On a night where the Golden State Warriors were without All Stars Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and Andrew Wiggins as well as prominent role players Andre Iguodala, Otto Porter Jr, Nemanja Bjelica and the continued absence of James Wiseman, the team showed its greatest strength.
As the Warriors proceeded into the second night of a back-to-back, they prioritized resting their ailing team rather than going for a gritty win over the San Antonio Spurs. However, the team showed just how impressive the roster put together by Bob Myers is.
With their win over San Antonio Tuesday night, the Golden State Warriors once again showed that their depth will be what carries them to the Finals.
When the Warriors won the championship, the team moniker was ‘Strength in Numbers.’ That team had their superstars but also a full complement of stud role players who kept the team afloat when the stars needed a breather.
The heart of Strength in Numbers
“It’s oftentimes our second group that gets the ball moving and gets our team going, not just (in Game 1), but we’ve had several games where that’s been the case,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said in 2015 (NBC Sports).
“Sometimes our starters get a little bogged down, and we go to Shaun (Livingston) and L.B (Barbosa). and Andre (Iguodala). Last night Mo (Marreese Speights) with his return, and the game can change. Sometimes you just need a different look. And I do believe that there is a certain chemistry that comes with relying on a lot of people too.”
Keeping the culture alive
That same thought can be applied to the current team. With the Warriors missing half of their roster, they turned to their superstar bench scorer Jordan Poole to handle the load of Curry. Poole was once again up to the challenge, scoring 31 points in 34 minutes.
Where Poole filled the Curry role, rookie lottery pick Moses Moody did his best Klay Thompson impression by scoring 20 points and hitting 6 threes. Rotation players such as former G-Leaguer Damion Lee contributed another 21 points whereas the sixth overall pick Johnathan Kuminga flashed his immense potential with 19 points.
“To dig ourselves out of that hole, to see all of our young guys competing the way they did, our two rookies coming through in a big way … just an incredible team win,” coach Steve Kerr said.
This is how the Warriors can return to the NBA Finals. Down 8 of their top 11 rotation players, the rest of the team stepped up and showed their value. Poole is going to shoulder a heavyweight as the leader of the bench mob come playoff time, whereas he will be flanked by Lee, Gary Payton, and possibly Kuminga.
The most impressive performance was Moody, however. Moody has played the least out of the Warriors bench players, mostly because he’s young and still learning, but he shined when given the opportunity.
When the playoffs arrive, the Warriors will likely shrink their rotation. While some of these guys won’t play big playoff minutes, it gives Kerr the opportunity to mix and match based on opponents and situation with confidence.
One can argue that the Warriors have 15 legitimate NBA rotation players and that is a good situation to have. Injuries and lack of depth hurt the Warriors the past few years, but those playoff-less seasons have allowed the Warriors the opportunity to develop their roster and prepare for another run.