The big lineup hole the Golden State Warriors desperately need to fill

Philadelphia 76ers v Golden State Warriors
Philadelphia 76ers v Golden State Warriors / Kavin Mistry/GettyImages

The Golden State Warriors' motion offense has been the envy of the league for much of the past decade, allowing them to win four NBA championships and produce two further NBA Finals appearances.

Over recent years, the Warriors' system has allowed them to get away with two non-shooting threats in their starting lineup -- Draymond Green and Kevon Looney. The pair's passing and screen-setting ability, combined with the historically great shooting of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, has made the starting lineup productive in a league that more and more desires shooting from at least four, if not all five positions.

The need for another athletic, big two-way forward is a hole the Golden State Warriors desperately need to fill by the end of the season.

As effective as it has been, the Looney-Green pairing may be nearing its use by date. To be fair, it has an expiry almost every season. Inevitably come the playoffs, Steve Kerr will want to go smaller and find more shooting out on the floor -- see Otto Porter Jr. in 2022 and even JaMychal Green last season.

Playing Green and Looney together less may have to be a decision Kerr makes sooner rather than later. Teams have become accustomed to the Warriors' offense, not helped by the likes of Thompson and Andrew Wiggins having shot the ball poorly by their standards so far this season.

The Green-Looney combination isn't bad by any means, but their not as effective as previous seasons. In 2021-22 they had a net rating of 5.6 when sharing the floor together. Last season it was 12.1. Now it's in the negatives at -0.7.

Draymond Green, Kevon Looney, Andrew Wiggins
Golden State Warriors' trio Kevon Looney, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green celebrate / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

Golden State currently ranks 14th in offensive rating, and more concerningly, the traditional starting lineup is -10.6 in net rating. Speaking recently on Hoops Tonight, The Volume's Jason Timpf identified the one fix the Warriors need to make.

""They need a big forward that's bigger than Wiggins, that's a good athlete and a plus offensive player that they can slot between Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green. That is the one thing in my opinion that will push this team over the top, like way over the top," Timpf said."

Timpf is optimistic on Golden State's chances of returning to championship contention, pointing towards their tough schedule and Draymond Green's suspension as reasons behind their underwhelming start.

He's not wrong in identifying the Warriors need for another skilled forward between Wiggins and Green. Dario Saric has been a huge pickup and fits the moult to a degree but isn't a great athlete, while Jonathan Kuminga hasn't quite taken the third-year leap many expected.

In Thursday night's 120-114 win over the LA Clippers, Looney played less than 13 minutes after starting at the five. That was the right call, with the 27-year-old soundly beaten by opposing big Ivica Zubac in the time he was on the floor.

For now, Kerr might have to lean more on Saric over Looney, or even Kuminga if he can find his range from beyond the arc. Is that winning you a championship though? If not, Mike Dunleavy Jr. may have to pick up the phone and find someone who can fill the spot.