Through five games of this unusual NBA season, the Golden State Warriors have some major issues. Their record sits at 2-3, but that’s a minor miracle considering how poorly the team has looked at times, most notably against playoff competition.
After yet another embarrassing blowout loss to a contending team, this one against the Blazers during Golden State’s home opener (not even the lowered championship banners could save team-owner Joe Lacob’s bunch), the Warriors have been outscored by 90 points in games against Portland, the Bucks and Nets. Perhaps the most pressing issue of many is the 3-point shot, both on offense and on defense.
Here’s how Anthony Slater of The Athletic framed this particular problem, in this excerpt from his post-Blazers-game write-up.
But through five games, they’re a bottom-five defense getting punctured at a near historic rate from 3. In 2021, you can’t win consistently in the NBA shooting 30.5 percent from 3, league-worst, as the Warriors are. But you have zero chance of survival when, on the other end, you’re giving up this kind of 3-point avalanche through five games: 85 of 190, 44.7 percent.The Athletic
This is a frightening area of concern, and coach Steve Kerr and the coaching staff are undoubtedly exploring options, via personnel and strategy, to remedy the situation. On defense, the issues stem from unfamiliarity amongst the Warriors’ roster, according to Kerr, by way of NBC Sports’ Drew Shiller.
And to peel this back further, the entire issue originates from the absence of injured guard Klay Thompson. He’s one of the best two-way players in NBA history and star guard Stephen Curry’s “Splash Brother” from 3-point land.
Currently, the Warriors are struggling to find Curry, who happens to be one of the best shooters of all time, for open shots from distance. For years now, Curry has mastered moving without the ball after he passes to a teammate near the start of possession. The new wings in the starting lineup, Kelly Oubre and Andrew Wiggins, haven’t fully realized how important it is to get the ball back to Curry, as said nicely by Nate Duncan of the Dunc’d On Pod.
My proposed solution should be no surprise, thanks to the headline of this post. Kerr should consider placing guard Damion Lee into the starting lineup. At the least, Lee, who is married to Curry’s sister Sydel Curry, should play more than the 16 minutes he received against the Blazers. Though he’s not as talented as Oubre, Lee would cut into Kelly’s court-time in this proposed scenario.
On defense, Lee isn’t a top-flight player on that side of the floor, but he’s been in the Warriors’ system for years now and could potentially help connect the dots, especially on the outside guarding the opponent’s 3-point shot. Lee’s not as long as Oubre, but his 6-foot-5 frame is still an issue for shooters.
On offense, Lee definitely knows to get the ball back to Curry whenever possible. Plus, he’s a solid shooter himself. Lee is a career 35.3 percent marksman from distance, displayed nicely during his 35 starts for Golden State last season when he shot 35.6 percent from 3-point land.
Eventually, the Warriors need Oubre to play more minutes than Lee, as Oubre is the more talented player. But with the Warriors so scattered and disorganized on offense and defense, familiarity may be as important as anything at the moment. Some time on the bench could potentially help Oubre break out of his funk, which has been massive to start his first season in San Francisco.
And who’s more familiar with Curry and the Warriors than Lee at the moment? Relatively few, that’s for sure. Not only does Lee know the ins and outs of the Warriors franchise as commanded by Curry and Kerr, his game perhaps most resembles Thompson’s, minus the elite defense. He can at the least stay connected to his teammates on that end, however, and on offense he’s a solid spot-up shooter.
Golden State is missing Curry’s “Splash Brother” Klay Thompson in a ghastly start from the perimeter, and it’s time to promote Lee and hope like heck he can become Curry’s “Splash Brother-in-Law,” giving the Warriors some stability until Oubre and Wiggins, especially Oubre, gain their footing.
(Photo credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)