28127458_web1_220210-SFE-WARRIORS-PHOTO_1

By John Krolik

Special to The Examiner

The Warriors’ have been hot lately, putting together a nine-game winning streak that showcased some of the basketball we’ve seen all season. What did we learn? Plenty.

First of all, Steph Curry’s shot is back. After going a combined 3-23 from beyond the arc in consecutive games against Dallas and Utah, Curry has gone 27-59 (45.8%) from deep. We knew the best shooter of all time would find his stroke again, but it’s nice that it happened sooner rather than later.

Curry also stepped up his playmaking in the absence of Draymond Green. Over the eight games Curry played in the win streak, he averaged 8.4 assists per game, a significant uptick over his season average of 6.3. The Warriors are still at their best with Draymond playing point forward and Steph free to fly around without the ball hunting for a spot of free real estate from beyond the arc, but this winning streak showed the Warriors can still be deadly when their main scoring option is also their best playmaker.

Klay Thompson is back, and he doesn’t look like a player who missed over 900 days. Thompson played six games during the winning streak, and has steadily looked more and more like the All-Star player he was before he suffered his injuries. He shot 44.7% from beyond the arc during the streak, which is even better than his career average of 41.8%. His performance against the Kings on Feb. 3, when he scored 23 points on 8-11 shooting and 7-9 shooting from deep, with a season-high seven assists mixed in, was an absolute statement game. He followed that up with some clutch late-game shots to close out the Oklahoma City Thunder, showing he’s ready to be a part of Steve Kerr’s closing lineup again.

It’s fantastic the Warriors have been able to put together a winning streak like this without the services of Green. However, with only 27 games remaining in the regular season, and Green’s injury timetable still unclear, it is a bit concerning that he’s yet to play a game with Steph and Klay. Klay and Draymond have enough history together that they should find their old rhythm before too long. Still, both of them have extremely distinct playing styles, and the Warriors will be at a disadvantage if they have to start what will be a very tough journey through the Western Conference Playoffs before the two of them have enough time to get in sync with each other.

Speaking of players the Warriors might not be able to incorporate into their lineup before the playoffs start, James Wiseman still hasn’t touched the floor this season. The young big man has a ton of talent, gives the Warriors size they don’t have anywhere else on the roster and could give them an extra dimension. However, he often looked lost in his rookie season, and he might not have the time to get up to speed and into the rotation before the playoffs start.

Also, size continues to be somewhat of an Achilles’ heel for the Warriors. The Jazz didn’t have Rudy Gobert in the lineup the other night, but the 7-foot Hassan Whiteside (who also sports a 7’ 7” foot wingspan) was able to beat up the Warriors inside in his place. Whiteside finished the game with nine points on 4-5 shooting, 17 rebounds, five offensive rebounds and seven blocks. The Jazz outscored the Warriors by 35 points in the 29 minutes Whiteside was on the floor. If Wiseman can’t prove he’s ready before the playoffs start, the NBA’s true giants could give the Warriors some problems.

Finally, it looks like the Warriors are indeed going to stand pat at the trade deadline. That means Jonathan Kuminga will be around for the foreseeable future. With Green out, Kuminga has slowly carved out a solid spot for himself in the rotation, and has found some consistency of late. Through the month of February, Kuminga is averaging 16.3 points per game on 55.6% shooting from the floor. He’s only shooting 23.5% from beyond the arc. He does have room to improve, and likely will for a long time, which is frankly more exciting than anything else. He’s the kind of player that inspires dreams of greatness, and his production has been getting closer and closer to his potential all season long.

The Warriors are still behind the Suns in the standings, and Draymond’s injury status remains an area of concern. Still, as the All-Star break and the playoffs loom closer, the Warriors have to feel good about where they’re at.

John Krolik is a freelance contributor to The Examiner.

Recommended for you