The Golden State Warriors know a thing or two about star talent. On most game days over the last decade, the team has trotted out Steph Curry, the type of talent the league only sees a tiny quantity of at any one time.
They’ve surrounded him at times with Kevin Durant - who is in the same boat of superstardom - as well as with Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, emphatically stars in their own mold.
The Warriors didn’t bring any of those players to Chase Center on Sunday against the surging New Orleans Pelicans (or, more accurately, they didn’t let any of those players leave the bench and actually compete).
Of the 25 players selected for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, only one was present on Sunday: Brandon Ingram. And yet, as well as Ingram played for stretches, he wasn’t even the best player on the floor. Or the second-best.
Those distinctions belonged to former All-Star Jrue Holiday and future All-Star Zion Williamson, who picked the Warriors apart in the minutes where it mattered most, subtly yet emphatically reminding Golden State of the importance of star power, and leading New Orleans to a 115-101 win.
The Warriors had no answer for Williamson, who, despite Sunday being just his 12th career NBA game, has already solidified himself as one of the greatest players on the planet. The mesmerizing athletic prodigy had 28 points and 7 rebounds, with 6 coming on the offensive end. On the rare occasions when the Warriors forced Williamson into a clanked shot, he was seemingly always the first person to his own miss.
While Williamson beat the Warriors with a rare blend of force and finesse, overpowering the Dubs in every athletic category, Holiday’s approach was more methodical. The two-way force picked apart the Warriors offense and defense with precision, en route to an efficient 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 15 assists. He controlled the game, seemingly playing puppeteer of both teams.
Often when the Warriors are overmatched, as they so clearly were on Sunday, they don’t provide much resistance. The bright spots are hard to come by, even for those who default to blind optimism (read: me).
Such was not the case on Sunday. The Warriors played well, putting forth one of their best performances in recent weeks, despite Green and Marquese Chriss being sidelined.
Damion Lee jumped out of the gates offensively, doing his best Klay Thompson impression with his jumper. He finished with 22 points (on 9-15 shooting), 4 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Jordan Poole - getting the start at point guard - looked like a quality NBA player, which is a sign of just how far he’s come since his disastrous start to his rookie year. He shot 8-14 from the field, and finished with 19 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Eric Paschall was strong, yet again. Kevon Looney had a few highlight moments. And Dragan Bender displayed why the Warriors wanted to sign him to a 10-day contract, and instantly made a push to finish the year with the team - and maybe make next year’s squad.
Golden State led by four points after the first quarter, and by a clean ten points at the half. They did the things you have to do to win a game.
The star power just wasn’t there.