Guard depth — at what many thought was at the expense of big-man depth and overall size — was a huge point of contention among Warriors fans last season.
Signing veteran guard Cory Joseph won’t do much to quell concerns about those next season. At 6-foot-3-inches, Joseph isn’t exactly a beacon of defensive versatility, especially with a standing reach of 8-foot-3 and a wingspan of 6-foot-5.
But what Joseph does provide is a steady hand and years of experience as a lead ballhandler and decision maker. Joseph was 10th in assist/turnover ratio (3.9) last season among 301 players who played a minimum 49 games. Chris Paul wasn’t far above him at fifth (4.6). With a team that had several moments of bad decision making and head-scratching turnovers last year, Joseph — along with Paul — is on a mission to provide veteran leadership as well as more on-court IQ.
Even at 32-years old and having 12 years of experience in the league, Joseph is making sure he’ll soak in as much as possible from Paul and Stephen Curry, two of the greatest point guards to have ever played in NBA history.
“I get to learn from two of the greats to ever do it at their position,” Joseph said Tuesday in an introductory Zoom with Bay Area media. “I’m extremely excited. I’m sure I’ll get there and learn a lot from them.
“We’ve seen what Steph has been able to do with the 3 and kind of changed the game. CP, we all know how smart he is in the pick and roll.”
Joseph not only is a steady presence as a ballhandler — he has shown some off-ball movement chops and isn’t merely a standstill operator. Curry is the golden standard in that department, and Joseph is ready to follow his example.
“I’m comfortable playing off-ball,” he said. “Like I said, what I try to do is try to hang my hat on defense. If there’s somebody that needs to be guarded off the ball, catch and shoot, I’ve been working hard on that over the last couple of years, and my numbers have been better and I plan to get even better at that.”
As aforementioned, Joseph will rarely stand still — he’ll lift to the wing/sink to the corner to make close-outs long and difficult. He’ll relocate to open spots. He’s smart enough to make himself available, a premium skill to have on this team.
But if Joseph does park himself at a particular spot behind the three-point line, he’s shown a penchant for making them. He’s a league-average shooter for his career but shot 38.9% last season after shooting 41.4% in 2021-22, both of which were his second-best and best career marks from three-point range, respectively.
Joseph attempted a career-high 5.3 threes per 75 possessions last season with the Detroit Pistons. He’s a willing shooter off of advantages created by his teammates, shooting over 40% on catch-and-shoot threes over the last two seasons (41.4% last season and 44.3% in 2021-22).
Force “nail” help (the area approximating the middle of the free-throw line), strong-side help one pass away, etc. — Joseph will be there to punish.
Joseph’s ability to knock down shots from beyond the arc at a respectable rate has allowed him to attack closeouts and touch the paint. While his frequency of attempts at the rim (17% last season) and accuracy up close (59% last season) aren’t exactly topnotch, he will make sure to maximize the advantages he creates off of paint touches.
The theme of the Warriors’ offseason acquisitions so far has been steadiness. Joseph aims to provide a respectable amount of such should his number be called to play emergency minutes in scenarios where Curry and/or Paul are sidelined due to load management or injury.