The Warriors have a lot of problems to solve and are running out of time to fix them.
After Sunday’s loss to the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena, Golden State has lost five of six since Steph Curry went down with a sprained ligament in his left foot. Their defense has been porous, the offense disjointed, and with just seven games remaining in the regular season, head coach Steve Kerr needs to find the right buttons to press and lineup combinations to utilize to put the Warriors in the best possible position for when the playoffs begin April 16.
Whatever plan Kerr conjures up over the final seven games, it should include a lot of Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody.
This isn’t a “play the kids because the title dreams are dead” bit. It’s a “play the kids because they give you the best chance” bit.
Before Sunday night’s loss to the Wizards, Kuminga was averaging 13.4 points per game on 52.7 percent shooting in 24 minutes per game in 13 March games. Moody worked his way into the rotation and averaged 9.5 points per game while shooting 56.3 percent from the floor and 44.4 from 3-point range in 20.6 minutes per game from March 1 to March 14.
Even at full health, Kuminga and Moody are two of the Warriors’ best eight players and have incredibly high game-to-game ceilings. With Curry out, Draymond Green knocking off the rust from a 31-game absence, and Klay Thompson lacking consistency, the Warriors should turn to Kuminga and Moody more down the stretch.
That hasn’t happened over the past week as Kerr has tried to mix-and-match lineups with Curry sidelined.
On Sunday, Kuminga started in place of Kevon Looney and played 13 first-half minutes. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Otto Porter Jr. coming out of the break and was a DNP in the second half.
Moody suffered a shoulder injury on March 16 against the Boston Celtics. He was listed as day-to-day and logged five minutes in a loss against the Orlando Magic and 17 in a win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday. He did not play Friday against the Atlanta Hawks or Sunday against the Wizards, listed as a DNP-Coach’s Decision.
After the loss to the Wizards, Kerr said he went away from Kuminga because he wanted more shooting next to Green.
“We needed the floor spacing,” Kerr told reporters Sunday when asked why he chose to insert Porter for Kuminga. “I think we needed to surround Draymond with another shooter. I thought JK struggled in the first half. It wasn’t his night. He’s still a rookie. Rookies are going to have some ups and downs. He has had some great games for us, and then some games where things have been moving quickly, and we’ve sputtered. It wasn’t his fault what happened in the first half. It was our fault collectively. But in order to put our best foot forward in the second half, I felt like I had to go to veterans and to combinations that had more spacing, and that’s why I went to Otto.”
Kerr also elected to play Damion Lee for 18 minutes on Sunday instead of turning to Moody, who is shooting 43.3 percent from beyond the arc in March.
The Warriors are searching for answers as the season winds down. It’s second nature for a coach to turn to veterans to steady the ship. But in this case, Kerr should lean on the Warriors’ youth to give them a jolt.
RELATED: Warriors can’t achieve goals until Draymond finds his game
With Curry out, the Warriors should have a clear eight-man man rotation of Jordan Poole, Thompson, Green, Andrew Wiggins, Kevon Looney, Porter, Kuminga, and Moody, with Gary Payton II getting run in certain spots.
Losers of 10 of their last 15, the Warriors’ best chance of finding footing before the playoffs begin is to give Kuminga and Moody consistent playing time next to Thompson, Green, Poole, and Wiggins to have somewhat of a cohesive group for the postseason.
If Moody and Kuminga’s minutes continue to ebb and flow over the final seven games, it will be hard to expect consistent production from them when the Warriors need it most.
The Warriors entered the season asking Kuminga and Moody to sit, watch, develop and earn their NBA minutes. The rookie duo did that and played their way into Kerr’s rotation. They have done nothing to play their way out other than show expected moments of youth.
With the Warriors sinking and Curry in a boot, Golden State has to put its faith in its most talented players, regardless of experience, to turn things around.
You’ll see that Monday night in Memphis when the Warriors are expected to sit Thompson, Green, and Porter. After beating the Heat last Wednesday, don’t be surprised if Poole, Kuminga, and Moody again lead the shorthanded Warriors to an upset win.
After all, the kids are pretty damn good, and they are the Warriors’ best chance to stabilize the ship before the playoffs begin and Curry hopefully returns.
Download and follow the Dubs Talk Podcast
function getCookie(cname) let name = cname + "="; let decodedCookie = decodeURIComponent(document.cookie); let ca = decodedCookie.split(';'); for (let i = 0; i < ca.length; i++) let c = ca[i]; while (c.charAt(0) == ' ') c = c.substring(1); if (c.indexOf(name) == 0) return c.substring(name.length, c.length); return ""; if (getCookie('usprivacy') === '1YYN') fbq('dataProcessingOptions', ['LDU'], 0, 0); fbq('init', '674090812743125'); fbq('track', 'PageView');