Grant Liffmann

How DeMarcus Cousins in Warriors' lineup will affect Draymond Green's game

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How DeMarcus Cousins in Warriors' lineup will affect Draymond Green's game

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann and Drew Shiller are the co-hosts of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, they will drop their Outsider Observations on the state of the Dubs, and this time, it's Grant's turn.

The time finally has come. DeMarcus Cousins is set to return next week. And it's happening at the perfect moment.

The Warriors could use this injection of mystery and challenge as they enter the dog days of the NBA season. It's clear that the team has started to feel the effects of boredom and apathy, and its play has followed suit. With Boogie joining the lineup, the Warriors not only will feed off the excitement and energy of a new All-Star toy, but they also will experience the hardships and trials of creating a completely new offense (and defense).

Which makes me think it's as if the coaching staff and front office delayed Boogie's return as much as possible in order to break up the season a bit. Hmmmmmm, but I digress.

Cousins will impact all the players on the team, but for now, let's examine how it will affect Draymond Green's game.

The Warriors' coaching staff, as well as Draymond himself, never have been worried about the amount of points he scores. Incredible defense is his most valuable contribution to the team, but let's not forget his playmaking ability on offense, pushing the tempo and spreading the ball to all his teammates. When Boogie returns, Draymond's scoring will be needed even less, making me wonder how many shots per game he actually will attempt.

This season, Draymond is taking his fewest field goal attempts per game (seven) and scoring his fewest points per game (7.3) since his second season in the league, back in 2013-14. When Kevin Durant came on board, Draymond was one of the players who sacrificed the most for accommodating KD's scoring into the mix, and I expect the same to happen again with Cousins' addition.

Instead of shooting, expect Draymond to facilitate even more. Warriors coach Steve Kerr already has said the team will not slow down its pace of play with lumbering Cousins on the floor, and the biggest catalyst of their high pace is Draymond. When he collects a defensive rebound, he's the first to either dribble the ball full-speed up the court or send a rocket outlet pass in order to get the offense in transition and not allow the opponent to set up their defense. This style doesn't necessarily suit Boogie's game, so it'll be up to the big center to try to keep up as much as possible. It sounds like there will be many trailing 3-point shots available for Boogie when he finally does.

But what about Draymond's 3-pointers? Warriors coaches are finding creative ways to help the team's half-court sets run smoothly when Draymond is struggling with his shot, allowing a defender to completely sag off him and clog the paint, but the team could greatly benefit from simply mediocre long-range shooting. Over the last nine games, Draymond is 8 for 25 from deep, for 32 percent. By no means is that figure exciting, but it's definitely acceptable for a high-octane offense that doesn't rely on it.

[RELATED: Warriors' second quarter report card]

The point is keeping a defense honest, and to me, that percentage is the minimum to do so. With Cousins on the court, the Warriors finally will have their first true post scorer in the Kerr era, so the team would love to have the paint as open as possible. If Draymond can shoot like he is right now, or better, that will help considerably.

On defense, Draymond finally can go back to more of his normal and natural position. The Warriors' lack of big man depth has been well chronicled. Sure, Kevon Looney has stepped up and performed well after Damian Jones's season-ending injury, but I'd contend that Draymond has been the one to feel the effects the most. He's had to play a lot more minutes at center than Kerr wants, forcing him to match up with opposing bruisers and taking him away from what he does best: playing free safety. When Draymond doesn't have to be the sole defender down low, he's given the freedom to roam, spy, jump passing lanes, break up plays before they happen, bring double teams and provide phenomenal help-side defense.

So, expect to see more of that Draymond with Cousins on the floor. Also expect to see a much improved Warriors defense in the process.

How Stephen Curry having ball in his hands more could help Warriors

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How Stephen Curry having ball in his hands more could help Warriors

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann and Drew Shiller are the co-hosts of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, they will drop their Outside Observations on the state of the Dubs, and this time, it's Grant's turn.

I've heard what the fans are begging for: MORE STEPH CURRY! Many just want to see Steph get more shots, and others simply would like the ball in his hands more.

Let's first start with his shots, though, because you might be surprised how much Steph actually has been shooting this season.

Curry has been shooting 19.8 field-goal attempts per game this season, his second-most attempts in his career, just trailing his unanimous NBA MVP season, when he launched 20.2 per game (but didn't have to worry about making sure Kevin Durant was well fed with attempts). His 3-point attempts per game tell a similar story, as Curry is averaging 11 shots from deep, the second-highest total of his career and also trailing the 2015-16 campaign when he launched 11.2 per game.

When compared to last season, Curry is taking about three more field-goal attempts per game this season, including over one more shot from deep. Last season, Steph attempted 14 or more 3-point attempts in a game in three of 51 games played. This season, he has done that in 10 of 28 games played.

The truth is, Curry has been shooting plenty this season. Personally, I believe he should continue shooting around the exact amount he is now. BUT it would be nice to see the ball in his hands more.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr recently addressed questions regarding this subject, and answered that since the team is staggering Steph and KD, the unit Curry plays with to start the second and fourth quarters includes ball handlers such as Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston. As Kerr said: "Steph is perfectly comfortable playing off the ball. Shaun can post up. I like the look of it."

Curry is highly skilled at moving without the ball, tricking defenders and running circles around those who aren't prepared to fight through multiple screens. He is shooting his best percentage from deep off catch-and-shoot attempts, making 46.4 percent. So the numbers don't lie when Kerr says Steph is perfectly comfortable playing off the ball.

And Kerr is right in that Livingston and others play best with the ball in their hands more. But so does Steph as a "playmaker," and he is one of the best players in the world.

[RELATED: What went right, what went wrong in Warriors' OT loss to Rockets]

When Curry plays with the ball in his hands, he starts dancing on defenders and can force opponents to send double teams, which automatically leads to better shots for his teammates. He is tied for his career low with 5.3 assists per game, which is no coincidence, considering you cannot feed your teammates when you do not have the ball. I'm not saying Curry should have the ball every single play, but perhaps more of a balance could keep defenses a little more honest and let the Warriors exploit the second units of opposing teams by unleashing Steph on them.

Keep in mind, all the current strategy as it is constructed will be turned upside down with DeMarcus Cousins' return. Kerr most likely will not stagger Durant and Curry as much anymore, letting Cousins, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green man the second unit. This would allow Cousins to get ample shot attempts since he will not be featured as frequently playing alongside the two MVPs to start the game.

So, perhaps these discussions are a moot point as of now, and we should just wait and see how Curry is used once Cousins comes back. Which probably is the approach the Warriors' coaching staff is subliminally employing as of now. But in the meantime, with every Warriors blown lead or loss, it becomes more apparent that Steph should have the ball just a little more. Even if it is just for entertainment's sake.

Warriors will be fine -- and no, they shouldn't sign Carmelo Anthony

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Warriors will be fine -- and no, they shouldn't sign Carmelo Anthony

On every Warriors Outsiders show, we do a simulcast on Facebook Live. Here are some questions and comments that we didn’t get to address from the last couple shows.

But first, just a quick thought on Klay Thompson.

Over the last couple weeks, Drew Shiller and I have analyzed Klay's uncharacteristic poor shooting (for his standards) from deep. He's missing wide-open 3-pointers at a rate nearly 20 percent worse than last season. His late-game struggles also have hurt the Warriors in a few games in which they needed the dagger shot from him.

But despite all the inconsistency of his shot, Klay actually has excelled in other parts of his game.

[RELATED: Something isn't quite right with Klay right now]

After attempting just 1.3 free throws per game last season, Klay has made an effort to draw fouls to closer rates from past seasons. This season, he's averaging 2.6 free throws per game, and they're coming in bunches. Last season, Klay attempted six or more free throws in just two of 73 games played. This season, on the other hand, he already has accomplished that feat in seven of 32 games played. It's clear he's making a concerted effort to be aggressive and attack the hoop, drawing contact and earning easy points.

Klay also is averaging a career high in steals this season at 1.2 per game. He has stolen the ball two or more times in 10 of the Warriors' 32 games. Last season, Klay had 13 such games out of 73 played.

While Klay's 3-point shot has faltered, his defense has not. That includes attacking the defensive boards. Klay is averaging a career-high 4.3 rebounds per game, way above his previous high of 3.8. He has secured seven or more rebounds in five of 32 games played this season, which ties the amount of games he accomplished that last season in 73 games played.

So, I'd say that Klay's "slump" is ONLY when shooting the 3-ball this season.

Now, to your questions and comments ...

Christopher Greg Permison: "Is the team in good shape ..."

YES. Definitely good shape. I assume you're talking about their overall state, and not their conditioning. Either way, they are.

The team finally is healthy again (sans DeMarcus Cousins), and I wouldn't be surprised if they made a good extended winning streak soon. Games like you witnessed Wednesday night in Utah always are bound to happen, especially when Draymond Green and Klay are struggling with their shot right now. I, as well as most people, expect them to break out of that soon and hit their stride. The effort is there, unlike a few games last season.

Juhara Balasabas: "So sad that the warriors are falling apart"

That couldn't be further from the truth. They are more than fine, and no one is worried on their end. See answer above.

Teresa Tasker: "A lot of basketball left"

Teresa is right. Listen to her. Everyone should check back in when the playoffs start before anyone freaks out over a 21-11 record.

Jennifer Murnin: "Let Carmelo in YO. Cousins might make an appearance in May."

No way, YO (did I use that correctly?) ... Carmelo Anthony is the antithesis of what the Warriors are looking for. He's an isolation player who no longer has the same burst as he did in his younger years, and while he has been a defensive liability his whole career, his defense practically is non-existent by now. Oh, and he isn't known for being the best locker-room guy either.

Boogie should be back in the next couple months unless there is some setback.

Yna Duque: "I miss DWest!"

The Warriors do, too. Not only for his presence in the locker room, but they sure could use his defense and stabilizing force in that second unit. But the Warriors and West made a decision that works best for both of them at the time and into the future, and it's time to move on.

Linda Montecino Chavarria: "Thank you Mr Lacob!! Taking care of our boys!"

Yup, as Drew wrote about Tuesday, Andre Iguodala said on a podcast the other day that the Warriors practically have no budgetary restraints when it comes to making sure their players are taken care of on the road. They stay at the nicest hotels, and are fed the best food throughout their time on the team. Some could say their travel budget is "light years ahead" of every other team ;-)

Watch Warriors Outsiders before and after home game, and after every road game on NBC Sports Bay Area and on Facebook. You also can listen and subscribe to the Warriors Outsiders podcast right here.