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.
Jonas Jerebko has been a valuable weapon off the Warriors’ bench this season -- and more than you probably realize.
The team greatly benefits from the 6-foot-10 forward’s ability to stretch the floor, his vastly underrated tenacity when rebounding, his desire to make the right, efficient pass, and his overall energy and toughness on the court. But to simplify Jerebko's contribution is to examine how the Warriors fare in relation to his scoring totals.
When Jerebko scores 10-plus points in a game, the Warriors are 9-1. The one loss they endured came in the Nov. 29 game in Toronto, when Jerebko helped Kevin Durant lead a valiant comeback that eventually ended in an overtime defeat. When Jerebko scores five points or fewer in a game, the Warriors are 5-7.
It has been well-chronicled that the Warriors’ bench lacks a clear scoring role player, so it helps when Jerebko steps up and hits shots.
Having Jerebko open lanes for the Warriors' stars also is crucial to the team's success. The Warriors are 10-1 when Jerebko makes two or more 3-pointers in a game, and Jerebko is +116 in point differential when on the court in those games.
Last season, the Warriors were desperate for shooting from deep off their bench, turning to the likes of Nick Young and Omri Casspi, but the duo never found consistency, and the team suffered from a lack of spacing in the second unit. Jerebko has shored up those issues so far this season, and the Warriors' record reflects it.
'Zo cleaning the glass
Alfonzo McKinnie also is making his presence felt, especially on the glass. When McKinnie pulls down two or more offensive rebounds in a game, the Warriors are 7-1.
Kevon Looney is the Warriors’ best offensive rebounder, but McKinnie also has proven to be valuable contributor in that category. He has a nose for the ball, and doesn’t let a play die once a shot goes up.
McKinnie plays like a guy who’s fighting for playing time every time he steps on the court, and that has helped him become a key member of the bench.
Klay’s 3-point success tied to team success
Many times, it feels like the Warriors really hit their stride when Klay Thompson is firing and hitting from deep, and the numbers support that. When Klay shoots 40 percent or better in a game, the Warriors are 11-1.
That’s no coincidence.
Klay has been uncharacteristically inconsistent from long range this season, leading him to take more contested mid-range shots. When Steph Curry is out, opponents focus on limiting Klay from shooting 3-pointers. But when Curry is playing, of course, the defense shifts the focus to stopping him, leaving Klay with the ability to sink daggers from deep.
If he makes them, the Warriors usually win. Simple as that.
Follow Grant on Twitter @GrantLiffmann for his observations throughout the Warriors’ season