Steve Kerr will have to strategize when creating new Warriors lineups


Steve Kerr will have to strategize when creating new Warriors lineups

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.

With the preseason set to begin Saturday, Steve Kerr will start tinkering with restructured lineups to fit a new roster. Unlike the past few seasons, Kerr will construct offensive strategies that might involve more pick-and-roll and more isolation. But in order to develop the right strategy, Kerr will have to find the right personnel combinations on the floor.

On a few occasions this offseason, including at Warriors Media Day, Kerr stressed that it is important to keep one of Steph Curry or D'Angelo Russell on the court at all times. By staggering their minutes, there will always be a primary play maker and scorer on the floor. The probable playing time strategy that the Warriors will employ will be Curry playing all of the first quarter, like he normally does, and Russell checking out with approximately five minutes or so left to get some rest.

Russell likely will start the second quarter with Curry on the bench. Russell will run the show until Curry checks back in sometime around the six or seven-minute mark. This pattern would then repeat in the second half.

The exact times that Curry and Russell check-in and out of each quarter will completely depend on the score, flow of the game, foul trouble etc. The primary question then becomes which players will share the court with Curry or Russell.

To start the game, the most likely lineup (as of now) will be Curry, Russell, Alfonzo McKinnie, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney, with McKinnie and the wing position being the spot in question. Glenn Robinson III has the strongest shot to supplant McKinnie in the starting lineup, primarily for his solid defense and ability to hit a spot-up 3-pointer. McKinnie is an exceptional offensive rebounder and slasher that plays with a high motor, something that could be beneficial for a second unit as well.

Assuming that Green remains with Curry for the entire first quarter, then mixing and matching pieces around them for when Russell and Looney check out will be one of the Kerr's challenges. Willie Cauley-Stein's injury has thrown a wrench into the initial rotation plans. The Warriors are hoping he will not miss much time, but Cauley-Stein's absence leaves a massive vacancy in the center spot where he was expected to play major minutes, especially with Russell and the second unit and perhaps even in the starting lineup. Omari Spellman possibly could step in and fill the void to end the first quarter. Pairing Spellman with Green's leadership could help the young big man stay focused and effective, especially on the defensive end.

One of the key decisions that Kerr will have to make revolves around Alec Burks. Out of all the bench pieces, Burks has the best chance to be a scoring option. But pairing him with Curry or Russell will take some feeling out early in the season. Burks is most effective when the ball is in his hands, allowing him to break down his defender and attack the hoop, or create for others.

Burks, however, is much more effective shooting from deep when he becomes a spot-up shooter rather than pulling up off the dribble. So in order to find out how to best utilize Burks, it would be fair to assume that Kerr will tinker with lineups that includes Burks, Curry and Russell together.

With Cauley-Stein out, Kerr will have to get creative finding the right pick-and-roll partner with Russell. One scenario could be that Looney starts the second quarter to be that man. Looney is not your prototypical pick-and-roll partner, but developing chemistry with Russell could be a real benefit to the team. If Russell is to run pick-and-rolls like he is comfortable doing, then it is imperative that the coaching staff puts shooters around him.

This is where Jordan Poole and Damion Lee could be factors. While Lee is more proven, both will need to be excellent spot-up shooters if they want to see playing time.

[RELATED: Warriors' Lee sick of Curry family questions, wants respect]

You can expect rookie Eric Paschall to carve out some time in a do-it-all role.

Playing Jacob Evans III with Russell could help on the defensive end, but it is not the most seamless match offensively. Due to his inconsistent outside shooting, Evans might clog the lane for Russell (or even Curry). More likely than not, Evans III will begin the season as a much needed back up plan if Curry and Russell are not on the floor, or if the Warriors are in need of defense. This will help Evans III take his time transitioning into his new role as a point guard, and prepare him for when his duties will be needed greatly over the long road of an NBA season.

NBA Draft 2020: Deni Avdija celebrated Warriors' 2015 title in old photo

NBA Draft 2020: Deni Avdija celebrated Warriors' 2015 title in old photo

If the Warriors select 19-year-old Deni Avdija in the early stages of the 2020 NBA Draft, they'll be picking a player who appears to have been a fan of the franchise for at least a quarter of his life.

The Israeli-Serbian forward has been lighting up the Israeli Basketball Premier League for Maccabi Tel Aviv, averaging 18.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. ESPN's NBA draft guru Mike Schmitz describes Avdija as an "aggressive offensive player who is in attack mode every time he steps onto the floor," who, "loves shooting pull-up 3-pointers in transition."

Hmmm. Sound familiar?

That would seem to mirror the way the Warriors played throughout their (still ongoing?) dynastic run. Given a photo posted to Avdija's Instagram in September of 2016, it would appear he has been a fan of Golden State for some time.

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מה זה בית ספר #🇪🇸

A post shared by Deni Avdija (@deniavdia8) on

That's the Warriors 2015 NBA Champions hat that Avdija is wearing while apparently sailing off the coast of Spain. A good-looking hat for an even better view.

[RELATED: Watch potential Dubs draft target Avdija dominate in Israel]

Just throwing this out there, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess he's a pretty big fan of Steph Curry, too.

Maybe, just maybe, they'll be teammates within a few months, and Avdija will have more Warriors apparel than he'll know what to do with.

Shaq gives outrageous breakdown of potential Lakers-Warriors matchup

Shaq gives outrageous breakdown of potential Lakers-Warriors matchup

Shaquille O'Neal won't back down from this debate.

The Hall of Fame center is 100 percent convinced his three-peat Los Angeles Lakers were better than the Steph Curry and Kevin Durant-led Warriors.

Shaq has made it clear over the last two years that he believes the 1999 through 2002 championship Lakers would have easily beaten the 2016 through 2019 Warriors in a hypothetical matchup.

The Diesel even claimed that the Warriors wouldn't have been a contender during the Lakers' dominant run.

But in an interview with Maxim Magazine published Tuesday, Shaq said the Lakers starters would have won every 1-on-1 matchup with the Warriors.

Brace yourselves, Warriors fans.

"I have a hard time believing that the greatest coach of all time (Phil Jackson), plus me and Kobe [Bryant], wouldn’t match up quite nicely against Steve Kerr and his gang," Shaq said. "Kobe takes Steph and dominates him. [Derek] Fisher takes Klay and manhandles him. [Rick] Fox takes Draymond and makes him foul out in the first half. Horace [Grant] would do his thing with K.D. But let’s be real, K.D., is a beast, and you can only do so much with him. And then I’d remind [Zaza] Pachulia why I am in the Hall of Fame and he is not."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Where do we even begin?

Yes, Kobe was an elite defender, but Curry is a generational talent. He would not have been dominated by Bryant. Steph against a prime Kobe would have been must-see TV, but it wouldn't have been as one-sided as Shaq believes.

If Shaq thinks Klay would be manhandled by anyone, let alone Fisher, he hasn't watched the Warriors shooting guard enough. Thompson has five inches on Fisher and would just shoot right over him.

If Fox tried to bully Draymond, the Warriors forward would pull a Doug Christie and sock him in the jaw. Draymond's motor would give him the edge in that matchup.

Durant would get his against Grant or any other defender the Lakers threw at him. You know who he is. He's Kevin Durant.

The only matchup the Lakers win hands down is Shaq vs. Zaza. Sorry, Zaza.

Shaq's Lakers were able to do something the Warriors weren't able to do: Three-peat. But Golden State very likely would have accomplished the feat if Durant and Thompson had been healthy for the entirety of the 2019 NBA Finals.

[RELATED: Why Curry, Dubs would dominate Lakers]

Yes, Shaq has every right to defend his Lakers teams, but to say they would completely dominate those Warriors teams is a bit far-fetched. Before Durant arrived, the Warriors won 73 games. After he signed, they steamrolled the league on their way to back-to-back NBA titles, and could have three-peated.

This debate will never be settled, but one thing is for sure. Shaq won't let it go.