Warriors

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Warriors

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

It is no secret that Warriors have been struggling mightily to start the season, dropping their first two games in embarrassing fashion. The youth movement the team is currently going through will take some time and patience in developing chemistry, both on defense and offense.

With the Warriors in dire need of a jolt of energy and life, the two veteran leaders of the team, Steph Curry and Draymond Green, stepped up and delivered in New Orleans. While they combined to score 42 points in the game, it was their excellence in other statistical categories that made the real difference in the Warriors' 134-123 win.

With Steve Kerr's decision to start the game with a small lineup -- inserting Jordan Poole into the unit and shifting Draymond to the center position -- the first concern that immediately follows is the team's lack of size on the defensive glass. The Warriors were terrible during the preseason in defensive rebounding, which was partially due to missing their two key big men, Kevon Looney and Willie Cauley-Stein. But it also could be attributed to because of their passive approach, which included an inability to box out their opponents.

 

As the starting center and leader of the frontcourt, Green took it upon himself to lead by example, attacking the defensive glass and ultimately collecting 17 rebounds --14 of them on the defensive end. The 17 boards matched Green's highest rebounding total in a regular-season game since January of 2016. 

The Warriors, led by Green, took advantage of a banged-up and undersized Pelicans team and ended up out-rebounding them 61 to 41. Other Warriors that stepped up on the glass included Damion Lee, with a career-high 11 rebounds, Glenn Robinson III with nine boards, Omari Spellman with eight and D'Angelo Russell with seven rebounds from the guard spot. 

Defense and rebounding were expected to be issues for the team coming out of training camp, but the lack of offensive identity surely came as a surprise. Even if there was an expectation that the offense would take time to develop chemistry, there was a belief that the skill on that side of the ball would be enough to scare opponents right out the gate.

[RELATED: Spellman opens up, motivated to prove himself with Warriors]

Unfortunately for the Warriors, over the first two games, that was not the case. So with the team in need of a jumpstart, Curry stepped up to deliver, first and foremost as a distributor. 

The two-time MVP finished the game with 11 assists and only one turnover, after combining for nine assists and 10 turnovers in the first two games. Last season, Curry finished with 10 or more assists in only two regular-season games, so it was clear that Steph made a point of emphasis to create more opportunities for his teammates in New Orleans, as defenses have been honing in on him with double and triple teams.

Draymond also pushed the pace to create shots for the team, finishing with 10 assists on the game after combining for five assists in the first two games.