Warriors Analyst Calls for Big Change to Starting Lineup

Getty It might be time to start Chris Paul full time.

It might be time to make some changes in Golden State.

The Warriors finally broke their six-game losing streak on Monday, November 20th with a 121-116 win over the Houston Rockets behind Steph Curry’s 32 points and Chris Paul’s double-double, but the Dubs are still — for their standards — thoroughly underachieving expectations so far this season.

Now 7-8, Golden State is currently 10th in the Western Conference and do not look ready to compete with the elite teams of the NBA like Denver and Boston.

Of course, 15 games do not a season make, and the Warriors have plenty of time to make adjustments and start playing like the elite team they can be. Marcus Thompson II, who covers the Warriors for The Athletic, thinks one of those adjustments might need to happen within the starting lineup.

According to Thompson, who appeared on the Murph & Mac show on KNBR 104.5 in the Bay Area, the Warriors should keep Chris Paul in the starting five even after forward Draymond Green returns from his suspension.

“Chris Paul is better when he starts,” Thompson said. “And it’s hard to look now, through this stretch of games and say they’re not better when Chris Paul is better.” Paul has started all four games since Green’s suspension, averaging 14.2 points, 8.7 assists, and 2.2 steals per game and shooting 61% from three-point range (13/21) in those contests.

“To me, it’s more valuable to Steph, to Klay, for Chris Paul to start the game,” Thompson continued.

Starter Chris Paul = Super Small Ball?

If Chris Paul stays in the starting five long-term, then another Warriors player will be forced into a bench role. “It’s gotta be Looney at this point,” Thompson said when asked who CP3 would replace in the lineup.

The Warriors starting five of Curry, Thompson, Wiggins, Green and Looney has been one of the NBA’s most dominant lineups in previous seasons, so breaking up that group would be a risk. But a risk might be necessary with Golden State currently playing below its full capabilities.

A Curry-Paul-Thompson-Wiggins-Green lineup is ultra-small. Even with Green remaining one of the league’s most versatile defenders, him matching up with true centers at the onset of each game might lead to some tough defensive matchups for the Dubs.

Thompson also added that Chris Paul “Can’t just be the Kuminga whisperer,” referring to Paul’s ability to get the most out of his teammates.

The Kuminga Conundrum

Jonathan Kuminga is one of the most promising young players in the league. But the promise of talent does not always translate to productive minutes.

Now in his third season, “JK” is averaging a career-high in points, but his efficiency is down across the board. Similar to his rookie and sophomore seasons, Kuminga has flashed greatness (like scoring 10+ points in seven straight games from November 3 to November 12) but can’t consistently turn his intangible talents into tangible, helpful play.

Podziemski Pushing For Minutes

Chris Paul was supposed to bring offensive stability to Golden State’s bench, so production from the second unit would be another potential problem that arises if CP3 joins the starting unit. Thus, Kerr inserting CP3 into the starting lineup full-time would signal a vote of confidence from Kerr in rookie Brandin Podziemski, who would be tasked with an even larger role in the Warriors’ second unit.

Podziemski was an elite shooter during his one season at Santa Clara (43.8% from 3PT on 5.8 attempts per game) and has carried that shooting proficiency with him to Chase Center. He is shooting a blistering 45.5% from deep as a Warrior – while passing and defending at a pretty high level, too.

Trusting a rookie to “lead” the second unit of a team with championship aspirations is a risk in itself. But the end of November is a great time to test out different lineups and combinations to make sure everything is meshing right come April and May.