The irony in Golden State Warriors start after direct offseason approach

Mary Raleigh
15/10/2023

After moving on from James Wiseman, trading a young Jordan Poole for a 38-year-old Chris Paul, and acquiring veteran free agents Dario Saric and Cory Joseph, the Golden State Warriors’ direction has been evident since the latter end of last season; build around the veteran core and give them the best chance to add another NBA championship.

But after an offseason where the franchise’s two-timeline plan was on the brink of extinction, it all of a sudden has a heartbeat following the Warriors’ opening two preseason games. There’s no surprise youth has been given the opportunity to play significant minutes in two matchups against the Los Angeles Lakers, but the sheer quality of their impression is certainly giving Steve Kerr and the coaching staff something to think about.

While the offseason saw a more win-now approach, the Golden State Warriors youth is now suggesting they should be a part of the plan.

Golden State’s best player across the first two preseason outings? Third-year forward Jonathan Kuminga who, after finding himself out of the playoff rotation last season, has averaged 25 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists on 65.4% shooting and 58.3% from three-point range.

Kuminga’s fellow third-year former lottery pick, Moses Moody, has also shown growth through the opening two matchups. The 21-year-old has appeared more creative off the bounce with some strong moves to the rim, but more importantly appears much more confident in a jumpshot that’s yielded five threes in 10 attempts across the two games.

 

Kuminga and Moody’s opening is a bright start to a leap many thought forthcoming through the offseason. However, after a Summer League where shooting struggles were apparent, the expectations on rookie Brandin Podziemski weren’t quite as high.

The 19th overall pick has been the surprise of the preseason to date, showcasing his versatility as an excellent ball-handler, playmaker and rebounder, along with being a smart defender willing to put his 6’4″ frame on the line.

Podziemski notched his first double-double with 10 points, six rebounds and 10 assists against the Lakers on Friday, with the 20-year-old also finishing a game-high +16 in his 26 minutes. In a game where the Warriors were plagued by 21 turnovers, the fact Podziemski had zero was nothing short of astonishing.

Not to be outdone, Golden State’s comeback effort in the second-half on Friday was capped off by two game-winning plays from Trayce Jackson-Davis. After a quieter performance on debut last Saturday, the 57th overall pick stamped his imprint with a go-ahead putback layup with 32 seconds remaining, before immediately following that with an emphatic rejection on Jalen Hood-Schifino’s layup attempt.

Jackson-Davis had eight points and four rebounds in just over 11 minutes, with the 23-year-old already looking like the strong interior presence that the franchise has wanted behind Kevon Looney.

There’s an irony in the fact the Warriors have largely tried move away from a youthful path, only for a quartet of young players to come and prove significant worth to begin the preseason. While two games is far from guaranteeing anything, it’s been a major positive that could provide a shift in how Golden State is viewed this season.

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