The Golden State Warriors' starting lineup has proved a major issue for Steve Kerr so far this season, with the traditional five of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney holding a -13.0 net rating in 113 minutes together.
That's the worst net rating of 28 lineups across the league that's played at least 100 minutes together. Much of the responsibility has been placed on the underwhelming play of Thompson and Wiggins, but perhaps more concerns should be raised about the form of another veteran?
Kevon Looney has been unable to recapture his career-best form for the Golden State Warriors through 21 games this season
Kevon Looney has developed into one of the most steady and reliable Warrior players over recent years, both from an on-court and off-court aspect. He put up career-high numbers last season in minutes, points, rebounds, assists and field-goal percentage, before making a significant statement in outplaying Sacramento Kings' All-Star big Domantas Sabonis in the first-round of the playoffs.
The 27-year-old was good to start the season -- he averaged over 25 minutes through the first five games and had double-digit rebounds in the first three. More recently however, Looney's form is becoming a big problem as Golden State have slid to a 10-11 record and 11th in the Western Conference.
The 6'9" big man hasn't had a double-digit rebounding performance over the last seven games, and over the last three he's been limited to less than 16 minutes per game. That's been the right call from Steve Kerr, with Looney even removed from the starting lineup for Dario Saric in Saturday's loss to the LA Clippers.
It's never been about the numbers though with Looney, his impact goes further than that. Yet at the same time, the simple eye-test with him is hard to watch right now. The inability to finish around the rim is jarring, particularly in a starting lineup that needs more offense.
Even at his best, Looney is still a role player. A high-level one sure, but even they can be reliant on others in order to be effective. The nine-year veteran is viable in the starting lineup when Thompson and Wiggins are productive offensively. When that's not the case, Looney's inability to stretch the floor or finish around the rim makes the starting five unfeasible.
Following Wednesday's unconvincing win over the Portland Trail Blazers, Kerr said he "may have to think about moving the starting lineup around game-to-game." With the Warriors still needing Wiggins point-of-attack defense and Thompson's sheer shooting threat, Looney is the obvious candidate to move back to the bench on a more regular basis.
Golden State will still need Looney for specific matchups, and he can be a reliable, high-level backup big even when they don't materialize. But the facts are that he's a -3.9 in net rating (third-worst on the team) and is not currently the overwhelmingly impactful player that makes him essential to the starting lineup.