The Golden State Warriors have had a rough start to the year. They currently sit at 5-8 on the season and are 0-7 on the road, including their most recent loss to the Sacramento Kings. After that game, Draymond Green was asked about their bench struggles.
He blamed a part of it on Jordan Poole and the bench’s different style of play from in years past.
“I think it’s a lot different,” Green explained. “For the most part, coming off the bench, we’ve had kind of an elder statesman, if you will. [Someone] that would come off the bench, kind of slow things down, right the ship. And it’s different now, where you come off the bench, and the reality is, the first guy you come off the bench with is usually JP. And JP is a sixth starter. And so that’s a different feel.”
So far this season, the Warriors’ bench ranks 13th in scoring at 34.3 points per game (in large part thanks to Poole’s contributions), but they fall short in many other categories.
The bench ranks 20th in field goal percentage (44.6%), 28th in three-point percentage (30.6%), 23rd in rebounding (13.0), and 30th in turnovers (7.3). But worst of all, the bench has a league-worst -6.7 plus/minus on the season. The next-worst bench unit is the Detroit Pistons’, which sits at -4.8, so there is a large gap between Golden State and the next team in that regard.
Bench Needs to Learn to Play With Poole
The blaming of Poole isn’t exactly the guard’s fault, however. While his playstyle is vastly different from past Golden State bench units, it’s only because he’s a far better player than they’ve had come off the bench.
Green said that, in the past, the Warriors’ bench would play a different style of basketball than the starters. But because Poole plays so similarly to Stephen Curry, it’s almost as if the second unit is playing the same style as the first unit.
“And I think when you’re starting to get more guys in there, and it’s turning into the second unit, as opposed to more of the first unit guys,” Green said. “Whereas it used to be a kind of a different offense, if you will. It’s more like the same. And I think we have to figure that out in that second unit and understand that, you know, what you’re accustomed to is, Steph goes out the game and the whole offense changes, and it’s more sets. But with Jordan is still going to be more of the same as you get with Steph, and I think guys have to really adjust to that, and it’s taken some time to adjust to that.”
Bench Doesn’t Play With Curry
While the starting unit has had ample success with Curry, the bench isn’t used to playing with a player like that. Green said that they have to adjust to the “randomness” that Poole plays with.
“For the majority of those guys, they don’t play a ton with Steph,” said Green. “So they don’t really understand that. Whereas opposed to when Jordan comes in with us, and we’ve played with Steph for so long, we understand the randomness of it. I think that group has to start understanding the randomness of it. But you know that, like I said, that takes time.”
Until the bench learns to do that, the struggles are likely to continue.