.com.
That is, in no way, a knock on him as a player. Mo Harkless has a role in this league and might even be a champion role player this season.
Entering next season, if the Warriors want to contend with the big boys, they’ll have to find a more capable wing to defend the LeBron James’, Kawhi Leonards and Kevin Durants of this world and I don’t think Robinson can evolve into that player.
The first wing off the bench? Now that’s a wonderful role for him to play. He will be able to come in and play a secondary role alongside whichever Splash Brother remains and depending on who the Warriors get this offseason, he could even play serious minutes.
If I’m Bob Meyers, I try and lock Robinson down as fast as possible for as long as possible. Wings are extremely valuable in this league and for him to just be passable this season in one of the worst teams in the league, that’s at least a sliver of hope.
He has a greater than one percent chance at becoming something in a position of value. Do it.
Speaking of greater than one percent, here we are with Swaggy Poole and at least he’s hit more than one percent of his shots. That’s not to fault him for trying however.
The Warriors were criticised for taking the 20-year-old 28th overall in the draft and even after Steve Kerr gave him the longest leash possible, the shooting guard hasn’t been able to stick in the starting lineup.
Unlike Robinson, the theory of Poole isn’t even that great, what is he? Kyle Korver? Nick Young?
That’s very true when it comes to Swaggy Poole who has a 4.1 PER, 25 percent three-point percentage and has 29 turnovers to his 48 assists on the season. Using Cleaning the Glass’ filter, he’s scoring 76.3 points per 100 possessions, good for the second percentile in the league.
At the moment, he doesn’t project to be an NBA player but he might actually end up on next seasons roster simply due to his draft position and team-controlled contract.
It’s not all bad though. He’s still just 20 and isn’t afraid to shoot. He’s taking just over five threes a game, proving he’s not scared of your fancy-schmancy numbers.
I’m not enthused by what I’ve seen in Poole so far and I’m not excited at his apparent ceiling right now. I’m fully prepared to be wrong but if a team approaches the Warriors and is willing to give up a second-round pick, I say they jump on it.
I’m ashamed to admit how excited I was when I saw the Willie signing this offseason. As an extremely casual Kentucky fan, my brain flashed back to his time on some of those great Wildcat teams and the comparisons to Tyson Chandler.
But there’s a bit of a theme here when it comes to these minimum guys: if the Warriors got them on the cheap, there’s probably a good reason for that. Especially after he left a Sacramento team that really needed a player exactly like his best-case scenario, an athletic, shot-blocking big.
This season he’s average on offence, 7.5 points per game is the lowest since his rookie season. He’s very one-dimensional on offence, he can’t create his own shot and only offers Clint Capela-type finishing.
That’s okay, it’s not his calling card, he came into the league as defensive player, so how is that going?
Pretty average. When he’s on the court, opponents score less than a point more per 100 possessions using Cleaning the Glass’ filter. That’s pretty meh, but it’s also a good meh seeing that he is on a bad team.
When it comes to his influence on opponents shots is another big pile of meh. He sits around the league average for bigs in frequency of shots, meaning he isn’t deterring opponents from any one spot on the court but isn’t conceding anything crazy either.
On a positive note, he limits opponents shooting at the rim, holding them to 8.4 percentage points less and seven percent less from short mid-range.
It’s hard to get across my tone in this section, but I’m not enthused with Willie and also not disappointed. I feel like a Kings fan.
Those pesky Kings fans and their memey culture social accounts have made sure to kick WCS on his way out the door, especially since their new shiny backup big Richaun Holmes is getting some decent counting stats, but I don’t think that’s necessary. He’s just meh.
His role on next season’s Warriors? Well, it’ll be a heated battle to see who sticks it out between he and Omari Spellman. I don’t think many people will be following that roster crunch very hard but hey, as I said at the top of the article, this team is far from what us elitist Warriors fans are used to.
Each win is still a win
While some of the positional battles are a bit… pathetic, for every player that flashes a little something or for every Eric Paschall that solidifies his place in the league, the Warriors get a player to join them on what could be their final championship run.
While it’s never a great thing to be losing basketball games, this season may actually push the Warriors even further ahead.
Light years ahead.