Tag: Brandon Rush

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game One

Draymond Green at center gives Warriors wrinkle necessary to beat Rockets


After the Warriors’ 110-106 Game 1 over the Rockets, both coaches were asked about continuing to use small-ball lineups throughout the series.

“The one thing I can tell you is that both teams like to play small,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said.

Speak for yourself.

“No,” Houston coach Kevin McHale said. “I hope that Dwight is healthy and we can stay big. I like us playing when we play big. We didn’t have that option tonight with Dwight out.”

The Rockets didn’t show much against the Warriors’ small units with Dwight Howard, who’s battling injury.

Golden State outscored Houston 47-29 in 16 minutes with Draymond Green at center. When Howard was in, it was 12-2 Warriors in three minutes.

In his final six possessions against the Warriors’ small lineup, Howard committed three turnovers, missed a shot and got strongly boxed out by Green after two other Rockets missed.

Green – who finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and a block – sure enjoyed his last possession against Howard:

The Warriors played 330 minutes entering Game 1 with Green at center and four wings/guards – a collection of Harrison Barnes,Andre Iguodala,Stephen Curry,Klay Thompson,Shaun Livingston,Leandro Barbosa,Justin Holiday andBrandon Rush – behind him. The results have been spectacular:

  • Offensive rating: 120.4
  • Defensive rating: 93.0
  • Net rating: +27.4

All three marks would easily lead the league.

Tuesday, the Warriors kicked it into overdrive on both ends with Green at center:

  • Offensive rating: 138.2
  • Defensive rating: 87.9
  • Net rating: +50.3

It works offensively, because the Warriors have excellent shooters who love to get out in transition. Smaller lineups are faster lineups.

When most teams go small, they sacrifice defense. Not the Warriors.

“Draymond is one of the best defensive players in the league because he can guard low-post guys and perimeter guys,” Kerr said. “He can switch onto James Harden. He can guard Dwight Howard. Doesn’t mean he’s always going to get a stop, but he’s always going to put up a fight, and he’s got a chance.”

Green’s interior defense is excellent, though not unique. Other players can duplicate or even best his ability defend the paint, including teammate Andrew Bogut.

But find another player in Green’s interior-defensive class with his ability to lead the fastbreak, pass and shoot 3-pointers. Some of his defensive peers are lumbering centers who are offensive minuses or, best-case scenario, inside scorers. Green is a floor-spacer.

I think that often gets lost in discussions of Green’s defense. It’s his ability to defend while contributing so much on offense that sets him apart.

Green is the total package, and that shines through when he’s at center (thanks in part to his wonderfully capable perimeter teammates).

Kerr saw it tonight, and that’s why he wants to see more. McHale saw it, too – and that’s why he’s seen enough.

Warriors owner Joe Lacob on paying luxury tax next season: No choice

Phoenix Suns v Golden State Warriors

The Warriors have $78,772,757 committed to David Lee, Andrew Bogut, Andre Iguodala, Stephen Curry, Shaun Livingston, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Brandon Rush and Festus Ezeli next season.

Even if they fill the rest of their roster with minimum-salary players, they’d eclipse the projected luxury-tax line of $80.7 million.

Of course, they don’t want to fill their roster with just minimum-salary payers. They surely want to re-sign Draymond Green and exercise Marreese Speights’ $3,815,000 team option.

It’ll get costly, but it sounds as if Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are ready to foot the bill and let general manager Bob Myers keep the team together.

Lacob, in a Q&A with Tim Kawakami of Talking Points:

Are you prepared to go into the tax next summer to keep this team together?

-LACOB: Committed or not committed, I don’t think we have any other choice. Numbers would dictate–anyone can look at them–that we’re very likely in the luxury tax and very likely very substantially, next year.

And you know what? We’re OK with that. I tell Bob all the time; he keeps asking me, ‘Are you sure?’ We’re prepared to do whatever it takes to win a championship; I’ve said that before.

You want to do it when the timing is right. Maybe the timing’s right, right? We’re pretty good. And so, I think we need to take advantage of that and go for it.

-Q: So you’re re-signing Draymond Green?
-LACOB: Draymond Green! I’m not allowed per NBA rules as you know to make certain statements about who we’re going sign or how hard we’re going to try to sign that person.

What I will say is, he was born to be a Warrior. And we love him. I certainly think today as we look at our team, he’s part of our core and can’t imagine it being otherwise.

Lacob could announce his intention to re-sign Green – you can’t tamper with your own team – but his statement implies enough.

So, how much will this cost him and Guber?

Let’s create a scenario and assume the projected tax line sticks:

  • The Warriors get the No. 30 pick in the draft and give him the standard 120 percent of scale
  • Rush exercises his $1,270,964 player option
  • Golden State exercises Speights’ $3,815,000 team option
  • Green re-signs for a starting salary of $11 million
  • The Warriors sign two minimum-salary players

That roster would cost a whopping $128,335,643 – $96,614,269 in salaries and $31,721,374 in luxury-tax payments.

The Warriors could try to save money by letting Speights loose, trading their first-round pick or making some other deal. Trading Lee, who is set to make $15,493,680 on the final year of his contract next season, would be ideal and could even sneak Golden State under the tax line. But other teams won’t rush to pay Lee.

Lacob’s statement suggest the Warriors, who owe Utah their 2017 first rounder as a result of a previous salary dump, aren’t willing to send out the sweetener necessary to move Lee. If they were, paying the luxury tax wouldn’t be so inevitable.

Golden State has never paid the luxury tax, so no repeater penalties would apply, and this is unlikely to trigger a run of repeat-penalty-inducing tax seasons. With Lee’s contract off the books in 2016 and the salary cap set to skyrocket under the new national-TV contracts, the Warriors should have plenty of leeway. Only the 2015-16 season is sticky.

But if Lacob and Guber are willing to pay the luxury tax to get the team over the hump, Golden State fans should be thrilled. This is the exact time to pay the tax, when the team is contending.

It’s hard to see what would derail the Warriors this season. If the luxury tax isn’t an impediment, it’s hard to see what would derail them for coming seasons, either.

ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Golden State Warriors

2014 NBA Golden State Warriors Media Day Images

Last season: The Warriors continued their ascent under Mark Jackson – going from 23-43 to 47-35 to 51-31. Then, they fired Jackson.

Arguably, the team took a step back because it didn’t win a playoff series after upsetting the Nuggets the year prior. However, the Warriors – without an injured Andrew Bogut – pushed the Clippers, a better team than the 2012-13 Nuggets, to seven games in the first round. I’d argue Golden State improved, but so did the Western Conference.

Off the court, it was a weird year. Jackson had assistant coach Brian Scalabrine reassigned and then fired assistant Darren Erman. Questions swirled throughout the season, including during the playoffs, about Jackson’s own job security. That’s a lot of turmoil for a winning team.

Signature highlight from last season: The Warriors had more than their share of thrilling game-winning jumpers last season. I can’t pick just one two three four five, so I went with six:

Key offseason moves:

Keys to the Warriors season:

Steve Kerr hitting the ground running: On the court, the Warriors were doing well under Jackson.

Was he getting the most from the team? Maybe not, especially offensively. But the bar is high, and the players are largely the same with some small improvements on the bench.

All the pressure is on Kerr, who has no coaching experience.

Even an average offensive coach should help on that end, where Golden State ranked a surprisingly low 12th in points per possession last season. But it will be challenging for Kerr to improve the elite defense – and overall picture.

Relying on a starting lineup that works: Golden State’s starting lineup – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee and Andrew Bogut – posted the best net-rating among the NBA’s 30 most-used lineups. Only the Trail Blazers’ starters return in tact with more playing time together last year.

The Warriors’ starters have developed chemistry. They’ve performed well. And they’re all back.

Stick with what works.

Developing and implementing a bench: On the downside of having such a well-used starting lineup is the reserves often played only with each other, and those hockey-style line changes sometimes yielded negative results.

The talent is there to better integrate the bench players with the starters and find lineups that work.

Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes are reliably solid reserve options. Signing Livingston, though he’s injured, should help. Signing Rush and Barbosa could help. If Festus Ezeli gets healthy, he’s another piece.

The Warriors can become more complete.

Forgetting about Kevin Love: The Warriors seemed to be in position to trade for Kevin Love this summer by trading Klay Thompson, but they didn’t pull the trigger. Undoubtedly, there will be times Love excels in Cleveland, and everyone around Golden State – including in the locker room – wonders whether that was a mistake. It’s human nature.

But the Warriors can’t let them overwhelm what could be a very positive season.

Klay Thompson building off a great summer: Thompson, 24, is the only Warrior starter under 26. If that already-strong unit is going to progress, the pressure is on him more than anyone to elevate his game. It’s even higher considering Golden State kept him rather than trading for Love.

Thompson excelled, especially defensively, with Team USA this summer, and that could be a breakthrough for him. He’s at least in the conversation as the NBA’s best two-way shooting guard.

Whether or not Thompson gets an extension before the Oct. 31 deadline, the Warriors have put a lot of faith in him.

Why you should watch: Stephen Curry will retire as the best shooter of all time. He probably hasn’t earned that title quite yet, but he’s on track. He can pull up from anywhere on the court – and often does.

This team has so many skilled players, and when its offense is humming – which didn’t happen enough last season – it’s really a thing of beauty.

As last season showed, the Warriors have a high defensive ceiling, as Mark Jackson put even Curry and Lee in position to succeed. I don’t expect to see that repeated, but if it happens, Golden State’s defense is a fun watch for basketball junkies.

Prediction: 46-36. Maybe Steve Kerr makes the Warriors better in the long run – maybe. But I don’t see him stepping in with no coaching experience and instantly making the team better – especially not in such a challenging Western Conference.

The Warriors have enough talent to remain dangerous, and I expect the offense to improve while the defense slips. The team could look much different while producing similar results, but such a transition usually means some short-term slippage.