The Warriors are in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race and yet it seems many people, based on the questions I received, have concerns about their potential. It’s true, this team can be hard to gauge.
This is a team, after all, that came back from a 19-point deficit to beat the Lakers, defeated the Spurs by 22 points, but disappointed in games against the Nuggets and Knicks. So where does this team stand almost a month in the season? I have several questions about the team’s rotation, upside and strategy. Let’s get to it.
If we assume Kelly Oubre is willing to take a pay cut, would he have a future with the Warriors? — Yehya Aly.
This will be something the Warriors have to determine in the offseason. Oubre’s defensive versatility, energy and athleticism are certainly helpful to a team in need of all three, but is it worth the price? If Oubre’s next contract is similar to his current one that pays him $15 million a year, that may be out of Golden State’s price range. Keep in mind that, with Klay Thompson back next season, Oubre would likely come off the bench. That’s a lot of money for a backup. Yes, the Warriors paid Andre Iguodala $16 million in his final season, but that was also with Thompson and Draymond Green accounting for about $15 million less than they make now. That said, the Warriors traded a top-20 protected first-round pick in 2021 for Oubre. After that, do they really want to lose him for nothing? It all depends on how much Joe Lacob is willing to pay for this team, and if he thinks a team with Oubre coming off the bench would have a substantially better chance at winning a championship than a team without Oubre. Oubre’s performance this season, and perhaps his willingness to take a paycut to stay in Golden State, will help answer this question.
Why isn’t Mychal Mulder getting more playing time? He is one of the best outside shooters and is not a terrible defender. — Chriss Norton.
At 9.4 minutes per game, Mulder is averaging the second-fewest minutes per game (ahead of only two-way rookie Nico Mannion, who has played in only two games this season). It’s clear at this point the coaching staff views him as a 3-point specialist. Over the last three games, he’s been replaced by Jordan Poole in the second unit to start the second quarter. That’s in large part because Oubre has taken Andrew Wiggins’ spot in that lineup. Without Wiggins, that group needs more ball-handling. Oubre is not someone you want running offense. Poole is a better ball-handler than Mulder and so, for now, he is getting those 11th-man minutes. But Mulder will have more opportunities this season.
How do the Dubs fix the rebounding problem? They have the length to be good rebounders and Steph is excellent for a point guard. How much is coaching vs. effort? — Bud.
The Warriors are 28th in the league in rebounding rate, including 26th in defensive rebounding rate and 27th in offensive rebounding rate. This is because the Warriors have only one good-to-elite rebounder in James Wiseman. Other than that, the team’s perimeter players could be more focused on pushing the pace and getting back on offense than crashing the boards. The lack of offensive rebounding could also be by design. Instead of crashing the offensive glass, the Warriors — who hope to be a top-10 defense in the league — run to get back on defense. It’s a strategy implemented by many defensive-minded teams. Remember: Everything in basketball is connected. It’s hard to be good at one thing without sacrificing something else.
This Warriors team goes as far as Steph and Draymond will take them. Wouldn’t it be better to add more spacing to the starting lineup to optimize Steph and Draymond? I think it would also be much better for Wiseman’s development. — Niko.
The problem with that is: What happens to the defense? There aren’t many Klay Thompson’s in the league, and only one on this team. Swap out Wiggins and Oubre for, say, Damion Lee and Mulder, and that doesn’t leave many great options to guard elite offensive players such as LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Steve Kerr said he wanted to coach a top-10 defense this season. All of his decisions so far have been related to accomplishing that mission statement.
Should the Warriors take a more modern approach with Wiseman’s development? Develop him more like Anthony Davis and Chris Bosh because he has that unicorn potential that could extend this dynasty. — @DubsPainTour.
Before Davis and Bosh were the Hall of Fame players they became, they mastered the basics. Bosh was an elite post scorer. Davis was an elite rebounder, finisher and rim-protector. It’s important to take a patient approach with Wiseman who, at 19, still needs to optimize those parts of his game. This will provide a foundation on which to build from, including 3-point shooting and switching on defense.
I’m wondering why Steph isn’t using the step back more. He can get it off whenever, and he hits them at a high rate. — @BrandoStarkey.
Curry is 18-of-33 (54.5%) on step back jumpers this season. Those 33 attempts, according to NBA.com’s Advanced Stats, are behind only typical jump shots and pull-up jumpers. For reference, James Harden, the patron saint of the step-back jump shot, has taken 64 such shots this season and is making them at a 42.2% clip. The Warriors want to play Curry off the ball often in order to conserve his energy throughout the season. However, when the team is in a pinch, the step back jumper has been as good an option as any.
Contributed by local news sources