Draymond Green Injury Brings Rare Opportunity for Warriors Rookie

Draymond Green

Christian Petersen/Getty Images Draymond Green

The Golden State Warriors got some bad news over the weekend. The team found out that they’ll be without star Draymond Green, for at least two more weeks. Initially, he was diagnosed with a calf injury, but on Sunday the team announced that a lower back injury has been causing the soreness.

It’s been obvious how much the Warriors miss Green during his absence. The team has gone just 1-4, in the five games since he went out. It’s clear the team has missed his defense, passing, and leadership. Despite the tough loss of Green, there is some good news this week for the Warriors.

Upcoming Schedule

One good thing on the horizon for the Warriors, is that the schedule lightens up a lot this week. Along with returning home for a seven-game homestand, the team starts the stretch with three of the worst teams in the league. The Warriors will play the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday, the Indiana Pacers on Thursday, and the Houston Rockets on Friday. Those three teams are a combined 54 games below .500 this season.

With such a weak three game stretch, its’ an opportunity for the Warriors to pick up some wins without Green in the lineup. With the weaker opponents, it’s also a chance for the team to experiment with their line ups to see if they can figure out how to plug the absence of Green.

Chance For Other Players to Step Up

With the loss of Green, one player that has immediately gotten more opportunity is rookie Jonathan Kuminga. He’s played in four of the five games that Green has missed, averaging 24.5 minutes per game. So far he’s made the most of his opportunity, averaging 18 points and 5.75 rebounds per game.

Kuminga gives the Warriors something different than the other reserve post players. His athleticism allows him to put more pressure on the defense, than other post players like Nemanja Bjelica, Otto Porter Jr., or Kevon Looney. Kuminga’s ability to attack the rim, makes him a very efficient two point scorer. According to Cleaning the Glass, Kuminga shoots 57.6% on two pointers.

With Green out, it probably means that Jordan Poole will get more playing time as well. Since the return of Klay Thompson, Poole has moved into a sixth man role. While he may not return to the starting line up in with Green out, he’ll probably see close to starter minutes.

Speaking of Thompson, with his minutes increasing, the Warriors are certainly hopeful that it will lead to increased production from him. One other thing that would help the team, is if Steph Curry can get out of his recent shooting slump.  Over his last ten games, Curry has shot just 30.9% from three and 35.7% from the field. The problem is without Green, the Warriors have trouble keeping up their pace and spacing.

“Pace,” head coach Steve Kerr answered when asked where they missed Green. “He just keeps the pace going for our team so well. Made baskets, he gets the ball and pushes it up the floor, keeps the defense on their heels. I didn’t feel like we played with much pace tonight.”

It’ll be interesting to see if Kerr and his staff can come up with any answers, during the upcoming three game stretch. They’ll need to, as the last four games of the home stand come against the Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Brooklyn Nets.

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