3. Role player redemption
To put it lightly, the Warriors’ bench has not been good.
The only consistent joys have been Gary Payton II and Otto Porter, Jr. After hot starts, players like Nemanja Bjelica and Damion Lee have cooled off considerably, while Juan Toscano-Anderson and even Warriors legend Andre Iguodala (mostly in terms of his shooting) have failed to maintain a consistently impactful level of play.
Of the role players poised for a sharper second half of the season, Bjelica and Toscano-Anderson stand out as potential candidates.
Over the course of the season, Bjelica has averaged 6.4 points and 4 rebounds per game, alongside 1.7 assists in around 15 minutes off the bench. Billed as a floor-spacing big with a 38.4% career three-point percentage, Bjelica has underwhelmed, shooting threes at a 34.8% clip.
This figure is even more disappointing given his hot start: through his first month as a Warrior, Bjelica was a 41.8% three-point shooter. He’s since fallen off a cliff, shooting 28.6% from deep since November 21. Bjelica is due for a hot streak – this January lull would be a great time for his shot to return to form.
Fan-favorite Toscano-Anderson has also struggled this year – his shooting stats have fallen across the board. During the 2020 – 2021 season, Toscano-Anderson shot 40.2% from three and converted 71.8% of his shots inside the arc.
So far this season, his percentages have taken a huge hit: his three-point percentage has slipped to a dismal 27.9% while his efforts on twos have paid off 61.5% of the time.
His effective field goal percentage has also taken a hit season-on-season, dropping from 66.7% to 54.2%. It would be great to see Toscano-Anderson, always a high-energy player, work his numbers back up to last year’s highs.
As the season progresses, we will see which role players earn themselves minutes in Kerr’s condensed playoff rotation – Bjelica and Toscano-Anderson will certainly be making their cases.