It’s difficult to get much value from a game like this.
It felt like a throwback to the games of yore. The Los Angeles Lakers are once again the bullies of the NBA, and the Golden State Warriors (playing extremely short-handed, on top of an already depleted roster) are not.
Lakers are back, for better or worse
In the age of roster-hopping superstars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis will still stand out as one of the sillier pairings you could imagine. Both are extremely long, agile, and big. The combination of size, power, and basketball IQ is going to be a conundrum that most teams aren’t going to have the personnel to solve. Mix JaVale mcGee in, and an enormous lineup of death emerges. It doesn’t even really matter how nondescript the guards are - though Quinn Cook did shine as a smart ball handler with a good eye for high quality shots - the frontcourt of this iteration of the Lakers is an all-time pairing.
This game was over at halftime, if not earlier.
LeBron James (16 PTS, 6 AST) and the @Lakers lead GSW at the break on ESPN. #NBAPreseason— NBA (@NBA) October 17, 2019
Dwight Howard: 13 PTS, 5 REB
Quinn Cook: 13 PTS, 3 3PM
D'Angelo Russell: 12 PTS, 3 AST pic.twitter.com/snkiRkTkP6
Without such a significant chunk of our roster, these preseason games aren’t good for much. That said, there are some positional battles that are worth watching, and some indicative plays that show how this team can work in the modern NBA.
D’Angelo Russell pick and roll
Russell finally got hot (23 points on 7 for 11 shooting from the floor in 27 minutes) Russell could be an excellent facilitator on offense - if his teammates can hit their shots. With both he and Stephen Curry on the floor, it’s going to be extremely difficult for teams to keep track of the two shooters, which will free up the Warriors rim runners and cutters.
In the first play of the game, we saw a designed play run for hopeful Warrior, Marquese Chriss - all of this is set up from the threat of Russell off the dribble:
D’Angelo Russell will operate in probably 400+ p&rs this season, most often at start of 2nd/4th quarters. Did it successfully with Marquese Chriss here, expect it most with Willie Cauley-Stein pic.twitter.com/7CPw5oQcwa— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 17, 2019
As Anthony Slater points out, this is going to be one of those plays that can be used to slot in a bunch of different people. The Warriors have intentionally included some big men who can easily fill the cutter role on this play. Here we saw Chriss, but expect to see Russell used alongside various big men in plays like this all season long.
Speaking of Chriss, he was good enough (8 points and 5 rebounds) to strengthen his case for a roster spot: . Check out the ball movement here as he hits a three pointer. Though Chriss only shot around 31% last season, the willingness to take these shots can be helpful - even more so when planning to play alongside Draymond Green and Kevon Looney, neither of whom is known as any sort of outside shooting threat.
Marquese Chriss hitting 3s too?! pic.twitter.com/aB6QxNS4sO— Chris Montano (@gswchris) October 17, 2019
Draymond Green went 2 for 9 in the first quarter.
Draymond Green only took seven shots combined the first two preseason games. Came out jacking tonight: Nine first quarter shots. Only made two.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 17, 2019
We know that the team is going to need some additional scoring output from him. His shot has been spotty and opponents were already sagging off and daring him to shoot. If he can’t hit a decent percentage of deep, open shots, it will stifle the offense and start a “book” on how to defend him
Russell, also is not doing great so far. Without Curry, this was another chance for the newly acquired all star to show Dub Nation what he’s got. Instead, we got a fairly mixed bag of forced shots. Even though his performance did show up at times, the overall impression I had of his game was not super impressive. Remember also that we are going to be at a defensive disadvantage most nights, so the offense needs to be superb, not just adequate.
Rough first stint in this Curry-less game for D'Angelo Russell. Had a nice pocket pass on possession #1 and hit a mid-ranger. But missed his other four shots, turned it over twice, got beat a couple times and left with GSW down 26-11.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 17, 2019
Front court injuries depriving us of our first good look at the new team
For me, the saddest part about watching this game was how little it informed me about what to expect going into the season. Yes, it was ugly and I’m slightly more worried now than I was a week ago - but this scenario for the preseason could not have lined up in a less favorable way for fans hoping to get a look at what the Warriors are going to look like this season.
The “all our big men get hurt and we play the team with 2 superstar bigs 20 times in a row” game plan wasn’t light years https://t.co/e362yiH7E9— sam esfandiari (@samesfandiari) October 17, 2019
One thing that is emerging into clarity is that Alfonzo McKinnie isn’t making a strong case to keep his spot. With increasing pressure mounting on the Warriors roster to add Chriss, McKinnie and his contract are one of the very limited loose teeth rattling around.
Alfonzo McKinnie has four rebounds in 11 minutes, but he hasn't done much else. He needs to show he can do more consistently than grab rebounds. And he's running out of time.— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) October 17, 2019
One more look on Friday
Earlier in the week, coach Steve Kerr referred to the upcoming game on Friday as the final dress rehearsal. Curry will be back and playing heavier minutes than he has all preseason. It looks like most of the frontcourt will remain out, but at least we can see how Kerr does with a Nellie ball team.