Draymond and his little elves

The Warriors have been playing consecutive Christmas games starting from 2013. Until last night, they have been alternating Ws and Ls with the perfect regularity while going through the ups and downs of the Mark Jackson stint, the 5 year run and the 2 years of no playoffs. Last Christmas, they got a W at Phoenix. With Steph and Wiggs out and the team coming back from a 1-5 road trip, this was supposed to be an L nicely fitting into the historic pattern:

2013 W LAL

2014 L @LAL

2015 W CLE

2016 L @CLE

2017 W CLE

2018 L LAL

2019 W HOU

2020 L @MIL

2021 W @PHO

But if you have a motivated Draymond, any miracle can happen. Those young Grizzlies surely provide enough notice board material to keep Dray motivated. They just said that Boston would be the one to beat in the playoffs and nobody in the West worried them. I think a motivated Dray is not only what you see in his stat line, but also what you don’t see behind the scenes, i.e. in the locker room and the practices leading to the game, where Dray might have rallied his troops to show those Grizzlies their place.

The Warriors came out playing super-focused on both ends of the court and it started with Dray who had 13 ASTs and only 2 TOs. Everybody worked on both ends of the court and the team did a much better job defending the 3 pt line than they normally do. Ja was allowed to shoot the 3, but everyone else was contested on most of the shots. Memphis shot 23% on 3s including 2-10 from Ja, 0-7 from Desmond Bane (guarded by Klay) and 1-6 from Dillon Brooks (guarded by Poole). At the same time, the Grizzlies guarded Poole and Klay tightly, but allowed everyone else having open 3s. Klay and JP combined for 6-22 3FGA, while the rest of the team was 12-22 on 3s, including 5-9 form DDV, 3-4 from Lamb and 2-4 from Ty. The 3 pt shooting was the major reason the Dubs won this game as they made 9 more 3s (18-9 in makes), i.e. 27 points in the game won by 14.

Other than Draymond whose presence was felt throughout the game (13 RBs, 13 ASTs, 3 pts, 2 BLKs, 1 STL, +13), our two other vets struggled. Loon had hard time fighting Adams in the paint and Klay had another bricking night with 24 pts on 25 shots. It was Dray and the younger guys who gave their very best to secure the win.

Poole was unstoppable despite Brooks guarding him. This is the next step for him – score efficiently despite being guarded by the top defenders. On the other end, JP was guarding Brooks who is quite streaky but if hot, can have a 30 pt game easily. In this game, he shot 4-12 for 13 pts. Poole and his technicals deserve a separate discussion. So, I won’t say more than that I have been concerned for a while now with where this is heading long term.

DDV was helpful guarding Ja. He is not GPII but quite good defensively too and with what he provides on offence, I am happy with the GPII replacement for this year. His 3 pt stroke is better by the game. When he plays with the starters, he takes advantage of being an afterthought for the opponents’ defence by knocking down open 3s. He started the last 4 games he played. In those, he is 14-26 (54%) on 3s and this is even without Steph on the floor. Maybe Steph-DDV would be a better back court than Steph-Klay.

Ty Jerome and Lamb are great upgrades for Damion Lee and JTA respectively as they have something to offer both on defense and offense. Ty Jerome might have played his best game as a Warrior. This is exactly how I envisioned him fitting the team before we even signed him. He is skilled (passing, shooting, not too bad on defense) and a great decision maker. The more Kerr plays him the better he becomes in our system as he is learning it fast. He is 25 and is entering his prime. If Bob could sign him on the cheap for a multiyear contact, he will be a steal. He is leading the team in TS at 67.1% (2. Steph 66.8%, 3. Lamb 65.5%) and has a remarkable 4:1 AST/TO ratio. The offense flow is great with him. Would you rather have him in the playoffs or Iggy? It may come down to picking two out of Lamb, Ty and Iggy before the playoffs.

This brings me to Lamb. He played enough minutes to have his game somewhat equilibrated. Because he is asked to defend bigger guys, his success on this side of the court depends on the opponent he is playing against. But on offense, he knows where to be to get an opportunity to score. It could be an open 3 or a layup. 100% of his 3s and 74% of the 2s are assisted and if you take into account his 65.5% TS while the team doesn’t run plays for him, it becomes obvious that Lamb has a remarkable ability to be in the right place at the right time to get the ball to launch highly efficient shots. There aren’t many players like him out there to fit Kerr’s system like a glove. If we find a way to hold onto Lamb and Ty, two 25 y.o. players, they might become the solid bench contributors while our more talented lottery picks gradually replace the core on the starting lineup. This would be a more solid and reliable bridge for the transition rather than taking chances with random JMGs and likes every offseason, not knowing if they ever fit the system while spending time on trying to integrate them.

The lottery picks played well and within their game. They held their own and weren’t a liability. Kuminga had some TOs and forced some FTs, but his defense is what brings the most value at the moment. Moody keeps scoring very efficiently and I like him making some moves to go away from taking just 3 pt shots. Wiseman was matched against Clarke and looked actually quite good. I would rather have him play than watch more JMG, but it looks like Kerr is careful picking the matchups for him. I don’t believe in Wiseman being ready for the playoffs but assuming he stays healthy all season, he might be ready to back up Loon next year.

It will be interesting to see how the pecking order reshapes upon the return of the currently injured. With Wiggs in, who is out of the rotation? Who is back to the bench, JP or Klay? Will Wiseman take the spot from JMG?

The Hornets are in town tomorrow, after visiting Portland tonight. Kelly Oubre will have something to prove. Some may compare LaMelo and Wiseman again. It is a very winnable game, but the Dubs may let it slip after winning the big one on Christmas. Kerr needs to be aware of the basic psychology and prepare the guys accordingly.

This FanPost is a submission from a member of the mighty Golden State of Mind community. While we're all here to throw up that W, these words do not necessarily reflect the views of the GSoM Crew. Still, chances are the preceding post is Unstoppable Baby!