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Preview: Warriors youth movement scheduled for another lesson as Denver Nuggets come to visit

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Marquese Chriss and Damion Lee may return as Golden State builds for the future

While the Warriors losing is all too obvious, dropping nine games in a row does not matter much in the long run. As the internal developments the Golden State Warriors have been starting to see in their young players continues, they are growing closer to becoming useful building blocks to stack up alongside returning superstars Steph Curry and Klay Thompson -whenever that happens.

D’Angelo Russell and Eric Paschall are 23; Omari Spellman, Marquese Chriss, and Ky Bowman are 22; Alen Smailagić is just 19 years old.

These are all parts of a youth movement that will define this season’s success far more accurately than the team’s eventual record will - which is a good thing, considering how abysmal that record is likely to be.


GAME DETAILS

WHO: Golden State Warriors (9-33) vs Denver Nuggets (27-12)

WHEN: Thursday, January 16, 2020; 7:30 pm PST

WATCH: TNT

Blog Buddy: Denver Stiffs


The ol’ contract switcheroo

Being a hard capped team has forced Golden State into some extremely delicate salary cap maneuvers; but the end result is that they’ve managed to finagle a way into holding on to both Damion Lee, and Marquese Chriss. As friend of the blog, Patrick Murray recently wrote at Forbes, this was a move that essentially swaps Lee’s two-way deal with Chriss’ NBA contract - with an eye on getting Chriss under contract by the end of the season as well:

The Warriors will be able to have him join their NBA team for only 23 days, which is what is left on a pro-rated two-way contract at this point in the season. However, the Warriors will have enough room under the hard cap that they are subject to until 1st July to sign Chriss to another minimum deal in early March, or wait until the G-League season is over on 23rd March and call him up full-time then.

Expect Chriss to immediately find his way back into coach Steve Kerr’s rotations. Per 36 minutes, he leads the team in rebounding (11), is second in blocks (1.8), and scores around 15 points at an efficient TS% of .561.

Against the burly Denver frontcourt of Nikola Jokic and Mason Plumlee, there is plenty of abuse opportunity to go around.

Damion Lee inked his NBA deal yesterday, a three-year contract that is a reasonable match for a young combo guard with promising, yet inconsistent results:

As we were saying above, this season is not about finding players that can help the team win right now, as much as it is about lining up some pieces that look like they would fit alongside our returning stars next year.

Alen Smailagić - first impressions are promising

Smailigic has captured the hearts and minds of Dub Nation. The youngest Warrior, his game is a bit raw still, and he’s played less than 100 minutes in the NBA but, the limited glimpses we’ve seen are enticing. He’s got a fearless element to his game that allows him to attack with intention, with decent early returns.

In his 96 minutes, he’s got some nice rate statistics. Per 36 minutes he’s pouring in: 16.4 points (6th best on the team), 8.6 rebounds (5th best on the team), and 1.2 blocks (3rd best). He leads the team in scoring efficiency with a .628 TS% and it’s reflected in another interesting stat: he’s also third on the team in foul rate per shot attempt - behind only D’Angelo Russell and Alec Burks.

Win or lose (ok, probably lose), this period of Warriors basketball has offered a unique chance for the young players. Golden State isn’t just building individual talent sets, they are setting familiar patterns and combinations with players. The idea here is that the team is finding what works between a bunch of players that will quickly have their roles reduced from major rotation players to whatever they can earn on a championship hopeful team next year.

Can you Guess the Warriors top two-man unit?

Ok, with a minimum of 20 minutes on the court together, guess which players have the best net rating as a two-man group:

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Warriors best two-man units, by net rating