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Looney out, Green questionable as Warriors welcome Thunder to Chase Center

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Still short-handed, still bad, but never losing hope, this Golden State team is developing resilience while waiting for help.

Golden State Warriors v Oklahoma City Thunder
Alec Burks, save us!!

It’s Thanksgiving week, and much like the Pilgrims during those early winters, the Golden State Warriors find themselves in an unfamiliar wilderness in dire need of help. With most of their major stars sidelined, The Warriors have turned their hopeful eyes toward the return of Draymond Green and Kevon Looney.

Alas, it’s not to be. Looney, out with a lingering nerve issue in his hip, said Sunday that he wants “to get a few more practices in” before returning. Given the upcoming schedule, that means Friday against the Miami Heat or Sunday against the Orlando Magic. Green is listed as Questionable with lingering heel soreness and a number of other various dings and bruises.


GAME DETAILS

WHO: Golden State Warriors vs Oklahoma City Thunder

WHEN: Monday November 24, 2019; 7:30 pm PST

WHERE: Chase Center — San Francisco, CA

WATCH: NBC Sports Bay Area

Blog Buddy: Welcome to Loud City


Warriors’ struggles are getting worse

One of the most persistent knocks against coach Steve Kerr always rises when the offense struggles. For some reason, people are quickly able to dismiss the historic achievements and clamor for more of the isolation ball that the team would normally eschew. Citing everything from good personnel to bad ones, the argument is generally something along the lines of that absurdly stupid simplistic philosophy of Mark Jackson, “put the ball in the hands of your best player, and let him go to work.”

In recent years, the argument was that players like Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry should be taking pretty much every shot. Well, that option is gone. Along with pretty much every other guy in the league you’d want to take important shots for your team.

According to NBA.com statistics, the Warriors have the 23rd ranked offense, averaging about 105 points per 100 possessions. Their defense is dead last. And so is the net rating.

So yes, things will get better.

But no, it’s not going to be soon.

Go ahead and strap in for a long and bumpy ride, if you haven’t done so already.

The Silver Linings are getting brighter

That’s all a bit sad, but it’s not like there’s nothing happening out there for us to be happy about.

Ky Bowman has stepped firmly into the starting point guard role and proved that he deserves a job in the NBA. Currently on a two-way contract that limits him to just 45 days with the team before spending the rest of the season in the D League, Golden State is burning through their allotment like a smoker sneaking an extra cigarette on their five minute break.

Over the past four games, Bowman has averages of 13.8 points, 4.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals. But it was the recent close loss to the Jazz that was his most impressive showing: 17 points, 5 assists and 4 steals while playing a solid 36 minutes.

With only eight healthy players, guys like Bowman, Alec Burks, Eric Paschall and Omari Spellman have the sort of freedom that marginal fringe players wouldn’t normally encounter.

While the team has deepened in their struggles, it’s allowing the remaining players the sort of freedom and playing time that bench players can normally only dream of.

How are the Thunder?

At just 5-10, the Thunder are not a good basketball team, but they are significantly better than this current iteration of the Warriors. By Net Rating (a decent proxy for overall evaluation of a team) the Thunder are just slightly negative; their -0.4 rating is good enough for 14th in the league, just behind the Houston Rockets. For reference, the Warriors net rating is -10.6, the worst in the league by a full point.

Led by impressive young player Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (19.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3 assists per game), and Danilo Gallinari (18.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists per game) this is a team that is mid-rebuild, but it’s a much softer rebuild than what the Warriors are going through.

Prediction

The Warriors have already lost to the Thunder twice this season, though the last time by “just” six points. I expect this to actually be a fairly close game, but one that ends in yet another loss in front of the Chase Center crowd.

But you know what? We went through decades of losing in Oakland, the new San Francisco arena can handle some mediocrity.