The first thing that comes to mind when watching Moses Moody play is the enormous well of maturity his game flashes. He’s 20-years old, fresh off of his rookie season where he played in 52 regular season games, averaged nearly 12 minutes of time on the floor, and featured in a couple of notable playoff games — and yet, he has the poise of a league veteran.
Not to mention that he’s already an NBA Champion. Having the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green as teammates helps a ton, but his contributions to that title run can’t be considered insignificant.
Which is why there was a certain level of expectation from Moody going into this year’s Summer League. By virtue of being surrounded by high-level teammates and having experienced the highest level of basketball in the world, he should be able to dominate on some level against rookies and fringe NBA players.
In his first game in the Las Vegas Summer League, domination was indeed the operative word: 34 points on 13 shots (5-of-7 on twos, 3-of-6 on threes), 15-of-17 on free throws, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, and an 83% True Shooting mark.
The very reasons he did dominate may be the same caveats as to why this stat line should be taken with a grain of salt. Greenhorns, fringe players fighting for spots on NBA teams, and G League lifers aren’t the best measure of one’s true ability to stay with the big boys, but it is by no means non-indicative of someone’s development
It’s hard not to be intrigued by Moody’s progress. He was brought in to be the successor to the Andre Iguodalas and Shaun Livingstons that once permeated the Golden State Warriors roster: a versatile wing who could profile as a play connector and occasional finisher on offense, and a highly switchable Swiss-Army knife on defense.
We’re getting flashes of the defensive versatility. The playmaking flashes have also been there. But what we’re getting from Moody that may eventually one-up Iguodala and Livingston has been the scoring chops.
On a team that has a pretty established pecking order in terms of scoring and offensive priorities, Moody won’t be seeing an upgrade in terms of usage and on-ball reps. He doesn’t need to be a pick-and-roll ball handler — but being a two-way playmaker and sparkplug that ignites the Warriors’ brand of basketball will go a long way toward becoming a foundational rotation piece.
The first Moody play that caught my eye came from the California Classic. It’s this kind of sequence that makes it hard not to be bullish about Moody’s staying power in the league:
The deflection of the attempted pass to the backdoor cutter is the star of the sequence, but the process that led to it is equally impressive. Moody makes sure to keep his head on a swivel, keeping tabs on the ball while also making sure his man is accounted for.
Also take note of the use of his left hand as a probe to make sure he doesn’t lose contact with his man, which also helps in the deflection of the pass. Small but significant details like this make it hard to believe that Moody is only an incoming 2nd-year player.
To cap off the two-way sequence, Moody attracts paint attention with a downhill drive in transition, kicks out to the corner, and immediately relocates to the vacated corner for a three. Against Summer League defenses who aren’t attuned to the possibility of relocation threes, these kinds of shots are easy pickings.
(Also, it’s hard not to see the Curry influence. Relocation threes are infectious if your teammate is the greatest off-ball shooter of all time.)
Moody’s commitment to being more of an off-ball movement shooter has been palpable. Relocation threes are more of the situational variety, but more common types — off of wide down screens, staggered screens in Motion Strong, “Zipper” cuts, etc. — are low-hanging fruit that Moody can grab.
Moody may not even command a lot of movement shooting reps like the one above — a wide down screen where he stops in his tracks and catches his defender trying to preemptively navigate the screen — but just like last season, he will get plenty of spot-up looks.
The biggest spot-up three of his young career arguably came on this possession during the Western Conference Finals, with Curry driving downhill, luring away help from the strong-side corner, and kicking out to Moody for the shot:
(Moody’s defense that led to the transition three must also be commended. He shows great fundamentals as the low man against dribble penetration — he “traps the box,” which is the technical term for rotating and showing early help. He pokes the ball away and forces the turnover, which leads to the bucket.)
Having done it at the highest level, spot-up looks like these come by easily for Moody, especially within a relatively more relaxed atmosphere against inferior competition:
Self-creation reps will be warranted during Summer League, and Moody had plenty of them during the first game. As previously mentioned, his role in the big leagues won’t demand a significant chunk of on-ball reps as a ball handler in the pick-and-roll, but it’s nice to have in your holster to whip out once in a while.
Some nice wrinkles involving Moody were seen throughout the game. Arguably the most impressive one was on this set play — an oldie but a goodie:
If the play above looked familiar to you, then it should: it’s an old “Weave” play the Warriors used to run extensively for Klay Thompson. Trying it out for a budding movement shooter in Moody reaped dividends, drawing a foul and sending him to the line for two shots.
The offensive flashes were a sight to behold, but I would argue that Moody’s defense was equally impressive. This possession stood out above all else:
His persistence and peskiness around picks — and knowing how to “get skinny” — will go a long way toward Moody’s burgeoning screen navigation chops, a hallmark of an above-average point-of-attack defender.
Summer League is a time for overreactions that often don’t translate over to the big leagues. Moody is a different case; we know he’s capable of the stuff we’ve been seeing from him, because — albeit the limited minutes and his place within the depth chart — he’s made the most out of the reps he’s been given, both during the regular season and in the playoffs.
To see him evolve and progress into a bona fide NBA-level wing isn’t all too surprising — it’s what everyone’s been expecting and hoping out of him all along.