Just like Stephen Curry and the Warriors of old silenced critics and doubters, so too has this season’s Golden State team quieted cynics. You thought this wasn’t the worst team in the league? Wednesday’s loss to the destitute New York Knicks should shut anyone up who was doubting just how fundamentally bad this tanking Warriors team is right now.
But we move on.
The team is off to scenic Utah, where the sixth seeded Jazz await to teach us yet another lesson in humility. Adding to the likelihood of an all-too-familiar beating tonight, the Warriors will be playing without Draymond Green (rest), Ky Bowman (D League assignment) and Eric Paschall (hip).
WHO: Golden State Warriors (5-21) at Utah Jazz (14-11)
WHEN: Friday December 13, 2019; 6 pm PST
WHERE: Vivint Smart Home Arena - SLC, Utah
WATCH: NBC Sports Bay Area
Blog Buddy: SLC Dunk
Tanking with effort
For those of us who joined up before the We Believe run, there’s no amount of temporary pain that can compare to the deep, abiding hopelessness of watching your team squander draft picks and make bad roster decisions.
So yes. This season hurts. After clawing back to force an overtime in the most recent game against the New York Knicks, the Warriors crumbled. Heralded by an ill-advised Marquise Chriss jumper with time remaining on the shot clock, it was the final nail in the coffin. This Warriors team is unequivocally bad.
Down 4, 17 seconds on the shot clock in OT, the worst record in the NBA on the line.— Chris Montano (@gswchris) December 12, 2019
Play of the game from Chriss to keep the tank alive pic.twitter.com/viA4uMto51
Golden State now owns the worst record in the league. They’ll make noises about how it’s unacceptable, but ultimately it's understandable with this roster.
Chriss, the culprit in the clip above, actually played a solid game against the Knicks (12 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks) - part of a pattern of continual improvement this season.
But from a design perspective, this is a Warriors team in desperate need of outside shooting. They’ll get it, with the return of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry. But for now it's an incomplete roster running on spare parts.
Injury updates and the tricky Ky Bowman and Kevon Looney situations
After running a couple of games with 11 players, the Warriors are back to playing short handed again.
Draymond Green is ruled out for tomorrow's game in Utah, with the Warriors noting "rest." Eric Paschall is doubtful with lingering hip soreness.— Wes Goldberg (@wcgoldberg) December 12, 2019
Green played 40 minutes in the Knicks game, and with how the season has been going, the team is rightly hesitant to push him to play more. If this is going to be a season dedicated to tanking/resting then it makes a ton of sense to be cautious with Green’s load this year.
Beyond that, Eric Paschall is still likely out. He’s currently listed as “doubtful” and again, the team has little to no reason to rush anyone back right now.
Ky Bowman is a bit more of an interesting situation. As a player under a two-way contact, Bowman is only allotted 45 total days with the NBA team and will make his D League debut. He’s used up 32 of those days already so the team is going to start stretching the remaining days carefully.
On top of that, Bowman thrived without D’Angelo Russell. With the return of Jacob Evans, there is some pressure to free up minutes (and role):
When D’Angelo Russell missed nine games from Nov. 17 to Dec. 2, Bowman averaged 12.6 points, 4.1 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 31.7 minutes.
But with D-Lo back in the lineup during the last four games, Bowman’s numbers have dipped to 6.5 points, 2.0 assists and 2.0 rebounds in 19.2 minutes.
Kevon Looney is also in a weird situation. After returning from a neurological hip pain issue, Looney has struggled to be effective. Already on a minutes limitation, Looney has yet to log more than 12 minutes or score more than 7 points in a game. He played just 5 minutes, coming away with 5 points and a rebound.
Coach Steve Kerr briefly touched on this in his postgame Q&A. I’ve done my best to accurately transcribe the relevant snippet from the Warriors Soundcloud. Here’s Kerr’s answer when asked if Looney was okay:
Yeah. Yeah. We played almost everybody in the first half and we just couldn’t find a rhythm. We just decided with Robinson’s size we decided to stay with Willie and changed the matchups at halftime
We decided that if we found a group that was playing well we were just going to stick with it and that’s why he and Jacob [Evans] didn’t see action in the second half.
But here’s the concern.
In most of the descriptions of the symptoms Looney was dealing with, pain was listed at the forefront. We are still early in the return process, but take a gander at the pattern below. Here’s Looney’s games since his return.
Not only is he struggling to make much of an impact, his low minutes have decreased well below whatever limitations team doctors have placed on him. And look at those opponent names up there - these aren’t exactly upper echelon teams he’s faced. Looney was supposed to be one of the guys that would return and make this team less awful, and that has not been the case so far.
Take another L, Dub Nation.