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Warrior Wonder: Nick Young’s feel-good shimmy in front of the OKC bench

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The Warriors got big contributions from a number of players in their win against the Thunder, but Nick Young’s performance was probably the most pleasant surprise of them all.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Thompson of The Athletic wrote a thought-provoking piece about the role of Draymond Green in fostering a sense of “engaged will” that the Golden State Warriors have struggled to muster throughout this 2017-18 NBA season.

Oklahoma City had smacked the Warriors around twice. A third time would’ve certainly given the Thunder a psychological advantage. The Warriors simply couldn’t let that happen...This game, they were led by the spirit of Draymond. This was about flipping the switch and showing they can still flip the switch. Not with 3-pointers, but with their intensity...It’s been a long time since the Warriors brought it like that. Saturday’s game wasn’t an outpouring of their considerable talent but a display of their engaged will.

As Patrick Murray wrote in his article here at Golden State of Mind earlier today, the Thunder “...are uniquely built to exploit the Warriors’ biggest weaknesses - a penchant for sloppy turnovers and a lack of rebounding prowess.”

Statistically, the Warriors didn’t truly overcome either of those issues of rebounding and turnovers. Although the Warriors won the offensive rebounding battle (29.3% to 25%), they still gave up 17 second chance points — that’s above the Thunder’s league-leading 15 second chance points per game. They won the turnover battle, but still made their fair share of somewhat avoidable turnovers nonetheless. Thompson also noted that, “The Warriors weren’t especially spectacular on offense. They only topped 30 in one quarter.”

This was a win that the Warriors had to earn during an era when we’ve come to expect dominance at home; yes, it ended in a blowout, but they had to strip the Thunder of their confidence before imposing their will on them.

Yes, that was a very Draymondian win and in that spirit, he probably should be Warrior Wonder. Yet it was also nice to have a little swag.

Nick Young’s defense on Russell Westbrook

In the spirit of Draymond Green though, Nick Young’s defensive performance against the Thunder last night just can’t be overlooked. viggy at the Mercury’s Fast Break blog mentioned Young’s defense as a significant part of their “defensive excellence” last night.

The defensive excellence this game wasn’t even a case of destroyer Draymond Green covering for other players’ lapses: Nick Young, on more than one occasion, played good to great defense on Russell Westbrook, proving that you can indeed teach an old dog new tricks. The Warriors were, simply put, active and enlivened on the defensive side of the ball, and that focus tided them over until the offense got into gear.”

Stats aside, that was probably the thing that stood out — it was one of a handful of times that I’ve been watching games this season and thought to myself, “OK NICK YOUNG! I SEE YOU PLAYING D!” And that, complemented by his offense, made this a great game for him.

Nick Young gets under OKC’s skin

I’m not going to say that last night’s win was Nick Young’s best game as a Warrior, but it was quite possibly one of his most significant games in that he made contributions when it really mattered. Sure, half of Young’s minutes and half of his 16 points (on 5-for-10 shooting) came in the fourth quarter when the outcome of the game was no longer in doubt. And I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Young actually sparked

Ok, let me stop playing — the ultimate troll, beyond finishing with more points than anyone on the Thunder roster, was being the reserve who shimmies in front of the opposing bench after hitting a three when you’re playing with four All-Stars who have taken turns carrying the team all season.

It’s reckless showboating, wholly unnecessary when you’re beating a team down on your home floor, and, dare I say, arrogant as hell.

But, as much as I find that type of behavior sort of grating (I grew up as a San Francisco 49ers fan who really enjoyed the whole win with class or “act live you’ve been there before” thing), I think I really needed to see the Warriors stomp the Thunder and ceremoniously dance on their heads to remind people of whose league this is right now.

As Young said in his postgame presser, it was just a “Dance Fever” kind of night.

A much-needed beatdown

The Warriors are not done. The Warriors do not need a veteran defender who nearly comes to blows with a coach to right the ship — been there, done that, right? I’m not even sure the seeding heading into the playoffs really matters that much either, though I will be rooting for them to get the first seed because ...why wouldn’t you want that if it’s attainable?

Ultimately, the Warriors will still strike fear into the hearts of every opponent they face this postseason. The one team that is arguably the worst matchup for them was just publicly sacrificed in front of a national audience for the sake of sending the message.

So let’s just be honest: we watch sports to be entertained and when your team is struggling for a bit, you want a sign that they’re out of the funk. Beating a team that’s had their number is a sign. Watching them blow them out is sort of cathartic.

That win just felt good and I can’t blame Young for wanting to dance a little. Those who are prone to be mad at that can stay mad.

Poll

Who was your Warrior Wonder in the rout of the Thunder?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Steph Curry
    (279 votes)
  • 17%
    Kevin Durant
    (191 votes)
  • 8%
    Draymond Green
    (96 votes)
  • 3%
    Klay Thompson
    (36 votes)
  • 2%
    JaVale McGee
    (26 votes)
  • 3%
    Zaza Pachulia
    (35 votes)
  • 3%
    Andre Iguodala
    (36 votes)
  • 34%
    Nick Young
    (366 votes)
  • 0%
    David West
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    Shaun Livingston
    (6 votes)
1076 votes total Vote Now