I always tell my friends that when I'm able to figure out tweaks and changes that NBA coaching staffs are doing, they're either really good at their job or I'm simply awful at mine (if you count this as a job).
Most of what professional coaches implement are behind-the-scenes, away from the media and fans. This isn't to say that most are entirely competent at their job, as we take a look at the dumpster fire spreading through Los Angeles and New Orleans. But there's so much of what we do not, or cannot comprehend.
Teams have access to video and statistics that the normal person can only dream of procuring. That being said, the Steve Kerr and the Golden State Warriors are so obviously working on some lineup changes it's fascinating to keep track of and to note.
It's not newsworthy that the Warriors are on a 13-game win streak and annihilating teams more often than not. Part of this has to do with the weak schedule but they have also played excellent ball on offense and defense. In turn, this has allowed Steve Kerr and his coaching staff to try new things without jeopardizing the results. I'm not sure Kerr was expecting the season to be going this well, but the luxury of experimentation has been a direct result of the win-win situation.
Kerr did this with Brandon Rush in the beginning of the season as well. Knowing that Rush, and in this case Justin Holiday, wasn't able to create his own offense but had enough defensive potential to matter, he would insert them into the starting lineup at the end of halves or games. Unfortunately for Rush, he has been unable to hit even open threes so it appears as if Holiday has usurped him on the depth chart for now (Holiday even made one last night).
Holiday didn't do much on offense except stand in the corner, otherwise. The familiarity came on defense as Klay Thompson directed him on a switch to Andrew Wiggins making a cut to the wing. It's not a big moment but in a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency scenario, Holiday can use some minutes with the starters to garner some chemistry together.
There's the experimenting and then there's ingenuity.
The Draymond Green-Klay Thompson-Shaun Livingston-Andre Iguodala-Marreese Speights bench lineup has only accounted for just under 21 total minutes this season and appeared in seven games. On first blush, there are problems almost immediately. There isn't nearly enough shooting to spread the floor and woefully undersized at the forward positions to rebound the ball. However, and this is the best part, everyone is long as all hell. The shortest person is 6'6". And that person, Andre Iguodala is one of the league's best defenders with a 6'11" wingspan. By wingspan, the five go 7'1", 6'9", 6'11", 6'11", and terrific wingspan (never been measured), respectively.
They spent the tail end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth wreaking havoc on a Chicago Bulls squad that couldn't cope with the length and cohesiveness. With Green playing much bigger than he is and a combination of forward-sized guards swarming the perimeter, turnovers are more likely and the combined ability of all of them to crash mitigates the size deficiency of Speights. They leap to shut off passing lanes with stunning speed and length. It isn't just so much length and quickness but the Warriors defense does truly play on a string, communicating on the front and back end. I'd say that this is a mark of a veteran and great team but I've never seen one up close so you can clue me in.
The offense will likely remain a problem for this lineup but if they can cobble together enough open shots and find enough mismatches it could prove worthwhile. After an injury slowed Livingston to start the season, he's been automatic as a turnaround shooter in the post. It's a total mismatch with Derrick Rose attempting to chase and body up Livingston. With Taj Gibson playing out of position and worried about the post, Thompson loses Kirk Hinrich quick enough off a small screen to find an open shot. The best part is that it seems like a more impromptu play than anything. Green was merely standing before suddenly setting a screen, without much movement. The chemistry might not be there yet but there's hope for a lineup filled with excellent passers.
While Kerr, Alvin Gentry, and Ron Adams gets credit for overhauling the offense and lurching the defense into an even higher gear, here is more praise for the small things they're doing. There will be bad things I will break down soon, I think. For now, at 18-2, we can enjoy the hell out of what's happening from the coaches to the players.