Golden State Warriors

Before Stephen Curry returns, how have the other Warriors fared?


Stephen Curry is almost set to return from his broken hand, but before he’s back, how have the Golden State Warriors’ other key players fared?

It’s been nearly four months since Stephen Curry broke his left hand. It may be another couple of days before he makes his return, which he’ll do four months to the day after the first game he missed if he returns on Sunday as originally planned. In the interim, the Golden State Warriors have been the NBA’s worst team, amassing an 11-43 record in his absence. Their defense has been dreadful and ranks 26th in the NBA, and their offense has been even worse, ranking dead last.

They have two more games left before Steph gets back on the floor (including what is sure to be a bloodbath Thursday against the Lakers), but now feels like as good a time as any to check in on what we’ve learned about the guys who have taken the floor for Golden State while Curry’s been sidelined.

Draymond Green

Anyone who thought Draymond Green was going to dog it with Steph and Klay Thompson out, Kevin Durant in Brooklyn, Andre Iguodala watching his investments and Shaun Livingston retired was dead wrong. Yes, Draymond has taken a few games off here and there for “rest” purposes, but when he’s been on the floor, he has played damn hard every night. His shooting is a much more pronounced issue (43.5 percent, including 31.9 percent from 3) without the Splash Brothers, but he has continued to defend, rebound and dish the ball at a high level.

Damion Lee

After spending last season and the first half of this one on a two-way contract, Steph’s brother-in-law earned himself a regular contract by proving himself worthy of a rotation spot in the league.

Damion Lee has good size and strength, and when left open, he can make defenses pay by knocking down the open look. He’s at nearly 37 percent on 250-plus 3-point attempts over the past two seasons, a nice mark that should get better if and when he plays minutes alongside better teammates.

He has also shown the ability to keep the line moving when he pump fakes and puts the ball on the floor, and he’s working on career-high assist numbers per game, per 36 minutes, and as a percentage of teammate baskets while on the floor. That’s an important skill to flash when you play on a team that moves the ball like the full-strength Warriors, and should help him fit in with the stars when they return to the floor.

Lee has some work to do on defense, but his height and length make him a reasonable matchup for most NBA wings. If he can put things together on that end (an open question considering he’s already 27 years old), he could eventually become a neutral or slightly positive defender.

Eric Paschall

Landing a quality role player on the cheap is one of the best ways to extend the window of a contender, and that’s what the Warriors did here. Eric Paschall is under contract for two more seasons after this one and will make a combined $3.3 million in that time.

He may not look it, but Paschall is one of the most athletic players in the NBA. He registered the highest bSPARQ rating of any combo forward in the history of our database at NBAthlete.com, and he counts uber-athletes like James Johnson and Derrick Williams among his closest athletic comparisons. That athleticism has allowed him to contribute as a solid, if inconsistent, multi-positional defender, and it should help him fit in when he has more than just Draymond to pick up the slack behind him.

Paschall’s shooting has fallen off since a hot start to the season, but he finishes well around the rim and has a solid mid-range game and good free-throw percentage, indicating the potential to stretch his jumper out beyond the arc with some work. He could stand to be more consistent on the glass and somewhat less adventurous with his passes, but not having to handle quite as large a role could free him up to do both of those things.

All things considered, Paschall’s emergence as a quality rotation player is either the best or second-best thing the Warriors have gotten out of this season so far.

The other big guys

Marquese Chriss looking like an actual NBA player is one of the bigger upsets of the season. (The Warriors stacking former Phoenix Suns lottery picks who quickly washed out — they also signed Dragan Bender — is a close second.) Chriss has always been a really good athlete, but he looked pretty clueless on the court for much of the early portion of his career. He still is not much of a defender, but he’s at least shown ways he can impact the game as a screen-and-roll guy and rebounder. With many teams going center-by-committee these days, that type of player has a place in the league, even if it’s not a huge one and even if he seems likely to be marginalized in a playoff rotation if he’s ever on a playoff team.

The less said about Kevon Looney‘s season, the better. Let’s actually just move on from him and come back next year.

Alen Smailagic has yet to show the promise that made him a coveted player out of the G League last season, but he also hasn’t been given all that much of an opportunity. Even amidst tons of injuries, Smailagic has only played 139 minutes and appeared in just 14 games. He’s still only 19 years old, though, so there is plenty of room for him to grow over the next couple years.

Juan Toscano-Anderson has made it into just six games, but he seems like an interesting, versatile player. He’s packed a lot of production into his time on the floor and had two games where he kind of went off: 10 points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block in 25 minutes against the Houston Rockets and 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists, a steal and two blocks against the New Orleans Pelicans — and all on 11-of-19 shooting, including 3-of-7 from deep. I honestly hadn’t heard of him before he showed up on the court, but he looks intriguing.

The young guards

Ky Bowman and Jordan Poole have a bit of a ways to go before they can be considered positive rotation players. Despite his slight stature (6-foot-1, 181 pounds), Bowman appears to be closer because he has a bit more dynamism and passing ability (and confidence in it). He does seem like more of an energy guard off the bench who you can easily just not stick with if he doesn’t have it going, but there’s some skill there.

Poole is not particularly close to being ready to contribute at a high level just yet. He’s a subpar athlete, which has made finishing at the rim extremely difficult, and his jumper has been a disaster all season. He needs a Year 2 leap to remain viable.

Next: What your NBA MVP favorite says about you





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