The Golden State Warriors will look to extend their current five-game winning streak when they face the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday. Thanks to Stephen Curry’s hot hand, the Warriors have claimed the top spot in the Western Conference standings from the Denver Nuggets. It hasn’t been all good news for Golden State, as defensive stalwart Draymond Green is enduring a subpar season on offense. With DeMarcus Cousins set to debut for the Warriors later this week, Green’s role with the team could shift going forward.
Green’s struggles aside, coach Steve Kerr’s squad is primed to secure a victory over a Pelicans team that has underachieved to start the year. Here is a look at what the Cousins-less Warriors rotation will look like tonight:
*Notates expected starter
PG: Stephen Curry*, Shaun Livingston, Quinn Cook
SG: Klay Thompson*, Jacob Evans
SF: Kevin Durant*, Andre Iguodala, Alfonzo McKinnie
PF: Draymond Green*, Jonas Jerebko
C: Kevon Looney*, Jordan Bell
Adapting to Cousins’ Arrival
Green is the likely candidate to undergo the biggest change once Cousins returns to the lineup. The former Defensive Player of the Year should see better opportunities on the offensive end immediately. If Cousins returns to form quickly, his presence will put an even bigger burden on opposing defenses. Curry, Durant, and Thompson form a deadly offense threat–adding Cousins to the mix will only cause bigger headaches for teams looking to upset the defending champions. Green, who is already enjoying extra space on offense, could potentially find even better looks when partnered with Cousins in the post.
Cousins’ Expected Return
Unfortunately for Cousins, he won’t be able to return in time to face his former team on Wednesday. The wait is nearly over for the Warriors, though. On Tuesday, coach Kerr revealed to The Athletic’s Anthony Slater that Cousins is on track to return for Golden States trip to Los Angeles.
Cousins made waves over the summer by signing a team-friendly deal with the Warriors. Already loaded with talent, adding Cousins bolstered Golden State’s chances of claiming the title for the fourth time in five years. Serious injury concerns do exist for the former Pelicans star, as Achilles injuries often take a heavy toll on NBA players. Cousins tore his Achilles on January 26 of last year. Thanks to the Warriors’ proven cast of contributors, the former Kentucky standout has been able to approach his return cautiously.
Upon his return, Cousins will join a Warriors squad that is positioned to claim homecourt advantage in the Western Conference Playoffs. Golden State holds a slight 0.5 lead over Denver for the top spot and is 4.5 games in front of the fourth-seeded Houston Rockets.