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Warriors discover their true depth after putting the Kings in a grave

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Jordan Bell, Nick Young, Patrick McCaw and a number of other reserve players showcase their skills in helping bring the Warriors a victory in their final preseason game.

NBA: Preseason-Sacramento Kings at Golden State Warriors
Jordan Bell rings the Kings’ bell with a slam.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into the final exhibition game, there wasn’t really much left for the team to figure out for the Golden State Warriors.

Rotations were mostly set and roles defined. However, with the shortened preseason, Steve Kerr was looking forward to using this last game as a nice tuneup.

But with some of the Warriors’ core guys sitting out due to minor injuries, the focus for the game switched to getting the bench and younger guys some burn. We had a few players shooting poorly, and this would hopefully get them the necessary minutes to work through their struggles.

Luckily for us, everybody seemed to have squared away their shooting woes by the time the final buzzer rang. And what could have been a snoozer turned into an exciting game that highlighted just how deep this Warriors team really has become.

Did Nick Young rediscover his swag?

Short Answer: Partially

For the first three games of the preseason, Nick Young looked a bit out of sorts on the offensive end. It was expected that Young would take some time to find his place in an offensive system that is mostly unstructured and instead relies on quick reads and cuts. But one of the main reasons why the team signed Young was for his ability to shoot the long-ball at an honorary Splash Brother rate.

Coming into last night’s game, he couldn’t have been any further from that level, shooting 30% from deep and 33% overall.

But with multiple starters sitting out due to injuries, Young got the nod to start yesterday, granting him more opportunities to shake off that offseason rust and to show some acclimation.

Unfortunately, in his first quarter stint he didn’t display any more comfort inside the Warriors’ offense. Barring the limited touches due to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson’s hot starts, on the few occasions Young found himself with the ball he either clanked a pull-up jumper off the dribble (important to note) or stopped the team’s ball movement by picking up his dribble too early.

From my perspective, when it came to picking up his dribble, it appeared to be an aid in allowing him to make the proper reads on the cuts other Warriors were making. This will most likely become a non-factor as the season progresses and his familiarity with the offense and his teammates grows.

However, when it came to shooting, Young looked incredibly off-balance. This appeared to be caused by his decision to opt for pull-up jumpers, something Bob Fitzgerald and Jim Barnett pointed out during their coverage of the game.

Young wouldn’t hit his first shot until midway through the second quarter. Unsurprisingly, it came off of a catch-and-shoot situation.

This would be the theme of the game, as Young would finish with 15 points on 5-for-14 shooting (5-for-9 on 3-pointers). Every single one of his missed shots, save for one, were of the pull-up jumper variety. Every make was a catch-and-shoot.

Here are Young’s shooting statistics from last season broken down by shot-type.

FG% 3P% EFG%
Pull-up 33.6 38.4 46.7
Catch-and-shoot 44.3 44.2 65.4

It may be important to note that everyone shoots more poorly on pull-up jumpers — they are simply more difficult. By comparison, the disparity between his EFG% in both situations nearly amounts to the same drop-off Thompson had last season.

The following is a table detailing his shooting performance after any number of dribbles.

Number of dribbles Freq 3P%
0 46.4% 43.3%
1 12.5% 41.8%
2 2.9% 16.7%
3-6 4.6% 24.1%
7+ 0.3% 0.0%

As detailed above, Young trended towards more catch-and-shoot situations last season, taking almost half of his shots without a single dribble. That and his shooting percentage after a single dribble is still really good at 41.8%. So all of this may be moot and his poor performances and shot selection may just be the result of trying to fit into a new team mixed with some rust.

Yet the Warriors system is built upon maximizing their players’ talents. And so in any context, the less Young dribbles the ball, the better it should be for the team overall. Plus, considering he was the third best catch-and-shoot guy last year, it’d be prudent for him to take full advantage of that portion of his skill-set.

Kerr already noted as much. So just let it fly Swaggy. Let it fly.

Especially considering the monsters we have lying in wait to grab any missed shots...

For whom does the Bell toll?

Short Answer: Everyone. He’s the real deal folks.

Golden State Warriors Media Day
Don’t let the smile fool you. He’s a killer.
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

This guy is a monster.

I’ll preface this by saying I’m indeed a huge Jordan Bell homer and, as such, take full responsibility for any bias that may leak through after this point.

But jeez, this guy just continues to look better and better.

Like Young, Bell got the nod for his first starting stint with the Warriors. It shouldn’t have been too much of a shock considering how impressive he has played so far. But it went to show the growing confidence the coaching staff has behind him, especially seeing as how he received the starting bid over Kevon Looney.

Bell wouldn’t disappoint. He picked up his first double-double (10 PTS, 11 REB) in just 24 minutes, which he played with a energy that was calm and collected, something rarely displayed by rookies.

FG Off Def Reb Ast Stl Blk TO +/- Pts
5-8 4 7 11 4 2 2 1 +13 10

One thing that definitively stands out with Bell is his court vision. The angles he takes and the timing he has may not be fully detailed by any stat sheet, but they certainly play a large role in how he effects the game. Last week, Apricot covered Bell’s impressive aptitude in running the pick-and-roll, and that was on full display last night for a number of possessions.

Once again, Bell was all over the boards on both ends of the court, hauling down four offensive rebounds and eleven overall. He also captured a sequel to his put-back highlight in China with this beauty.

He must be earning those 2K VC points, as he showcased some offensive moves we hadn’t seen from him yet like this nice drop-step to the bucket.

Defensively, he continued to look very solid. The amount of skilled weak-side blockers we had on the team prior to Bell joining was already full to the brim. Now we’re just foaming over the edge. I wonder if the media will still be talking about “rim protection” as a problem when it comes to the Warriors this year.

If there was one thing to nitpick about him defensively, it would be about his tendency to reach in for the pick. Both of his foul calls came on unnecessary reach-ins and I saw a few other instances where he’d riskily extend his arm to poke the ball away. Of course, those were his only foul calls though, so it could be argued that he played those possessions aggressively only because he had the leeway to.

Ok, ok. I admit I just threw that in here to try to paint myself as less of a homer.

What interesting rotations may we see during the season?

Short Answer: Umm...hmm...not sure...you should probably ask Fake Steve Kerr.

There were a few points in last night’s game when Kerr played Bell next to Javale McGee which proved to be an tantalizing combination. Bell’s passing skills are savvy enough for him to be the fulcrum on the offensive end in the same manner that Draymond Green and David West operate. But he is also bouncy enough to act as a second rim-runner next to McGee, giving the lineup a Lob City type of potential.

The Warriors already thrive off of utilizing decoys in a number of ways to free up shooters and back-cutters. If they can find more ways to set up the players who stretch the floor vertically, it presents a whole other big-man dynamic that Kerr will be able to experiment with throughout the season.

Will McCaw suffer from a sophomore slump?

Short Answer: Nope, it appears he flew the poop coop he was trapped in.

McCaw did start the game off just as ice cold as he was in each of the previous preseason games. However with Curry and Thompson relieved from duty in the second half, McCaw was able to put up a barrage of shots and seemed to literally shoot himself out of his cold streak.

He ended the game with 17 points (7-for-15 FG & 3-for-7 3PT).

But even while he was cold, he still continued to do all the things on the defensive end and hustle plays that make him special.

Is Curry still on fire?

Short Answer: When did he ever stop being so?

Let’s just say:

Steph Curry stephortlessly stephened all over the stepphing court.

I know it’s a long-shot — no pun intended — but I really want Curry to break his record of 402 3-pointers this year.

He looks primed to torch the league.

Yesterday, he scored 18 points (6-for-12 FG & 4-for-6 3PT) in 18 minutes and called it a night. I wasn’t sure if that was the plan all along or if it had something to do with him almost rolling his ankle before the end of the first half. Before the broadcast had cut to commercials, you could see and hear Curry shout out to somebody that he almost rolled his ankle.

Thankfully, the injury bug skipped him over

Wait, but didn’t somebody get injured?

Short Answer: Yeah, unfortunately.

Sometimes your worst enemy is yourself. That came true for Omri Casspi last night as he sprained his ankle on a misstep.

It appears it’s not anything serious, so he might be still ready to go for the home-opener.

Who was the biggest surprise of the night?

Short Answer: Kevon Looney.

Kevon Looney looked more spry than ever before. He was very active on the boards and had a few nice buckets that showcased his athleticism and strength. If he can stay healthy and maintain the level of production he displayed yesterday, I’d love to see him get some minutes to showcase his skills. Hopefully he can find a way to stay in the league after his contract is up next year.

How do we look entering the regular season?

Short Answer: Banged up, yet still lethal.

There’s some minor injuries up and down the roster. But nevertheless this Warriors team looks ready to do some damage in its quest for back-to-back championships.

According to Kerr, Curry looks even better than he did two seasons ago — his unanimous MVP year — and his preseason performance seems to confirm that.

We’re bringing back the same core and the continuity in doing so already sets us apart from the league.

On top of that, our depth is certainly improved. Last season, the Warriors bench ranked second to last when it came to 3-pointers made. Especially now that Young has found his stroke from outside, we can expect a decent improvement in that department. Plus we have Casspi, who showed during his playing time that he fits in very well with this Warriors system.

And finally, we have a stable of exciting young players who, beyond giving us some interesting talent to develop, are already able to contribute at a high-level.

I can’t believe the season is finally here. Four more days until a newly minted championship banner drops in Oracle and the journey for yet another begins.

We. Are. Ready.

Sources

NBA Stats

Game coverage on Yahoo Sports

Poll

Who was the Warrior Wonder for their final preseason win?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    Stephen Curry
    (341 votes)
  • 0%
    Klay Thompson
    (11 votes)
  • 2%
    Nick Young
    (52 votes)
  • 71%
    Jordan Bell
    (1505 votes)
  • 0%
    Zaza Pachulia
    (11 votes)
  • 0%
    David West
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Omri Casspi
    (13 votes)
  • 2%
    Kevon Looney
    (58 votes)
  • 0%
    Georges Niang
    (15 votes)
  • 0%
    Javale McGee
    (6 votes)
  • 0%
    Damian Jones
    (6 votes)
  • 1%
    Patrick McCaw
    (41 votes)
  • 0%
    Shaun Livingston
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    Michael Gbinije
    (37 votes)
2101 votes total Vote Now