The Golden State Warriors continued their preseason slate on Thursday night, welcoming the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Chase Center for the first time. One again, a depleted Warriors squad would be suiting up to play these preseason games as six players were listed on the inactive list. But Stephen Curry electrified the Chase Center crowd with some dazzling offense as the Warriors picked up the 143-123 win over the Timberwolves.
Curry looking like an MVP candidate
Curry is a trendy pick for the Most Valuable Player award heading into the 2019-20 regular season, given that he’ll have to carry so much of the load for the Warriors with Klay Thompson out until at least the All-Star break and Kevin Durant in Brooklyn. Curry certainly played like an MVP frontrunner on Thursday night, scoring 40 points in just 25 minutes of action while going 6/8 from three-point range.
Curry looked like he was already in mid-season form, easily embarrassing opposing defenders like he did on this three-pointer early in the third quarter.
Too easy for Steph pic.twitter.com/7EGuRGbpqY— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) October 11, 2019
In addition to those 40 points, which went along with his 6 assists and 6 rebounds, what stood out about Curry’s game was how quick and spry he looked both with the ball and without it. Curry’s play was indicative of someone who knows that he needs to control the game if the Warriors are going to do well. It looked like Curry understands this and thus he’s prepared for the regular season with that in mind. We could be getting something akin to the 2015 or 2016 versions of Curry on the court this season, a prospect that must be terrifying to the rest of the teams in the league.
Robinson III continues to make a place for himself on the Warriors
Glenn Robinson III was in the starting lineup for this preseason matchup and the seventh-year veteran was able to capitalize in that starting role. Robinson III played with energy, pushing the ball and attacking the basket, on his way to a 13-point, 5-rebound performance.
Absolutely love what I'm seeing from GR3 so far. pic.twitter.com/ckw0BP1RXJ— Chris Montano (@gswchris) October 11, 2019
Earlier this week, I wrote about what Robinson III might offer this Warriors team. You saw the best version of Robinson III, the one that GM Bob Myers and the Warriors front office were hoping for when they signed him this off-season, against the Timberwolves. Once the Warriors get a little bit more healthy at that wing position (particularly once they get Thompson back), having a player like Robinson III on the roster will be a good asset. Depth has been an issue for the Warriors the past few seasons but with a player like Robinson III on the bench, it might not be so much of a problem anymore.
Chriss might play his way onto the team
Only recently added to the team, Marquese Chriss was also inserted into Thursday night’s starting lineup. Chriss, the number eight pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, was not only given ample playing time (20 minutes), he made the most of it as scored scored 8 points while also grabbing 11 rebounds in the preseason victory.
Quite a few of those buckets came courtesy of an assist from D’Angelo Russell (who had five assists in Thursday night’s preseason win).
D’Angelo Russell building some chemistry with Marquese Chriss pic.twitter.com/fvPG7b2MsD— Logan Murdock (@loganmmurdock) October 11, 2019
Chriss could give the Warriors another solid pick-and-roll option to go with Willie Cauley-Stein (once he returns from injury). The Warriors have been missing a big man who can finish well at the basket since JaVale McGee left to join the Los Angeles Lakers. In Chriss and the injured Cauley-Stein, the Warriors have some players on their roster who might be able to fill that void.
But beyond his scoring, Chriss did quite a few little things that stood out and showed why Warriors players would lobby Myers to keep him on the roster. Whether it was setting screens to get players open looks at jump shots or making passes like these, Chriss seems to be doing a good job of fitting in on this Warriors squad.
Chriss really tried the patented Zaza between-the-legs dime— Chris Montano (@gswchris) October 11, 2019
Warriors gotta keep him now pic.twitter.com/yQFG5TZ12y
Maybe McGee is the perfect comparison for Chriss—a reclamation project, someone cast aside as a bust and a joke, who comes to the Warriors and is able to reach his potential as a part of this team because of its special culture and environment.
It is still remarkably early and no one knows what will happen (the Warriors might decide to move on from Chriss in the next couple of days) but Chriss has shown enough for astute basketball watchers to be at least a little bit intrigued by what he could do.
Trouble ahead for McKinnie?
Between Chriss and Robinson III’s play, things are looking a little bit dicey for Alfonzo McKinnie. With Robinson III and Alec Burks (who missed his second-consecutive preseason game with a right ankle sprain), the Warriors have options to play on the wing (even more so once Thompson returns from his injury).
If they feel confident enough in Robinson III and Burks (along with rookie Jordan Poole, whose game looks like it’s going to translate somewhat smoothly to the NBA as he scored 19 points against the Timberwolves) and want to give Chriss a real chance, moving on from McKinnie might be the way to go. Now it’s only the second preseason game so there’s a long, long way to go but it is a situation worth monitoring.
The Warriors’ preseason resumes on Monday night as they travel down to Staples Center to face off against LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers.