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Warriors keep tanking towards #1 draft pick, will face Pelicans missing theirs

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It’s the worst team in the league, versus the second-worst team in the West. Should be some beautiful basketball!

Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans

You know what’s even uglier than firing 200 people over Twitter a week before Christmas? How about the very worst team in the league going up against one of the other worst teams in the league?

Sound like your cup of tea? Yeah, mine too (honestly).

So here we go! Let’s dive in to this Golden State Warriors versus New Orleans Pelicans game.


GAME DETAILS:

WHO: Golden State Warriors (5-24) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (7-22)

WHEN: Friday December 20, 2019; 7:30 pm PST

WHERE: Chase Center, San Francisco, CA

WATCH: NBC Sports Bay Area

Blog Buddy: As the Bird Writes


Are the Warriors truly desperate for a win, or content to keep tanking?

Golden State has “only” lost five straight, with wins coming few and far between the team is beginning to feel due for a win. They’ve continued to show effort, losing a close(ish) game to the Portland Trail Blazers on the road. Tonight they’ve got a better chance to succeed, hosting a Pelicans team that just managed to break a franchise record with 13 consecutive losses.

This has not been the sort of season where you look at the 5-24 record and go “wait WHAT? I thought we were doing okay this year.”

Game by painful game we have watched this team plunge deeper and deeper into the abyss.

But what if that abyss has a sweet reward at the bottom?

In what projects to be a shallow draft class year, the Warriors are especially interested in doing whatever they can to maximize theirs chances at a top draft pick. According to the excellent tankathon monitoring website, you can see that the Warriors are poised to do no worse than fifth.

Remember that they flattened the odds this year, so the bottom three teams all get a 14% shot at the #1 pick. Being one of the bottom three teams that gets that 14% chance does not seem like it will be a problem for these Golden State Warriors.

Waiting on Zion

If Warriors fans are looking for a shoulder to cry on, there are probably more than enough commiserating people to feel pain with. The Pelicans got a fairly nice haul for departed and estranged superstar Anthony Davis.

With Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, the fourth pick (used on De’Andre Hunter), and free agent signing, JJ Reddick - plus freakishly athletic Zion Williamson, the Pelicans looked interesting coming into the season.

But Williamson got hurt after looking fantastic in the preseason.

A torn lateral meniscus in his right knee. Surgery. And an optimistic 8-week return schedule that he is falling behind on (though he has now returned to the court). He’s 6’6” and officially listed as 284 pounds. Starting your professional career off with a significant injury is not a great sign, so expect the Pelicans to be cautious bringing him back.

Warriors to watch: Eric Paschall’s return from a hip injury

Speaking of exciting rookies, Warriors games got eminently more watchable with the return of Eric Paschall.

In his first game back he only played 18 minutes, but managed 11 points (5-10 from the field, 1-4 from deep), 4 rebounds 2 assists and a steal.

Kevon Looney got a DNP last game and though coach Steve Kerr is finding a comfortable big man rotation with Cauley-Stein, Marquesse Chriss, and Omari Spellman, you can expect them to ramp up Paschall’s minutes.

We talked last preview about Paschall’s ability to operate as wing. Given the personnel (with Draymond Green and Kevon Looney holding historic possession of the power forward spot) and his skill set, Golden State is very interested in developing his overall floor game by getting him to operate in space more.

We wrote earlier about teams pushing his game out away from the basket (where he is highly efficient), and it looks like the Warriors are going to resolve that problem by leaning into it.

He’ll probably get a fair amount of Derrick Favors, a player whose game he would do well to emulate.

Predictions

The Warriors have been better at home, but I shudder to think of what JJ Reddick is going to do with our perimeter defense.

Brandon Ingram just went off for 34 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and a block in the Pelicans last game.

Jrue Holiday is going to take revenge against the entire franchise for all the times Steph Curry and Klay Thompson crushed him.