The Brandon Rush Ripple Effect

It’s unprofessional (and probably bad karma) to discuss a player’s injury before the details of its severity are known. But in the case of Brandon Rush, it seems safe enough to assume that his absence will be prolonged. Knees don’t bend that way, after all.

Rush’s injury affected the Golden State Warriors’ opening night affair against the Memphis Grizzlies on three very immediate levels. First, it sucked the air out of a raucous Oracle arena. The haze from the introductory pyrotechnics had hardly cleared when Rush went down, and a symbolic one hung over the assembled 19, 556 for the duration of the contest.

Second, Rush’s absence left the Warriors without an answer for Memphis’ Rudy Gay, who assumed control of the game for lengthy stretches in the second half. Harrison Barnes was too green and Klay Thompson lacked the size and athleticism to stick with Gay, whose every move seemed to raise the question: What on earth has kept this guy from All-NBA teams?

Third, it shifted the Warriors’ projected rotation in a way that is going to require much heavier minutes from Jarrett Jack. The Dub’s projected backup point guard logged 27 minutes and was often paired with Stephen Curry in the backcourt. Yes, the Warriors found yet another way to play small. Wonders never cease. This lineup construction was both necessary and well conceived, though. Jack lets Curry play off the ball, a role in which he is vastly more effective.

The cumulative result of those three Rush-related ripples was a 104-94 loss. Of course, Rush’s unavailability wasn’t the leading cause of the defeat—that distinction goes to a still woefully predictable offense that doesn’t create defensive switches or easy shots at the rim. But Rush’s absence is going to matter in a major way.

It forces Harrison Barnes to grow up faster. It means Klay Thompson can’t just be a shooter. And it means that everybody on the wings is going to have to rebound.

The Brandon Rush Ripple Effect is going to be a far-reaching thing. It probably costs the Warriors a win or two on the season and it certainly also serves as a reminder that nothing’s promised in an NBA season.

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