The Scouting Report: Golden State Warriors
Projected starting line-up: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Brandon Rush, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut
Injuries: Leandro Barbosa (left shoulder) out, James Michael McAdoo (toe) doubtful, Harrison Barnes is healthy but is on something of a minutes restriction
The greatest team of all time through 35 games have started Brandon Rush for over half of those games. What a time to be alive.
The Warriors enter Friday night with the best record all-time through 35 games and are legitimate challengers to the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls record. Their point differential and dominant 67-win last season was a sign of just how special this group was, something they’ve reinforced this season, so that any people who were too late to notice the first act can cherish the second one.
For the first time, the overarching NBA narrative’s central character is not LeBron James, but Stephen Curry and his Warriors. Curry has been battling a shin injury for the past few weeks and the long-term diagnosis on the injury doesn’t sound great, but it doesn’t sound terrible either. If he can get through the next four weeks with minimal contact on the shin, it’s great and the historic season can resume as planned. He has gotten it hit a couple of times since he’s tried to come back, so obviously it sounds a lot easier than it is. If Curry has to sit for an extended period, Golden State’s run at history would be awful tough to keep up.
The reason they’ve played so well, even without Curry, has been the great versatility of their team and the great versatility of their second star, Draymond Green. The Warriors have many different forms they can take and Green, too, is a shapeshifter defensively. He’s capable of guarding Chris Paul on the perimeter and hanging with Rudy Gobert under the basket. But he’s been even better this season as an offensive player.
His improvement as a 3-point shooter, raising his percentage to 41 percent makes his pick and roll game even more deadly. Green is the master of the short roll and the 3-on-2 situation. The match-up between he and Noah Vonleh should be interesting to watch from a Blazers perspective. Offensively, Vonleh has shown many of the same strengths as green when it comes to being a playmaker after receiving a pass from a ballhandler. Defensively, he may be the only Blazer big who can keep up with Green from a quickness standpoint. But since Stotts rarely goes to Vonleh in extended mintues, I figure we’ll see Portland go for a smaller look with either Aminu or Moe Harkless on Green.
Klay Thompson running around screens and posting up can be a problem. While CJ McCollum has been gangbusters for the past few weeks and showed scoring that nobody can really stop, Thompson has a better chance than most starting two guards of hanging with him because of his quickness and 6-7 frame.
In the middle, Andrew Bogut has been playing some of his best basketball of the season lately. The Warriors just got Barnes back, which allows them to play their famous “line-up of death” with Barnes at power forward, Green at center, Andre Iguodala at small forward as well as the Splash Brothers.
So, run for the hills. Who are we kidding? Even the hills can’t save you from the Warriors.