The Warriors‘ incredible misfortune with injuries provides the organization with an opportunity to work out some important issues before next season, writes Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle. At the top of the list is determining whether D’Angelo Russell is a long-term fit in the Golden State backcourt.
Russell was the Warriors’ top acquisition of the summer and the player they reached out to when they learned that Kevin Durant was headed to the Nets. He came at a high price, as a complicated sign-and-trade with Brooklyn imposed a hard cap and left the team with little maneuverability once injuries started to hit.
Russell was an All-Star last season, but didn’t get off to a strong start with his new team, Letourneau adds. He wasn’t comfortable in the Warriors’ motion offense and had the worst offensive rating through the first four games among 11 players who saw regular minutes. However, now that Curry is out for at least three months with a broken hand, Russell can run the high pick-and-rolls that he is more familiar with.
Russell’s greatest long-term value to the organization may be as a trade chip. If the front office decides he won’t fit in with Curry and Klay Thompson, Russell could be moved either at the deadline or next summer. He would likely bring back a collection of talent that could help a healthier Warriors team return to title contention in 2020/21.
- Eric Paschall has been one of the few bright spots in a dismal start, Letourneau states in the same piece. The rookie big man out of Villanova has shown an ability to contribute on both ends of the court and may have an expanded role while Draymond Green is sidelined with a torn ligament in his finger. Letourneau notes that the Warriors have so much money invested in four players that they need to find second-round steals like Paschall to fill out the roster.
- The Russell trade was doubly costly because the Warriors were forced to part with Andre Iguodala to open enough cap room to make the deal work, points out Douglas Farmer of Basketball Insiders. Iguodala could have helped stabilize a defense that has been among the league’s worst.
- The Warriors could take a lesson in how to survive their decline from the Heat, suggests Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Miami had a four-year run of dominance, but fell on similar hard times after LeBron James left in 2014. “You’ve got to have the right veterans to kind of fill in the gaps and patch up the holes and keep guys together,” Udonis Haslem said. “It’s not necessarily always going to be on the court. Sometimes, you’ve got to control the locker room.”