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David West’s injury creates opportunity for Warriors’ seldom-used bigs

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With David West slated to miss at least two weeks with a fractured thumb, the Warriors must adopt ‘next man up’ mentality.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

OAKLAND, Calif. — Only three players on Golden State’s roster have appeared in each of the Golden State Warriors’ 42 games played this season. Former MVPs Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant have yet to miss a game which, for better or worse, is not too surprising.

But the third member of this iron-man trio? Former All-Star David West, age 36. Despite averaging only 11 minutes per game, West has made an appearance in every Warriors’ game this season.

But that will change come Friday.

According to the team, West suffered a non-displaced fracture of his left thumb in the Warriors’ 121-100 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night. There is currently no time table for his return, but he will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

It is hard to pinpoint when West suffered the injury but it looks like it occurred on a screen set by Kyle Singler with just under eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. After being momentarily knocked off-balance, West proceeded to take a big swipe at the driving Russell Westbrook with his right hand. But appeared to look at his left hand in discomfort after the play.

Golden State called a timeout after the play and West was immediately subbed out for Zaza Pachulia.

“It’s a big loss,” Head Coach Steve Kerr said of West’s injury. “David has been fantastic; he’s playing so well. He’s really a big part of our second unit.”

West has played an integral part in the Warriors’ second unit success this season. His incredible vision and passing skillset allow much of the offense to be run through him in the high-post.

“You may see us change our rotation a little bit, but we’ll have to talk about it and figure it out,” added Kerr.

West’s injury will likely not affect the Warriors too much in the grand scheme of things. It will, however, free up minutes for players like Kevon Looney, who has played a total of 18 minutes over the last 10 games.

Looney has shown flashes in limited time this season, but he has not received the type of consistent minutes that would allow him to really settle into a rhythm. His best performance came against the Brooklyn Nets when he made a spot start for Draymond Green, who was attending the birth of his child. In 17 minutes of play, Looney grabbed 6 rebounds, dished out 5 assists and recorded 1 block and 1 steal, to go along with 4 points.

We should also expect to see more of fan favorite Anderson Varejao.

“It’s definitely going to switch some things up,” Draymond Green said, after the win. “Definitely going to hurt a little bit to not have him there but it’s an opportunity for other guys to step up. Andy [Anderson Varejao] will probably get some minutes now, [Kevon] Looney will get some minutes now. You’ve got to be ready for the opportunity and step in until he’s back.”

Green also said that West has been playing amazingly for the Warriors over the last few weeks and that the 14-year NBA veteran has been a steady force for the team.

West, who plans to travel with the team during his recovery process, told reporters that it’s about getting healthy and maintaining the current momentum that the Warriors have established over the last few weeks.

“We’re a deep team, so next man up,” West said. He is currently averaging 12.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists per 36 minutes of play.

It will be interesting to see how Kerr tinkers with the second-unit rotations. We could possibly see more of Draymond Green in a distributor role with the reserves to make up for West’s size and passing ability.


Andrew Flohr is the credentialed writer for GSoM. You can follow him along at every Warriors’ home game on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.