The player development effort that the Warriors launched four years ago didn’t offer much help in Game 6, leaving them in a must-win situation Sunday in Sacramento, writes Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic.
Thompson notes that Golden State has already given up on the two-timeline plan that was supposed to enable the team to remain title contenders without heavy minutes from the veteran core. He adds that seven veterans are likely to see the bulk of the playing time on Sunday, but the team could use a contribution from at least one of its young players.
Thompson points to a decision the Warriors made to focus on young talent after losing in the 2019 NBA Finals. They’ve had five first-round picks since then — and 11 draft choices overall — and they’ve hired five coaches to handle player development, but the payoff wasn’t there when they needed it most. Thompson notes that Jordan Poole had a terrible game on Friday, Gary Payton II played less than 11 minutes and Jonathan Kuminga was barely used at all. James Wiseman, the other hoped-for gem of the development program, was traded to the Pistons in February.
The Warriors’ offseason moves haven’t worked out either, Thompson adds, creating the need for a young player or two to step up. He states that Donte DiVincenzo hasn’t matched his regular season production in the playoffs, JaMychal Green doesn’t have a rotation role and coach Steve Kerr doesn’t seem to trust Anthony Lamb, whose two-way contract was converted to a standard deal so he could be playoff-eligible.
There’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Warriors forward Draymond Green often finds himself cast as an antagonist, but it’s not a role he seeks out, per Ron Kroichick of The San Francisco Chronicle. “I just be myself,” he said after Game 5. “I don’t go chasing after some villain title. Being the villain is no fun, it’s not enjoyable. But I’m also never ducking any smoke, whether that’s with a player or a fan or a fan base.”
- Kings center Domantas Sabonis doesn’t expect to be hampered by a left eye injury he suffered when he was hit by Kevon Looney during a jump ball on Friday night. Sabonis displayed the damage during a session with reporters at Saturday’s practice (video link from James Ham of ESPN 1320). He said there’s no damage to the orbital bone, but there’s not a treatment that can improve the eye before Sunday’s game.
- Following their first-round playoff exit, the Clippers have to decide whether they want to shake up their roster again just months after trading Reggie Jackson, John Wall and Luke Kennard, notes Janis Carr of The Orange County Register.