It’s Thursday, and Thursday is as good a time as any for some Golden State Warriors questions. We hadn’t done a mailbag in a while, so let’s jum pinto one!
If the Warriors go on to win the championship this year or make a deep run how difficult will it be to keep the roster together with the Bjelica, Iguodala, Lee, Looney, Payton and Potter all being unrestricted free agents next year? Who do you prioritize to resign?— John Murphy (@JMurphyFarmers) January 21, 2022
I think Kevon Looney and Andre Iguodala may be the organization’s priorities, simply because they’re the players who also were around for the first three championships. They’re not core players the way Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green are, but they’re important role players who critically understand and fit the system. As the 2020-21 season reminded us, finding and acquiring such players is more difficult than it might seem.
Thankfully, those are also the two easiest players to keep. The Dubs have Looney’s Bird rights, and I’m guessing will be willing to pay him whatever is needed — which probably will still be a pretty small amount. Looney has been too valuable, and James Wiseman too absent, for Golden State to feel comfortable banking on a center switch being successful after a great year.
As for Iguodala, I don’t see him playing for another team. He loves the Warriors, loves Curry, loves Steve Kerr, and loves the Bay Area too much. I expect him back for one more run at a minimum (and on the minimum salary), and then retirement.
After those two, I think the organization will prioritize Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr. Both have become integral bench pieces who contribute on both ends of the court, fit the system, and are able to smoothly transition into the starting lineup when needed. However, with the Warriors not having Bird rights for either player, they may have to dip into the Mid Level Exception to keep them. That’s OK, though.
Remember when Nemanja Bjelica was excellent in the first game of the season, and people were already clamoring about how he was going to play himself out of the Warriors budget for next year? He’s dropped a bit on the offseason priorities list, but still in the team’s favor. He rebounds. He passes. He makes threes. And, as far as we know, he does it with a smile on his face and a good vibe in the locker room. He might leave in search of more minutes elsewhere, but I’m sure the Warriors will make a run to keep him.
And that brings us to Damion Lee (and the unmentioned Juan Toscano-Anderson). The Warriors like both, and would be happy to keep both, and that should be very easy to do financially. But they’re not priorities the way the rest of these players are.
Long story short: if the Dubs win a title, or come close to winning one, I think they’ll be pretty content to run it back with Thompson being a year healthier, and Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, and Jordan Poole all being a year older. And I think it’s fairly feasible to do that.
Does Moody need more NBA minutes to get to the point where he can contribute? Or is the G-league giving him the reps he needs right now?— Why do racists vote Republican? (@dawsonjames498) January 20, 2022
He has no path to getting more NBA minutes right now, unless he can sweet talk his teammates into playing better and getting the team more garbage time. So the G League better work for him, because it’s kind of the only option.
But it’s also a good option. He needs some minutes, and some opportunities to find his three-point stroke. He needs to get more familiar with the team’s systems on both ends of the court, and the Santa Cruz Warriors do similar things to the Golden State crew.
For now, the G League is the best option. Next year? We’ll see.
When fully healthy, should Wiseman spend some time starting games in the G league like Moses Moody. If so, for how long?— broken typewriter (@brokentypewtr) January 20, 2022
It’s almost been a year since James Wiseman last played an NBA game. And that game came in a truncated rookie season, in which he struggled, which came after another layoff exceeding a year.
In other words, what he needs is some time on the court to get up to speed. I would send him to the G League for at least a few games, until he seems to have his rhythm, speed, and comfort up to par. Then he can come back to the Warriors and catch some lobs.
How can the Warriors solve the problem of their sub par road play? Is there a way to just simply get better on the road?— GSW Discussion (@gswdiscussion) January 20, 2022
Truthfully, I’m not sure that the Warriors are bad on the road, so much as they’re just other-worldly at home. Even away from the perfect confines of Oracle Arena, the Dubs have a significant home court advantage.
In home games, Golden State’s garbage-time adjusted net rating is nearly 5 points better than the second-best team. That’s utterly absurd — there’s a bigger gap between the Warriors and the second-best team (the Phoenix Suns) in home net rating than there is between the best team (the Utah Jazz) and the 10th-best team (the Brooklyn Nets) in overall net rating. They’re doing it with a quality offense, and a defense that is better than any defense should possibly be in this era.
So, sorry if this is an overly glass-half-full take, but I think the road struggles are exacerbated by just how good they look at home, because the reality is they have a home court advantage that still isn’t matched by many other teams. That, combined with the absences they’ve had due to injuries and rest — eight of the 10 games that Draymond Green has missed have been on the road, and all four of Steph Curry’s DNPs have been away from home — explain the bulk of it, in my eyes.
Thanks to everyone for the questions!