Dec 04, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42) shoots a jump shot over the defense of Philadelphia 76ers forward Thaddeus Young (21) during the third quarter at the Wachovia Center. The Timberwolves defeated the Sixers 105-88. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors: The Impact Of Adding A Stretch-Four

The Kevin Love to the Golden State Warriors trade talk has slowed down a bit.

This does not imply the team won’t find a way to make the trade a reality. However, the jovial exuberance that pulsed through the veins of every Warrior fan has come back down to earth.

While the chances of getting Love may not be completely 100% anymore, it does not change the desire for this team to add a stretch-four to this roster. And I’m not talking about sticking Draymond Green at the power forward and calling it a day. Don’t get me wrong: I love Draymond Green, but we all saw how beaten up the Warriors were on the glass in the Clippers series when a 6’7” Green was playing the 4, and even the 5 at some points. He can be effective with his small spurts of energy but it isn’t the answer in terms of starting lineup or heavy minute usage.

A legitimate 6’9” to 6’11” big man who has deadly three-point range would do wonders for this team. In today’s game, NBA lineups that feature at least two players that cannot shoot from relative distance are so much easier to defend. If multiple players on defense don’t have to worry about their man shooting they can pack the paint. This causes every other player to have a much more difficult time creating offense and scoring.

Having at least four players who can shoot naturally spaces the floor. Spacing the floor spreads out the opposing defense and allows for a wider variety of high percentage scoring opportunities over the course of a game. Floor spacing also forces defenses to worry about more people on offense, which helps take away pseudo double teams that occur when opposing players sag and help off their man. The more players on the floor that can score from anywhere on offense, the less defenses can help on dangerous players. The more one-on-one opportunities dangerous players get, the more potent an offense becomes.

Each team’s offense would play out a bit different with the addition of a starting quality stretch-four based on roster makeup and coaching philosophy. Each player in the Warriors’ starting lineup would greatly benefit from the addition. Below is the personal effect that a stretch four would have on the game of each of Golden State’s presumable starter.

Stephen Curry:

A stretch four would be incredibly helpful to the Warriors’ star guard. Imagine a world where Curry begins to have a much higher percentage of open shots, a world where he can come off a screen at the top of the key and not be consistently harassed by two bodies. Having a player who can set big-time screens and be a pop-out three-point threat would be deadly. Opposing teams would be constantly confused trying to guard each Curry pick-and-roll. If a team wants to double Stephen Curry to stop him from shooting or penetrating, he simply kicks it out to the open shooter from behind the arc. It’s an option that Curry and the Warriors did not have last season with the absence of David Lee’s jump shot which wore down Curry and limited the offensive potential. Adding a stretch four would greatly increase Curry’s offensive ability and efficiency.

Wing players Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson (or whoever the starting two could be):

Earlier, I discussed the idea of a stretch-four spreading the floor on offense. This forces defenses to play more straight up and limits pseudo double teams that occur when opposing players don’t respect the ability of players who cannot shoot. If a stretch-four is in the starting lineup for the Warriors, these two wing players should be prepared for a plethora of opportunities to make quick cuts to the basket and take more open shots. The combination of four players behind the arc and a quick passing offense results in a confused defense. The more passing that occurs, the quicker the defense will get lost resulting in an open shot or an open cutter flying down the lane for a quick pass and dunk. Both of these players would highly benefit from having a stretch four in the lineup.

Andrew Bogut:

While having a stretch four would have less of a scoring impact for Bogut, the impact would still be immense. Bogut’s value comes from his ability to impact the game in ways other than scoring, specifically offensive and defensive rebounding. On the offensive side of the ball, having a stretch-four stretches the floor allowing more space in the paint. While the defense is worried about guarding more players around the perimeter, Bogut is free to roam the lane and take up potential rebounding space. The probability a rebound comes down in the space of a certain player greatly increases if there are less players present in the paint. The value of Bogut would increase with respect to his rebounding ability if there was a stretch-four in the starting lineup.

As potent as last season’s offense looked on paper, the Warriors finished only 12th in the league in offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions). It’s important for this team to continue to develop if they want to make strides towards higher success in such a crowded conference. The Warriors offense lacked steady bench presence and an absence of scoring variety in the starting lineup.

Adding Shaun Livingston will help with the quality of the bench. Signing a stretch-four will present additional diversity when it comes to scoring on offense. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the most expensive person on the market. Simply anyone who can add shooting at the power forward position will do wonders for the Golden State Warriors.

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