After trading away nearly half of their roster, the Golden State Warriors spent Friday filling it back in. There are some new faces, but plenty of familiar ones too, so let’s take a look at what the Warriors have done to fill the gaps while getting know the team that will finish out the season.
To start, I made a little chart to show which players got sent out prior to the trade deadline, and what the Warriors got back in return.
The trades were mostly about removing players (and their salaries). Using the moves below, Golden State escaped the dreaded repeater tax, removing an extremely punitive tax that could have hampered the Warriors pursuit of talent next season as they reload for another shot at a championship.
If you’ll notice, that is a grand total of six players sent out, and just one returning. Already carrying two injured stars on the roster, this put tremendous pressure on Golden State to fill out the rest of the lineup with cheap contracts.
They’ve done so with a combination of pulling up players on two-way deals (Ky Bowman and Marquese Chriss), recalling players from the G League (Alen Smailagić), and handing out a 10-day contract (Janero Pargo).
February 7th 2020
Bowman will be familiar to anyone who spent time watching Golden State earlier in the season. After the injury to Steph Curry, and then some minor dings for D’Angelo Russell, Bowman spent a short stint as the Warriors primary ball handler.
In about 22 minutes per game over the course of 37 games this season, Bowman averaged 7.3 points, 2.8 assists, 2.5 rebounds, and 1 steal per game. Though not an especially efficient scorer (his .490 TS% lands between Draymond Green and Jacob Evans), he is shooting 34.4% from behind the arc - where he takes approximately one-quarter of his shot attempts.
A versatile, energetic guard with a defensive focus, Bowman will likely slot back into the starting lineup until Curry returns.
Chriss took a rather unique path to making the team. Added during training camp, when the team cut exciting but unpredictable wing player Alfonzo McKinnie, Chriss played well but was stuck behind presumed starter Wiley Cauley-Stein and the various attempts at playing with a small ball center like Kevon Looney, Draymond Green, or even Omari Spellman and Eric Paschall.
He was cut by the team back in January as a cost reduction measure, but soon brought back on a two-way deal. This recent move was required for the center position (after sending out Cauley-Stein and Spellman there’s a need for a minutes-eater down low), but also a vote of confidence for Chriss.
In nine starts over the course of 47 games this season, he’s averaging 7.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 18.6 minutes per game.But more important than his offensive output is the fact that he’s one of the three players that has had a positive impact defensively for the Warriors this year.
With the move away from D’Angelo Russell, the Warriors are likely going to shift their priorities to defense for the rest of this season. One of the few players under contract for more than one year, Chriss is playing to work himself into the Warriors rotation beyond just this one season.
We are reporting on this as it unfolds, but I suspect the second season on Chriss’ deal may be either fully or partially non-guaranteed as the Warriors are clearly chasing financial flexibility for roster improvements next year.
January 31st 2020
Alen Smailagić has been one of the more intriguing players drafted by the Warriors in recent memory. Stashed in the G League, the Warriors were so eager to acquire him in the draft that they sent two 2nd-round picks and a million dollars in cash to the New Orleans Pelicans for his draft rights.
A tall rangy player, Smailagić has an aggressive offensive game that could integrate well with the Warriors system while filling a need for a scoring big man. In less than a 100 minutes with the team, his numbers are impressive when viewed as a rate. Per 36 minutes he’s averaged 16.4 points (on a team-leading TS% of 0.629), 8.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.2 blocks.
While we advise caution reading into small sample size data, the limited look we’ve gotten at this kid looks extremely positive. Relegated to the G League as the Warriors prefer a slow development curve rather than tossing him to the wolves of the NBA (see what I did there? Because of the big trade?). But now that the Warriors are in a bit of a roster pinch, they’ve had their hand forced and will hopefully offer us more glimpses of this promising young player.
Juan Toscano-Anderson, an Oakland native, may surprise people here. Though he ended up not quite making the cut coming out of training camp this fall, he stood out with his perimeter defense and all-around game. Remember that the Warriors are missing those wing players like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston; though Toscano-Anderson doesn’t compare to those two his flexibility on the wing will come in handy for a team that has plenty of holes to fill.
As per Warriors PR on Twitter, in 31 games (12 starts) with the Santa Cruz Warriors this season, he averaged 12.5 points, 9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.4 steals in 29 minutes per game. Again, a little bit of every thing - all of which the Warriors will need.
One of the quirks of the Warriors salary and roster maneuverings is that they’ve got to fiddle with some 10-day contracts in order to fill out their roster while staying under the threshold. I’m not familiar with his game, but if the YouTube highlight reel is any indication, he should be a fun addition to the Warriors.
Finally we have Zach Norvell, a scoring guard that is shooting 40% from deep in the G League.
Norvell was undrafted before coming to the Warriors summer league team (see below) and was eventually signed by the Los Angeles Lakers. He couldn’t quite crack the NBA rotation for them - playing just five minutes before getting waived by them earlier this year.
He has stuck in the G League, and as Anthony Slater shows us below, there have been some flashes of promising play. With Golden State jettisoning so much of their rotation, players like Norvell will likely get one of their best chances to make an impression in the NBA. Whether or not he sticks with the Warriors, a few big moments in the brighter spotlight of the NBA could open doors for him.
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