When Draymond Green finally returned to the lineup, the Golden State Warriors were hoping they would have the bulk of the roster back in time to have regular season games to get in tune before the postseason. Well, just like most of the season has gone, players have failed to stay on the court consistently.
Steph Curry sprained a ligament in his left foot on March 16, when Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart dived into his foot while he was going for the ball. The Dubs and Curry are optimistic that he will be back in time for the start of the playoffs that begin on April 16.
All that being said, the offense has been sputtering without the former MVP on the floor. The lack of spacing has forced coach Steve Kerr’s hand to make constant lineup changes, much to the chagrin of fans.
“We’re going to have a ton of flexibility these last eight games,” Kerr tells the media after March 25’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks. “Without Steph, it changes everything for us with the domino effect of different rotations.”
Kerr tells Anthony Slater of the Athletic during shootaround on March 25 that players’ roles on this team has been the most difficult to define in all of Kerr’s teams through the years. The combination of rookies (Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody) making such a positive impact on the floor and veterans coming in and out of the lineup due to injury has forced the Warriors to make 26 different starting lineups this season.
Kevon Looney Victim of Rotation Changes
Despite this season’s roster moving like a revolving door, Looney has been the one reliable key clog every game. He went into this year with the goal to play in every single game, and Looney has delivered on that.
Unfortunately, due to the team’s recent struggles, Kerr decided to have Looney come off the bench, the first time the big man will do so this season.
“With Draymond back, I decided to separate Draymond and Loon in order to get more spacing,” Kerr says after March 25’s game. “Without Steph, spacing is more magnified. Steph sort of negates the lack of spacing in terms of lineup combinations.”
Without Curry’s shooting and ability to space the floor, having two non-shooters in today’s NBA is considered a liability. Over the years, Looney and Green have played countless minutes together, but without three premium shooters playing alongside the duo, the offense fails to keep up on offense against opposing teams.
“It’s not a Warriors season unless a center gets benched at least one time,” Looney jokes about his benching to the Athletic’s Slater.
The former UCLA big has always handled his change in roles with class. Looney never outwardly complains, and understands that whatever decision that is made is for the betterment for the team.
“Big shoutout to Loon,” Klay Thompson says after March 25’s loss. “He’s such a great professional. He’s been a rock for us the whole season, hasn’t missed a game…I’m very impressed with Looney’s professionalism. He’s one of the best in the biz. I look forward to him getting rewarded for it this summer in free agency.”
James Wiseman’s Absence Puts Pressure on Green and Looney at the Five
With the Warriors ruling out Wiseman for the remainder of the season, the Dubs will have to figure out how to deal with opposing bigs. Nikola Jokic and Karl-Anthony Towns will undoubtedly give the Dubs trouble in the playoffs, and the team will need to figure out how to deal with them.
Green and Looney are listed at 6’6” and 6’9” respectively, so it will be tough for the Dubs to consistently out rebound other teams. More pressure will be relied on the offense to perform at an elite level, and the margin for error will be that much smaller.