In the first half of Monday’s thrilling 115-113 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, we witnessed Steve Kerr tweak with the Golden State Warriors rotation a bit.
This shouldn’t have been surprising. With Kelly Oubre Jr. struggling to find his shot this season, Kerr has fielded many a question regarding how long the starting lineup will stay in place. And each time, Kerr has laid forth some iteration of the same answer: that the Dubs will tweak their rotations, but the starting unit is gonna stick.
And so it was that halfway through the first quarter, Oubre found himself taking a spot on the bench instead of Andrew Wiggins, in the role formerly held by Kevin Durant. And when the second quarter began, it was Oubre out with the second unit, while Wiggins waited to return with Steph Curry.
So what did we learn from the Dubs numerous tweaks? Let’s take a look.
The short term results look good for Oubre and Wiggins
Wiggins is widely considered the better offensive player, which is why he was tapped for the role of bench unit offensive focal point. But with Oubre struggling to find rhythm with the Warriors intricate motion offense, a shift in role yielded strong results.
With the second unit playing a bit more scattered and improvised than the starting five, Oubre looked far more comfortable and found more opportunities. It was no coincidence that he finished with a season-high 23 points on 50% shooting. And with Eric Paschall looking like a go-to-scorer off the bench, Wiggins’ isolation skills weren’t missed.
Wiggins, however, seemed to benefit from playing the bulk of his minutes next to Curry and Draymond Green, and had a hyper-efficient showing, shooting 7-for-11 from the field and 3-for-5 from beyond the arc.
Oubre’s starting spot is secure, but not guaranteed
The move to find Oubre minutes — but not remove him from the starting lineup — simultaneously signaled belief and concern about his ability. That the Dubs are tweaking his role suggests that they’re past the point of thinking that the ship will just right itself; he needs help. But the fact that he stayed in the lineup means were likely still a very long ways away from the Warriors considering a new starting lineup.
In fact, Oubre is playing now more than ever. In Monday’s game he played more than 37 minutes, easily a season high, and over the last four games he’s averaged 31.4 minutes, after just 26.4 minutes in his first nine games.
The Warriors are committed to Oubre, and despite clamoring from some fans, it seems they’re far more inclined to focus on putting Oubre in better situations than to bench him.
Paschall is earning minutes next to Green
Paschall had a sensational rookie season, yet there was one concerning element: he and Green greatly struggled when sharing the court together.
It hasn’t been surprising, then, that Green and Paschall have mostly been staggered this season. But with the second-year pro looking dynamic off the bench, Kerr is starting to experiment with the two.
They’re still not playing together a lot, but they shared he court for about four or five minutes on Monday, and the minutes went well. If Paschall’s shot from deep holds up — he’s shooting 38.1% this year, albeit on just 21 attempts — those lineups should have a good chance at success.
We’ll likely see Kerr tinker with lineups more in the coming weeks, and as he does, we’ll learn more and more about the Dubs.