The Golden State Warriors came up short in their second preseason game, losing 114-113 to the Sacramento Kings. The Dubs were without several key players, with Draymond Green, James Wiseman and Eric Paschall missing the contest.
Head coach Steve Kerr gave 15 different players minutes during the loss, with the fringe guys making it close in the fourth quarter.
The good news is that Stephen Curry looked like he was back. The two-time NBA MVP finished with 29 points in 28 minutes. When he was on the court, Golden State’s offense looked worlds better than it did with him on the bench.
It’s only preseason, but when the games begin to count starting Tuesday, Kerr will have to mix-and-match until he finds a capable lineup when Curry is getting rest.
Steph was on fire in the first quarter of the defeat against the Kings. He put up 11 points in 10 minutes and exited with the Warriors holding a nine-point lead, leading to a 16-0 Sacramento run.
The Kings held a 15-point lead at half-time, but once Curry returned to the floor for the third quarter, the Dubs were able to close the gap to seven going into the fourth. Once Klay Thompson went down, everyone knew the pressure on Curry to deliver was going to mount.
He’s capable of putting up 30 points a game, but if Golden State wants to make a deep playoff run, it will need a lot more from the secondary players.
The return of Green, Wiseman and Paschall will make the rotation deeper, but none of them will help to cover up the lack of guard depth. Green is capable of making plays for his teammates, but Wiseman and Paschall are more suited for a complementary role.
Curry has played 49 minutes through two preseason games. The Warriors have been seven points better per 100 possessions with Steph on the court, and their PACE increases by 7.43 with Curry in the game, meaning the Dubs would get roughly seven more possessions per contest with Steph on the floor.
Kerr is going to have to find the right combination of players who can keep things rolling on the offensive end when Curry is getting a breather. Brad Wanamaker and Kent Bazemore are solid NBA veterans, but no one will confuse them with Lou Williams as scorers coming off the bench.
The two players who will have the most pressure to deliver with Steph off the court are Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr. They’re making roughly $44 million combined this season and need to play up to their contracts.
Kerr could undoubtedly start the pair, but an option would be to make one of them the first sub out. This would enable the Warriors to have one of them start the second quarter, which is when Curry could get some rest.
It looks like Golden State’s starters will be Curry, Wiggins, Oubre, Green and Kevon Looney. Wiseman, Paschall and Chriss will get their minutes, while Wanamaker and Bazemore should get the bulk of reserve bench minutes among the guards.
Jordan Poole, Damion Lee and Mychal Mulder have had their moments during the preseason, but none of them have shown that they can consistently perform at a high level over an extended period.
Kerr is one of the best coaches in the NBA, so I am sure he will make the adjustments accordingly. But, if the Warriors’ second-unit fails to deliver, general manager Bob Myers will have to go shopping before the trade deadline.
How do you think Kerr will set his rotations so the Dubs will be able to put up some points with Curry on the bench?