Warriors

Warriors Under Review: DeMarcus Cousins plays best game of season

Warriors Under Review: DeMarcus Cousins plays best game of season

HOUSTON - The Warriors got an important win Wednesday evening, beating the Rockets 106-104 to both keep their spot atop the Western Conference and avoid a season sweep. 

In a matchup between two high-powered offenses, it was the Warriors' defense throughout the night that kept the Rockets at bay. 

For a team in search of a consistent effort, the win helped the Dubs towards that goal as they trudge through a grueling four-game trip. 

Here are some of the positives and negatives from the game:

Positive

Boogie on down

DeMarcus Cousins was dominant, finishing with 27 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. 

Throughout the night, Boogie showed flashes of his pre-injury days, routinely taking advantage of Houston's switch-heavy defense, punishing undersized defenders in the post. 

More impressively, Cousins played well defensively, even drawing a first-quarter charge on James Harden and earned minutes down the stretch from Steve Kerr. 

In a game the Warriors needed his production, especially with Kevin Durant out with an ankle injury, Cousins delivered. 

Positive 

Klay Day (And Everybody's Celebratin') 

With all the talk of Cousins' breakout game, Klay Thompson had a achieved a milestone of his own, making his 200th 3-pointer of the season, joining his teammate Stephen Curry as the only other player to reach 200 or more 3-pointers in seven consecutive seasons. 

When asked if Curry and Thompson were the top two shooters in NBA history, Draymond Green had a frank answer: "100 percent." 

No arguments here.

Negative

Chef still isn't cooking from beyond the arc

While his Splash Brother continues to shoot the ball at a historic level, Stephen Curry is struggling to find a rhythm from 3-point range. Following 3-of-9 performance Wednesday night, Curry is now shooting just 31 percent from 3-point range over his last eight games. 

[RELATED: Steph reveals 'why I try to protect my joy' on his 31st birthday]

Positive

Warriors avoid the season sweep against Houston

While the Rockets won the season series for the second straight season, they did not run the table. Golden State's win also starts the four-game trip off on a good note. But, win or not, Green wasn't worried too much about the season series following the game. 

"We don't need to be juiced up from them," Green said. "We beat them. So we don't need to be juiced up for them to get on their level. That's dumb. That doesn't make sense."

Why Warriors drafting LaMelo Ball could be beneficial to both parties

lamelowarriorsap.jpg
AP

Why Warriors drafting LaMelo Ball could be beneficial to both parties

The Warriors are going to have a very high lottery pick. This much is certain.

While there is no overwhelming consensus as to which prospect should be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, there is a handful of players believed to be in contention for that selection. Depending on the position and type of player a specific team is looking for, that could ultimately determine who goes first overall.

One of the prospects believed to be near the top of most teams draft boards is 18-year-old guard LaMelo Ball, the youngest brother of New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball. The younger Ball just returned to the United States after averaging 17.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.8 assists over 12 games with the Illawarra Hawks in Australia's NBL. He is a somewhat controversial prospect, and not every team will be the right fit for him. 

Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman recently assessed how Ball would fit with the teams likely to be picking near the top of the lottery, and he believes Ball ending up in Golden State would be beneficial to both parties.

"Ball's potential fit in Golden State became easier to envision after the Warriors swapped D'Angelo Russell for a non-playmaking wing in Andrew Wiggins at the Feb. 6 trade deadline," Wasserman wrote. "And with Stephen Curry turning 32 in March, the team (and Curry) may benefit from an additional ball-handler."

"Arguably the most important benefit for the 18-year-old," Wasserman added, "who's been in the spotlight since early high school and has five-plus million Instagram followers, would be the franchise's professionalism and winning culture."

Ball's maturity has often been questioned -- although that's probably more his father's fault than his own -- but Wasserman believes the Warriors have the right leadership in place in Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and coach Steve Kerr to help ease his transition into the NBA. Additionally, he views the worst aspect of Ball's fit in Golden State as potentially being a positive.

"The only negative of his landing in Golden State would be the lack of early shots and touches," Wasserman summarized. "He wouldn't have a path toward dominating the rock and putting up All-Star numbers. But that may also be for the better."

[RELATED: Warriors linked to these two prospects in latest mock drafts]

With what are expected to be high lottery picks in each of the next two drafts, a massive trade exception and a reloaded cupboard of assets, the Warriors are poised to quickly turn things around and get right back into championship contention. It remains to be seen if Ball will have a part in that.

Why Draymond Green believes Andrew Wiggins can be All-Defensive player

Why Draymond Green believes Andrew Wiggins can be All-Defensive player

SAN FRANCISCO – When Andrew Wiggins came to the Warriors two weeks ago in exchange for D’Angelo Russell, it was as if he arrived with five unwanted tattoos scripted across his 6-foot-8 frame.

Doesn’t play defense.

Doesn’t shoot the 3-ball.

Doesn’t have a passion to be great.

Doesn’t love the game.

Doesn’t, repeating for emphasis, play defense.

Draymond Green, one of Wiggins’ new teammates, is on a quest to remove those invisible tats. Green fully believes they can fade into history, thereby reshaping the reputation attached to Wiggins over five-plus seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“I think he can be an All-Defensive (team) player,” Green said after practice Wednesday. “That’s one of my goals for him, as the leader of this team, one of my things that I really want to push him on. He has all the tools. He has the athleticism. He reminds me a lot of Kevin (Durant), where they’re both long and lanky, but agile and can move. Very skinny guys, but not weak. From that aspect, it reminds me a lot of Kevin.

“Kevin’s a great defender. If (Wiggins) can continue to build on that, which I think he can ... on the defensive end, he can be really, really good.”

Wiggins’ defensive stats generally rate at the bottom levels, but there is reason to believe in appreciable improvement. His 2016-17 defensive rating of 107.9 was identical to that of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who entered the league one year earlier. Wiggins has twice over the past four seasons posted better individual defensive ratings than Trevor Ariza, who still maintains a reputation as a solid, if declining, defender.

Those numbers don’t vary much from those Wiggins posts in defensive win shares and defensive box plus/minus.

Such statistics, however, only hint at a player’s impact, rarely capturing the complete tale. There is plenty of video exposing Wiggins’ defensive ineffectiveness, and every one of them is with him as a part of a Timberwolves defense that annually ranked among the NBA’s worst.

Minnesota ranked no higher than 24th in defensive rating in any of the five full seasons with Wiggins on the roster. Only once over that span did the Timberwolves reach the playoffs.

“The thought wasn’t that he was a bad defender, anyway,” Green said, pointing out that the Warriors never sought to target him on that end. “He just hasn’t really been in a winning situation. And that’s when the defense gets the notoriety. He hasn’t been in that situation.”

Green also pushed back on the notion that Wiggins is low on desire, in the NBA perhaps for reasons other than love of the game.

“He wants to be great,” Green said. “He’s a guy who has been beat down a lot. Once again, people never talk about the situation guys are in. He wants to be great. He’s not demonstrative. He’s not very talkative. People would never say that or see it.

“But just talking to him, trying to get to know him and watching him work, he wants to be really good. I take that upon myself as a leader of this team, as one of the older guys on this team ... I want to help him do that any way I can.”

Not grasping, or even observing, reasons for the many critiques of Wiggins’ game, Draymond’s assessment is of a 23-year-old still building a career that has been no worse than respectable.

“That guy has averaged 20 points a game (actually 19.7) for three or four years, probably over his career,” Green said. “It’s not a f---ing bum we’re talking about. So, I’m not going to sit here and act like we found some diamond-in-the-rough that no one (knew about). He was the No. 1 pick. He’s averaged 20. He’s a player.”

[RELATED: Draymond jokes about wanting buyout from Warriors]

Green has spent the past few seasons providing guidance, offering constructive criticism while also giving his share of pep talks. Those things didn’t seem to move D’Angelo Russell, a tremendous scorer who plays to a beat only he can hear.

Wiggins is more malleable. And listening closely to Draymond’s vociferous defense of his new teammate, while also vowing full support, it’s clear that his new project is one in which he believes.