Due to a combination of injuries, suspension, ineffectiveness and pure desperation, the Warriors have tried 13 different starting lineups this season. One needs to only look at the standings to see how well that has worked.
It was just two seasons ago that the Warriors won a championship behind the starting lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney. The Warriors are just 5-6 when they’ve opened with that group this season. That lineup’s -7.9 net rating is getting outscored at a rate worse than the 10-25 Blazers.
Head coach Steve Kerr can’t count on the old guard to get him through games anymore. They simply haven’t been good enough, and it’s not looking like that is going to reverse course this season. So what can he do?
Here are four fixes that he should be looking at.
How Warriors can solve lineup issues
Andrew Wiggins is hurting the team too much to stay in the rotation
Wiggins’ fall has been shocking to witness. Two years removed from starting the All-Star Game, he has turned into one of the worst rotation players in the league.
Of the 141 players who have played enough minutes to qualify for Basketball-Reference’s leaderboards, Wiggins’ 46.5 effective field goal percentage ranks 140th. He has clogged up the Warriors’ spacing because teams leave him wide open from 3, where he’s hitting just 29.7 percent this year.
Wiggins was at one point stopping Luka Doncic in the playoffs with stellar defense. That isn’t close to happening anymore. He has taken a major step back, and his off-ball defense has completely crumbled.
The Warriors have been outscored by a stunning 150 points in the minutes that Wiggins has played this season. Kevon Looney’s negative 64 points is the second-worst mark on the team, showing how large the chasm is between Wiggins’ negative minutes and everyone else on the team.
Kerr sees the writing on the wall. To his credit, he pulled Wiggins out of the starting lineup in mid-December, but he gave him another chance in their Jan. 7 game against the Raptors. The Warriors were predictably blown out of that contest, losing 133-118.
The Warriors can’t wait for Wiggins to figure this out on the floor. It’s time to at least temporarily pull him from their rotation.
Jonathan Kuminga needs to play more
Kerr’s decisions regarding Kuminga’s minutes have been erratic, so much so that the forward has reportedly lost trust in his coach. It’s gotten bad enough that owner Joe Lacob was recently sitting in a press conference to hear Kerr’s explanation for limiting his playing time.
Kuminga has the tools to be one of the Warriors’ best defenders, but his shaky shooting and up-and-down level of feel means that he needs to play with certain teammates to hide those flaws.
Playing him alongside Wiggins, who has experienced the same problems this year, only serves to highlight those issues even more. Their shared minutes together have been an unmitigated disaster — the Warriors have been outscored by 20.7 points per 100 possessions, a rate almost twice as bad as what the Pistons are losing by on a nightly basis.
The easy answer is to play Kuminga in place of Wiggins. The Warriors have been very good in those lineups, posting a +9.1 net rating.
Free Moses Moody
No player on the Warriors has seen a shorter leash than Moody, and it’s not clear why. Since Christmas, he’s played less than six minutes in five of the team’s last seven games, including three DNPs. There have been rumblings that he is also frustrated with his role under Kerr.
It’s gotten bad enough that he received a loud ovation from the crowd when he finally checked in late in the fourth quarter of a game against the Pistons. He logged just 5:35 of playing time that night before Kerr checked him out for good.
Moody should get some more minutes with Chris Paul suffering a fractured left hand. That was the case on Sunday at least, with Moody scoring 21 points in 22 productive minutes.
Moody has been one of the more efficient scorers on the Warriors, shooting a respectable 34.7 percent from 3 and 48.5 percent from the field. He’s a versatile defender who takes charges and is a good help defender. He simply needs to play more.
Keep leaning into Trayce Jackson-Davis and Brandin Podziemski
To Kerr’s credit, he hasn’t been averse to playing some of his young guys. Two of the team’s rookies, Jackson-Davis and Podziemski, have been among their better players this season, and Kerr has trust in both.
Jackson-Davis has been one of the best rookie bigs in the league and the steal of the second round of the draft. He’s showcased great athleticism and feel, giving the Warriors a little bit of everything with the exception of outside shooting.
Podziemski is a natural fit in the Warriors’ system. He’s a well-rounded, high-feel guard who has given the team rebounding, playmaking, shooting and energy on the floor.
This is a tough transition period for the Warriors. The band-aid needs to be ripped off, though, and Kerr needs to move on from the veterans that won them so many rings. This issue is precisely why former general manager Bob Myers decided to leave in the offseason. Kerr is still here and getting paid to make the tough decisions. The Warriors have some good young athletes on this roster.
The veterans have had their chance. Now, it’s time to see what the new guys can bring.
Source : ESPN.com