Warriors Dealing With Potentially Irreversible Woes


The Golden State Warriors are going through a very rough patch, especially at home.

The starting lineup has struggled so much this season that it begs the question for Kerr to shuffle the rotation this early in the season. It is true that eleven games is not a big-enough sample size to assume what is to come, but it is large enough to be concerned about the process and approach of the team.

The Warriors have lost three in a row against legitimate playoff teams. They are 1-4 in their last five, including two losses to the Cavaliers in the span of six days.

It’s no secret that the Warriors have plenty of issues to fix. The real hurdle is how they choose to solve them. It involves some difficult decisions to be made by Steve Kerr and his coaching staff. The minutes distribution they have been going with has to be in question in the near future.

Lineup Struggles

Golden State is facing a unique problem in terms of the supplemental scoring behind Stephen Curry. No one besides him has managed to score more than 20 points, and it’s pretty alarming. It’s a deeper issue considering their other “reliable” scoring options entering the season are the ones struggling the most as of late.

Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins — the latter of whom is in a major slump — have not been playing like they are expected to on a regular basis.

For two veterans the Warriors absolutely need to be playing well to contend for a title, what they’re doing is not going to cut it. What was one of the best starting lineups in all of basketball the last two seasons, has to rely on a 35-year-old Curry to pick up the pieces. And while the superstar guard can do that, he shouldn’t have to take on that burden all season.

According to Cleaning the Glass, of all of the lineups with at least 160 possessions played, the Warriors’ starting lineup is 14th out of the 15 lineups, with a +/- of -11.5. This is worse than other teams’ starters like Detroit and Washington, who are at -10.2 and -2.6, respectively. Curry is playing at his usual level, averaging 30.7 points on 48.8% FG and 44.6% 3FG.

The Wings Have to Pick it Up

For this lineup to get back to what it once was, Thompson and Wiggins have to play better on both ends. They are also two players that get a good amount of run with the second unit. After starting the season shot-hunting, Thompson was able to play within the offense more. But recently, the shooting numbers just aren’t there.

The shots we’re used to seeing fall aren’t falling. In the last four games, he’s 8/31 from three.

Shot creation is much more difficult with his physical abilities nowadays, so the shots he’ll get for the rest of the season won’t change. The shooting from distance will come around, but there are too many sloppy mistakes made by him as well.

He’s been throwing lazy passes that create easy transition opportunities for the opponent, like in the first clip from this video:

Not to mention, he missed a point-blank layup that would have continued a key run late against the Timberwolves.

Harping on a first-ballot Hall of Famer’s mental miscues may be nitpicking, but these mistakes that are costing the Warriors in serious ways. It’s emphasized even more when guys like Moses Moody aren’t making those same mistakes, while adding another element when given opportunities.

On the other hand, Andrew Wiggins has entered a dark place this season. Every part of his offensive game is nonexistent, and the struggles are building on each other.

He can’t hit a shot.

Wiggins is shooting an abysmal 16.7% 3FG and 52.9% FT. Shaq shot 52.7% from the line for his career.

Yeah, not great.

These two aspects of his game are affecting his shot selection, confidence and overall willingness to be aggressive on offense. The previous two seasons he has shot around 39% from three, so you would hope this is just a slump. Either way, the Warriors need both Thompson and Wiggins to shoot better starting a week ago.

Wiggins has flashed some impact on the glass as of late with a couple of put-back dunks, but that’s all the Warriors can be slightly happy about with Wiggins’ play this season, and that’s a very low bar to meet.

Possible Adjustments to Make

If the starting wing tandem is struggling early in a game, it would be nice to see Kerr lean on the bench more.

Enter Moses Moody. Moody has only played more than 20 minutes twice this season. One of the games was their first road game in Sacramento, where he shot 4-for-5 from the field and had three steals. He had a +/- of +11. The other was in a game at New Orleans in which he started. Thompson and Jonathan Kuminga were both out, so Moody got his chance. He had 13 points, shot 5-for-8 with four assists, and was +18 for the game.

He does a lot of other things than shoot threes and hustle on defense. He’s involved on the glass, knows where to be on both ends, and has a calming presence to his game. The veterans on the team have always raved about his approach to the game being similar to a 10-year vet. Even in only 14 minutes against the Nuggets last Wednesday, he had 10 points, made two threes and made an impact on defense.

In the first game against the Timberwolves, Thompson played 33 minutes and Moody only had 13. Thompson shot 5-for-16 from the field and had trouble keeping guys in front of him on defense. These performances have to make Kerr go to Moody more early and often.

Can I Interest You in a Rookie?

Trayce Jackson-Davis should be in the rotation. It’s safe to say now that Dario Šarić as the lone big can’t be the play, especially against bigger teams. The Warriors just came off three-straight losses against three teams with great bigs, so it hasn’t looked great recently.

But there is absolutely no rim protection if he is the only guy out there. He’s a great pick-and-roll partner for Chris Paul, but there has to be another option at center. Šarić can’t be expected to win the rebounding and points in the paint battle.

Since his first minutes on the floor in preseason, TJD has been making an impact. He adds components that the team lacks because of the roster construction. TJD is already their best vertical spacer since probably the days of JaVale McGee? Kevon Looney, Draymond Green, and Šarić are all in front of the rookie in the rotation, but Kerr has to look his way when they need more pop at the center spot.

He’s athletic, knows the system, and provides youthful energy the team is desperate for.

In this next clip, you can see how his roll off the dribble handoff makes Christian Braun end up way too far in the paint, giving up the open corner three to who? Moses Moody.

It’s Still Early

Overall, these are all early-season issues. If these were problems happening later in the season, it would be a much bigger concern. The shooting should come around, as long as they’re still doing the other things that contribute to winning, like rebounding, defense and decision-making.

On the other hand, if this is a trend that continues to happen into December, it will cause a lot of serious questioning on the direction this roster is taking them. The Warriors’ core is now in their mid-30s, while Chris Paul is turning 39 this season.

It’s an early predicament for a team hungry for more hardware. Let’s see how they can quickly rally and get back on track.

About Christian Oblena

Born in San Francisco, raised in the East Bay, lifelong Bay Area sports fan. Here to give my own opinions on everything Dubs.

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