The Golden State Warriors looked in all sorts during the third-quarter against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night, finding themselves behind by 22 points after the controversial first-half ejection of Chris Paul.
Steve Kerr turned deep into his bench, a decision that paid dividens as the Warriors fought back to at least make things interesting down the stretch. They may have never truly looked like winning, but the facts are that the visitors trimmed the Suns lead to three with 19 seconds left.
After a strong bench performance against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, Steve Kerr is left with more questions than answers in regard to the Golden State Warriors' rotation.
Four of the five Warrior starters were a -14 or worse, leaving the bench and younger players as really the major positive from the contest. Rookie Brandin Podziemski was a team-high +20, while Dario Saric and Cory Joseph were each a +12.
This was hardly a one-off though -- in reality it only furthers the questions Steve Kerr has regarding his rotation moving forward. The customary starting lineup -- Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney -- hold the five-worst individual plus-minuses on the team this season.
It's the opposite issue to 2022-23 where Golden State had the best starting lineup in the league, but whose bench would often throw away games to the point Kerr turned to two-way players on a consistent basis.
Kerr got it right on Wednesday, shying away from the temptation to re-insert his starters in the final minutes. In fact, you could argue he got it wrong when Curry, Thompson and Wiggins returned for a few minutes mid-way through the fourth -- a three-minute stretch Phoenix won by six.
""It's one of those games where the bench goes out and plays great, much better than the starters played. They get you back in it and you reward them and stay with it..those are weird moments as a coach where it doesn't feel right to go away from the group that is playing great," Kerr said in the postgame."
But while it's easy to suggest the young players need and deserve more minutes, that's hard to put into action in reality. If the Warriors are to have any success this season, it will come from the starters re-establishing an identity and finding a rhythm together. Kuminga, Moody, Podziemski, Jackson-Davis etc... they can be helpful and should be utilized, though they aren't leading you to a deep playoff run this season.
There's a balance that Kerr has to pinpoint, and not an easy one to find. Golden State are deep and have a lot of guys who can play, but they're not talented enough at the top of the roster to be anywhere near a championship-contender at present.