Warriors Roster Crunch Bugs Steve Kerr Everyday: ‘It’s Really Hard’

Brandin Podziemski, Chris Paul, Trayce Jackson-Davis, Warriors

Getty Brandin Podziemski #2 of the Golden State Warriors grabs a loose ball against Zeke Nnaji #22 of the Denver Nuggets.

Draymond Green‘s indefinite suspension and Gary Payton II‘s injury proved to be a blessing in disguise for the Golden State Warriors.

Steve Kerr finally found stability in his rotation with their two key players out. They are 5-2, including rattling off five straight wins, since Green’s suspension.

If not for Stephen Curry’s Christmas curse and Klay Thompson’s shooting blip, the Warriors could have taken down the defending champion Denver Nuggets and extended their win streak to six.

With Payton II set to return sometime this week or early next week, and Green working hard behind the scenes for a potential January return, Kerr will again have difficult decisions to make.

“I think about it every day,” Kerr told reporters after December 27 practice. “That is my job, of course.”

“It’s really hard. Some years, it’s just really obvious who your top nine are, and you just roll with those guys. The guys 10 to 14 understand their roles, and you work with them. You try to fit them in to keep them going.”

“This year is very different in that regard. We can play 13 guys in the rotation. Any one of them and every one of them is qualified to be out there and could make the case that they should be out there, but you can only play nine or 10. Very difficult decisions.”

Settling With New Starting 5

Without Green and Payton II, Kerr has settled in nicely with a starting five of Curry, gutsy rookie Brandin Podziemski, Thompson, Jonathan Kuminga and Kevon Looney.

That starting unit has a better offensive flow than their traditional five with Green and Wiggins instead of Podziemski and Kuminga. The Warriors’ new starting unit is 14.5 points better per 100 possessions than their old five, according to the NBA advanced stats.

Demoted Andrew Wiggins gave the second unit anchored by veterans Chris Paul and Dario Saric a savvy go-to-wing scorer. Rookie big man Trayce Jackson-Davis had also given them a huge lift. Moses Moody is the odd man on the outside looking in.

Moody played only two minutes on Christmas Day against the Nuggets.

Warriors’ Deep Bench

The Warriors have a top-4 bench in the NBA this season in terms of offensive (64.3) and net (3.0) ratings.

The early returns of their new-look second unit with Wiggins, Paul, Saric, Moody and alongside starter Podziemski have been solid. They are outscoring opponents by 11.5 points per 100 possessions in 32 minutes across six games.

A lineup with Jackson-Davis flanked by the Splash Brothers with Paul and Kuminga is whipping up a whopping 34.2 net rating in 23 minutes across five games.

Their best five during their resurgence is a lineup of Paul, Podziemski, Thompson, Kuminga and Saric, who are outscoring opponents by a staggering 53.9 points per 100 possessions in 29 minutes across six games.

Podziemski has been a constant in the Warriors’ best lineups. Early in the season, he and Jackson-Davis were not part of the rotation. But the rookies have forced Kerr’s hands to play them with their heady performances.

So who will Kerr take out when he finally gets the full complement of this deep Warriors roster?

“[Having] Gary back, getting Draymond back, those questions get louder, and we have to figure that out as a staff.”

Will Mike Dunleavy Jr. and the Warriors front office help Kerr with a consolidation trade?


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