New look Warriors

The Golden State Warriors face an uncertain next 12 months. After reaching five consecutive NBA finals in which they won three, they retooled the roster in preparation for the 2020 season. While the All-Star core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green remains intact, Kevon Looney is the only other surviving member of their championship core.

The four games to two finals loss to Kawhi Leonard’s Raptors will still be raw in the minds of both players and fans. Before Thompson went down with a devastating ACL tear, it seemed like the Warriors were going to take the series to seven games and potentially win another title. The injuries suffered by Thompson and Kevin Durant may have ended the Warriors dynasty prematurely. But while the All-NBA talents of Curry, Draymond and Green remain, the Warriors will continue to be dangerous.

D’Angelo Russell

Many shocking moves were made during the first few days of Free Agency, none more so than D’Angelo Russell’s move to the Warriors. After Kevin Durant left, the Warriors were over the cap looking like there was no way to improve the team. By executing a sign and trade with the Nets it meant they got something back for Durant, while signing an All-Star and one of the best young guards in the game. Russell took a massive step forward last season for the Nets. Posting a career best stat line of 21 points, four rebounds and seven assists, Russell dragged the Nets back to the playoffs. His three point and mid range shooting were both improved, while his impressive handle and ball control opened up his passing game. With Thompson’s injury and the need to manage Curry’s minutes, Russell will be free to run amok with Draymond on offense.

Other signings

Though they had to say goodbye to key pieces Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala, this created space to enable them to stay competitive. Kevon Looney was a key resigning in this regard. At the bargain price of five million they brought back a guy with championship experience who can play on both ends. He will be a key part of the team moving forward. Being over the salary cap now means they have only been able to bring in players on minimum contracts.

Arguably the best center available at this price was Willie Cauley-Stein. An athletic rim running big, Willie is the energy piece the Warriors need. Playing for his next contract, he will provide great value on the minimum salary. Glenn Robinson III was also signed at the minimum. Robinson is an interesting prospect, still only 26. Coming off serious injuries the last few years, Robinson is an ex dunk contest winner who shot 39% from three point land for the Indiana Pacers. In real need of someone to play the three, Robinson if fit could have a breakout season for the Warriors.

There is one other intriguing signing who may have flown under the radar this summer. The Warriors traded two second round pick and cash to the New Orleans Pelicans to get 18 year old Alen Smailagic. The youngest ever G-league player at 17 last year, Smailagic has a unique blend of size and skill. At 6’10 he can shoot, put the ball on the floor and defend. With the Warriors star core all around the age of 30, young prospects like Smailagic are key to the future of the franchise.

Though this Warriors team may not contend for a championship this year, while they have four All-NBA talents they will continue to be a threat. If Klay Thompson returns and they are in the postseason, don’t be surprised to see another playoff run. There is no substitute for championship experience!

Warriors – Raptors Game One points

The Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors squared up in Game one of the NBA finals in Toronto yesterday. Led by Pascal Siakam’s 32 points, the Raptors comfortably put the Warriors away 118 – 109. Kevin Durant was cleared not fit to play, while DeMarcus Cousins was cleared for his first game since injuring his thigh in the first round of the Playoffs.

Draymond Green couldn’t guard Pascal Siakam

This Game was Siakam’s coming out party in this Playoffs. Though he had massive games in all three previous playoff rounds, his 32 points was a Playoff career high. The Warriors geared their defense towards shutting down Kawhi Leonard. By putting Draymond Green on Siakam, Coach Steve Kerr thought Green could help off of Siakam and shut Kawhi down. Siakam saw this as an opportunity to take it right to Green though. Siakam’s size advantage coupled with his ball handling and crafty post moves meant he was able to score on Green a massive seven times out of ten. Though Green is a great man defender he struggled to body up Siakam, and as he had picked up early fouls this made the job on Siakam even harder.

Marc Gasol’s game is a perfect for the Raptors

When Marc Gasol was traded to the Toronto Raptors at the trade deadline, Masai Ujiri knew he was getting an elite defender who could stretch the floor with shooting and passing ability. Gasol has surpassed expectations this postseason with his defensive savvy and timely scoring. On the Memphis Grizzlies he had almost double the usage he has now for Toronto. Not bothered by having less touches, he has been excellent at setting screens and passing out of the low post. He was a +8 in yesterdays game, his best rating since game five of the 76ers series.

In yesterdays game he defended all the way out to the perimeter when needed. He also hit two three pointers and had a game best 107 defensive rating when he was on the floor. The Warriors smaller lineups may struggle to defend him down low as they don’t have the massive rim presence that previous Raptors opponents had.

Fred VanVleet has improved as the Playoffs have gone on

After shooting a measly 12% in the series against the 76ers on only two points a game, Fred VanVleet bounced back to the tune of 47% shooting against the Bucks. Yesterday he was five of eight from the field and was a team high +11. His quickness and use of off ball screens mean he is a threat from anywhere on the court. While his catch and shoot game is also strong, his shooting came on in the last series when he was able to shoot three pointers from Kawhi Leonard drives. Not known as an elite defender, yesterday when guarding Stephen Curry he limited him to only one of six shooting. This is an added bonus for the Raptors if VanVleet can continue to limit Curry.

Bargain Basement Free Agents 2019 – Part two

In Part one, we focused on five free agents that teams over the cap could pick up cheaply and get value out of next season. Here’s the link to that article if you missed out.

https://steviecozens.com/2019/05/21/bargain-basement-free-agents-2019-part-one/

Seth Curry

Age – 28

Shooting Guard

Unrestricted Free Agent

2018/19 season – eight points, one rebound, one assist.

Seth Curry has come off an excellent year for the Portland Trail Blazers. Signed to a one year deal after missing all of last year due to injury, he played in the recently completed Conference Finals. Shooting an impressive 45% from three in the regular season, this ranked him in the 96th percentile for shooting guards. Though he only stands 6’2 he is a pesky defender who plays hard. He struggles against bigger players but his offense is strong enough to keep him on the court. Curry is also a career 50% shooter on corner threes.

While he isn’t a top level passer, he can hold his own in the pick and roll. He can also play some minutes at back up point guard if need be. In the Blazers series loss to the Warriors, Seth was very effective with an overall net rating of only -2. After a strong year at age 28, he looks to be past his injury issues. Three point shooting has good value in the market, so this may mean a deal of around the four – six million range. A three year deal in this range would represent strong value to potential suitors.

Cory Joseph

Age – 27

Combo Guard

Unrestricted Free Agent – Indiana Pacers have his early bid rights

2018/19 Season – six points, two rebounds, two assists

Cory Joseph had an up and down year for the Indiana Pacers. Struggling with his offense, his inconsistent shooting gave him the lowest field goal percentage since his rookie year. On the less glamorous end of the court he played the best defense of his career. Registering career highs in rebounds, assists and steals he helped Indiana to another Playoff appearance. They were a better team with him on the court, as evidenced by his +5.0 on / off rating. He also had a career high in offensive fouls drawn at 24, this was second only to Thaddeus Young on the Pacers team.

Per Cleaning the Glass he ranked in the 87th percentile for Combo Guards when it came to Steals this season. If prospective teams see his bad shooting year as a one off, then he can be a good acquisition as a backup guard. He wont drop 30 or 40 points a game but he matches up well against smaller guards and is a strong help defender. Its likely he will be in the 4 – 7 million range this season, At 27 a three to four year deal may suit both him and potential teams.

Wayne Ellington

Age – 31

Shooting Guard

Unrestricted Free Agent

2018/19 Season – ten points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal

Wayne Ellington finished the season on the Detroit Pistons, after first being traded by the Miami Heat and then waived by the Phoenix Suns. One of the most consistent three point shooters in the league, Ellington struggled to get playing time for the Heat due to fit and injury issues. He was back to his best when he hit the floor for the Pistons though. His on / off rating showing they were +5.0 points a game when he was on the floor. A career 38% shooter from three point range, he also hoisted at least 6.4 attempts a game the last three seasons.

High volume floor spacing is at a premium in the NBA these days, and as Ellington can hold his own on defense he will continue to get paydays in this league. He can defend without fouling and as a help defender he also jumps passing lanes to get steals. Paid 6.2 million the last two years on the Heat, he can expect a similar pay day this summer. He may get a two or three year deal at less money if he wants a bit more job security. With the wing class being weak this summer, maybe his price goes a little higher if a few teams want him

Joakim Noah

Age – 34

Center

Unrestricted Free Agent

2018/19 season – seven points, five rebounds and two assists

Joakim Noah is an intriguing entry on the list of Free Agents this summer. After securing a buyout from a nightmare situation in New York, he reappeared the Memphis Grizzlies. He seemed re-energized on a Grizzlies team that made multiple trades throughout his tenure. They were an average +5.7 points better per game in the 42 games he was on the floor. He finished at the rim at a career high of 62%, while throwing down 42 dunks as well. His foul drawing and rebounding were also close to career highs, showing the effort he was putting in on a tanking team.

While it may be a different story on a winning team, Noah is a former defensive player of the year who has strong playoff experience. If his injury and drug issues are behind him, he could be a good addition to a rebuilding or playoff team. Noah will have earned over 140 million when his stretched deal with the Knicks concludes. This will probably mean he would be happy to be on a roster at the veteran minimum.