The Golden State Warriors began their 2020-21 NBA season this past Saturday with a 107-105 win against the Denver Nuggets. While this season will be one for the record books regardless of the outcome, it was the first time this Warriors team got to play with another against an opponent since the league-wide shut down back in March.
While many may have looked at the numbers of two-time MVP Steph Curry (10 points and 3 assists in just over 21 minutes of play) or potential rising star Andrew Wiggins (8 points in almost 19 minutes of play) they may have overlooked a new Warriors player whose defense and intensity began to jump out in their first game with the team.
Golden State swingman Kelly Oubre Jr. only scored 10 points in his debut but had a good night overall adding 3 blocks, 2 assists, and 4 rebounds within the 22 minutes and 8 seconds he was on the court.
Most notably, his defensive intensity is what stood out to those who watched him play. Alongside protecting the rim at times, via his 3 blocks, he also picked up Nuggets star guard Jamal Murray fullcourt several times throughout the game. Once the game finished, Warriors coach Steve Kerr had positive comments about Oubre Jr.’s defense and the challenge he brought to the Nuggets.
Excellent. He’s not afraid to guard the ball and take on the toughest challenge. I thought he did a really good job.
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What Kerr Said About Another Warriors Player
Head coach Kerr didn’t stop there about the Warriors’ defense. He also complimented another former Kansas Jayhawk turned Warrior who played well on the defensive end, Andrew Wiggins.
I loved Andrew’s defense, as well. A lot of active plays coming from the weakside — going up to challenge guy’s shots from behind, sort of coming out of nowhere to bother shooters.
Having two swingmen of this caliber on the Warrior roster is a major bonus for the team going forward. The NBA is full of guards and forwards who will bring their “A” game every night against this team and its stars and they’ll need the defensive intensity and consistency from both players to detur them.
Warriors Missing Two Major Players
This season is going to be a tough one for this Warriors team as the western conference is as good as it has ever been. There are a handful of teams that all have a legitimate chance to win over 45-50 games.
Before the season began, the Warriors were by and large one of the teams on that list. However, the right Achilles tear to All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson derailed the possibility of them being an upper-echelon team.
Yet the Warriors will be getting a boost soon. Two players who are expected to contribute greatly this season, former Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green and #2 overall selection of the 2020 NBA Draft James Wiseman, are both out due to testing positive for coronavirus.
Both are expected to miss a large part, if not all, of the preseason. While it may take a couple of games and practices to get them both up to speed, the Warriors will massively benefit from having the skillset and knowledge of Green anchoring their defense and the athletic and physical prowess of Wiseman protecting the rim.
Adding those two alongside their duo of very capable and willing defenders in Oubre Jr. and Wiggins while certainly wreak havoc against some offenses and may get the Warriors back into the coveted Top 10 defensive ranking in the league.