Another Golden State Warriors season is rapidly approaching, so it’s a good time to look at the pressing questions facing the team.
You had them, and I answered them. To the best of my ability, at least.
Nothing is finalized, but that is certainly the direction the team is leaning in. A month ago, Steve Kerr was asked by The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami about who would start in Klay Thompson’s absence, and Kerr responded, “My gut reaction is Jordan Poole.”
Poole proved to be a key member of the team by the end of last season, and by all accounts has had a strong offseason further developing his game. My guess is he gets the nod until Klay returns.
– On opening night, who do you think will be the typical starting 5, assuming everyone else outside of Klay is healthy ?
– Do you think Bjelica can start at center sometimes ?
— Geraldo Hill (@FWI_Warrior) September 9, 2021
I would assume the starting five will be Steph Curry, Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, and Kevon Looney.
I don’t expect Nemanja Bjelica to get many starts, but I definitely think they’d be comfortable putting him in there, especially in the right matchup. I do expect him to get plenty of minutes at the 5 off the bench, though.
What are the roles for Wiseman, Kuminga, and Moody in the rotation? Is it safe to assume Wiseman is the starter over Looney? How do Kuminga and Moody consistently get playing time, especially the latter?
— Jorge Rivera Marín (@rbc12steps) September 9, 2021
No, I don’t think it’s safe to assume that James Wiseman starts. In fact, I’d be pretty surprised. The Warriors were pretty awful last year when Wiseman was on the court, and unfortunately he’s been robbed of a normal offseason.
They learned their lesson about trying to toe the line between development and winning, and with Klay returning this year, I think they’ll be highly prioritizing the latter. So I expect Kevon Looney to start, and truthfully I think that Wiseman will have a very tiny role until he proves ready for something bigger.
And honestly? A tiny role for Wiseman is more than I expect for Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody out of the gates. Kerr has already been transparent that he won’t rush this year’s prospects the way he did with Wiseman last year. That, combined with the team’s dreams of contention, mixed with a pretty solid bench, means I don’t think we’ll see Kuminga or Moody playing meaningful minutes for quite a while, unless in little toe-wetting three-to-four minute bursts.
That said, Moody has a fairly NBA-ready game, especially with his fluid jumper. He looks like he’s pretty close to contributing on defense already. If he can prove to understand and work in Kerr’s read-and-react motion system — not an easy task for anyone, let alone a rookie — he could get minutes sooner rather than later.
WTF are the Warriors going to do if/when Looney gets hurt?
— Mendo Bruce (@mendobruce) September 9, 2021
The Warriors didn’t add another center this offseason, and weren’t ever even linked to one. Which tells us one of two things: either they’re high on James Wiseman’s ability to contribute this season, or they’re comfortable playing small ball with Draymond Green, Nemanja Bjelica, and Juan Toscano-Anderson playing a bit of the 5.
I suspect it’s more of the latter than the former, especially since Wiseman didn’t have an offseason. So if Looney gets injured, I suspect we’ll see JTA slide into the starting position, with Bjelica getting some minutes there as well. And yes, perhaps a bigger role for Wiseman.
There had to be a reason why Marquese Chriss wasn’t brought back, but for the life of me I can’t figure it out. What’s the internal talk around that decision? We’re thin at the 4/5 position and Quese is young, long, athletic, familiar and can be a force with that second unit
— Terrence X (@GoldDiamonds__) September 9, 2021
Full disclosure: I’m not privy to what the internal discussions there are. But if I had to guess, it’s a combination of feeling more comfortable playing with smaller options like Juan Toscano-Anderson and Nemanja Bjelica, and feeling like Chriss’ skillset is a little redundant with James Wiseman on the roster, even if Chriss is the better player.
I agree that Chriss could be awesome with the second unit. But I also think JTA and Bjelica are simply better players, and there’s only so many frontcourt minutes to go around.
I’ve seen a lot of talk about starters (personally, I like Lee to start until Klay is ready); however, my question is about the finishers… is Iguodola still viable there, is JTA the guy (or maybe Porter?)… who (outside of the obvious) finishes games this year?
— Fairways & Freeways (@fnf2017) September 9, 2021
This is a great question and truthfully, I think we’re all shooting in the dark a little bit here. I don’t think Steve Kerr would be able to tell you the answer, even if you fed him truth serum.
Andre Iguodala is a gigantic question mark here — if he’s anything like the Iguodala who last donned a Dubs jersey, he’s a lock for the closing lineup. But if he’s more like Miami Iggy, he probably isn’t.
When Klay Thompson returns, I think the most common closing lineup will be a small ball look of Steph Curry, Jordan Poole, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, and Draymond Green. Until then, I think they’ll likely go with JTA and the four healthy ones, but I could see Iguodala, Nemanja Bjelica, Kevon Looney, and Otto Porter Jr. all working their way into that lineup.
Probably will be a little matchup dependent, but a good problem to have.
Has Dejan Milojevic started work with the team (and specifically with Wiseman) yet? If not, what’s his timetable for arrival?
— David Savage (@david_t_savage) September 9, 2021
Great question. Truthfully, I haven’t heard anything about the timeline for DeJan Milojević, though this is usually the time of the year when developmental coaches are really putting in work with players, so I would expect that he’s already here.
I don’t believe James Wiseman has returned to on-court activities yet, so if he’s done work with Milojević it’s probably relatively minor.
Will Klay be back to his normal self next season
— Dev ♋️ (@DmcTheOriginal) September 9, 2021
That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?
Here’s what I’ll say: modern medicine is brilliant. In the last two years, we’ve seen two of the best basketball players in the world — Kevin Durant and Breanna Stewart — return from Achilles tears and look like they didn’t miss a beat.
Every NBA player needs their athleticism, but Klay Thompson isn’t as reliant on it as many players, and he could be an all-world shooter with one leg. So I like his odds.
I expect to see a fair amount of Moses Moody, Jonathan Kuminga, and James Wiseman on the Santa Cruz Warriors this season. Given the team’s depth and their aspirations, it makes sense to get those players consistent minutes in the G League. Besides … look what it did for Jordan Poole last year!
They going to bring back Thunder for one home game?
— Matthew D. M. Smith (@eMDeeeMeS) September 9, 2021
Sadly I think that ship has sailed. The Oklahoma City Thunder being a thing has I think made it a copyright issue.
Will the warriors regret not getting Simmons if Klays defense is not the same?
— Wesley Arias (@WesleyArias9) September 9, 2021
Well, I tried to avoid the Ben Simmons topic, because I know how popular it is around these parts. But I couldn’t avoid it, so I did the next best thing, and saved it for last.
No, I don’t think they’ll regret not getting Simmons if Klay Thompson’s defense isn’t where it used to be. Why? Because they were a damn good defensive team last year, especially at the end of the season, without Klay.
Simmons is an all-world defender, and he would no doubt help Golden State’s defense. But if your starting lineup has Draymond Green, Kevon Looney, and Andrew Wiggins, and you bring Juan Toscano-Anderson, Andre Iguodala, Otto Porter Jr., Damion Lee, and potentially Gary Payton II off the bench, your defense will be really good.
That’s not to say they won’t regret passing on a potential Simmons trade. But I doubt for that reason.
It is fun to dream about a Dray and Simmons defensive pairing though, isn’t it?