Warriors

Don't sleep on these three Warriors holdovers' impact in '21-22

Warriors

So much of the attention this offseason for the Warriors, and rightfully so, has been focused on the return of Klay Thompson, the additions of Andre Iguodala, Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bjelica, as well as new lottery picks Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody. 

And yet, the Warriors' upcoming 2021-22 season could be heavily impacted by three holdovers from prior seasons: Jordan Poole, Damion Lee, and Juan Toscano-Anderson.

Toscano-Anderson's story is one that needs to be highlighted whenever possible. The journey he took to reach the NBA is a fantastic example of strong will and determination. But simply reaching the NBA is not the end of the story for JTA, as his production on the court last season proved to be a major influence on the success of the Warriors.

For example, in his last 18 games played in the 2020-21 season, Toscano-Anderson put up an even or positive plus/minus when he was on the court in 16 of those contests. The Warriors also happened to go 14-4 during that stretch. His well-rounded skill set reminded some of Iguodala, in that he makes an impact in every facet of the game. 

Playing time will not be simply handed to JTA this season, however. While Eric Paschall is no longer in Golden State after being traded to the Utah Jazz, the new free-agent additions, and even Kuminga, all present competition for minutes on the court. But Toscano-Anderson proved that he provides a spark, toughness and a positive impact for the Warriors, and if he continues to improve his 3-point shooting, it will be hard to take him off the court.

 

With Thompson's return from his Achilles injury possibly pushed back into the middle of the upcoming season, the Warriors have a need for a floor-spacing guard/wing who can play in the flow of their system without demanding the ball. That exact player already is on the roster in Damion Lee. 

His overall numbers were quite solid last season, shooting about 40 percent from deep while providing much-needed energy off the bench. How his production impacts the Warriors' record can be easily seen too. In Warriors wins, Lee averaged 7.5 points, while shooting 51 percent from the field and a lethal 46 percent from deep.

Meanwhile, during losses, Lee's numbers fell to 5.6 points per contest, on 42 percent from the field and 32 percent from deep. Before a breakthrough COVID-19 case wrecked the last few weeks of the season, Lee shot 55 percent from the field and 46 percent from distance over an eight-game stretch in which the Warriors won six of them.

Lee plays his best when surrounded by teammates who share the ball and know how to move and play within Steve Kerr's free-flowing system. Because of this, it would not be a shock if Lee were to start in Thompson's spot in the Splash Brother's absence. Comfortability playing next to Steph Curry, as well as spacing the floor for Draymond Green, are must-have qualities for any Thompson replacement, and Lee is an apt candidate. 

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But if the Warriors want to put another pure scorer next to Curry, then perhaps Jordan Poole is the right guy for the starting job.

Poole burst on the scene last season after spending some time in the G League Bubble and wowed the Warriors brass with his exceptional shot-making and improved ability to avoid making costly mistakes. He is immensely talented with a highly regarded work ethic, so expecting even more improvement from him this season should not be a surprise.

Also, much like Lee, the statistics for Poole show that his production correlates to Warriors wins and losses. In wins, Poole scored nearly 13 points per game on 48 percent shooting from the field and 38 percent from long-range. While in losses, Poole's numbers fell to 11 points per game on 38 percent overall shooting and 31 percent from deep. 

Poole is also the Warriors' only other "point guard" on the full-time roster, so should Curry miss any time or perhaps take a night off, then he will surely start in Curry's place. But Poole's expected role this season will be that of a flame-thrower scorer and playmaker off the bench, and the Warriors have very high hopes that Poole is just scratching the surface of his sky-high potential. 

 

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