Can the Warriors second unit be better than last season? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — The Warriors officially added a new member to their bench on Monday, a day before leaving for a two-game trip to Japan. In fact, the newest member is one who played seven previous seasons over two stints with the Warriors and helped them win four NBA championships.
Andre Iguodala put pen to paper on Monday for his 19th and final season in the NBA. His mentorship was lauded, but he wasn’t done providing Steve Kerr with his game on the court. There is no fixed number of games Iguodala will play or an exact limit of minutes. Getting back on the Peloton has helped the 38-year-old realize he’s not as out of shape as he previously thought.
He also wanted to thank Rick Celebrini, director of sports medicine and performance for the Warriors. If Celebrini hadn’t mapped out the best way to use Iguodala at this point in his career, the former Finals MVP likely would have hung up his sneakers for good.
When used as the Warriors ultimate weapon off the bench, Iguodala’s combination of playing and being an extra pseudo-coach will be immeasurable at times. It goes beyond the box score. Whether he’s playing with them, watching them or guiding them, Iguodala is extremely high in the second unit of the Warriors’ new look.
Perhaps even more so than the group that played a major role in Golden State bringing the title to The Bay last season.
“We have the luxury of how some of the young players are playing, we had some really good signings in the offseason with Donte [DiVincenzo]with Ja Mychal [Green]”, Iguodala said Monday at the Chase Center. “Moses [Moody] looks really good. Of course, we have high expectations for [Jonathan] Kuminga.
“We have a very good depth where we don’t have to put too much pressure on Steph [Curry]Clay [Thompson], [Andrew] Wiggins and everything will be fine. Looks like our second unit is a bit stronger.
“It’s not a knock on what we had. But before games last year, we had to say, ‘Okay, we need Steph to be Superman today. I think we don’t have to rely on that so much. He will always be him, but I think it will be an added luxury for us. “
This begs the question, is his head coach okay?
“We’ll see,” Kerr said. “I thought last year’s second unit was pretty special. [Otto Porter Jr.] and [Gary Payton II] had good seasons. [Nemanja Bjelica] does great things for us. It’s definitely a different look, but I like the level of talent.
“Between Moses, JK, [James Wiseman], [Jordan Poole], we have a lot of guys with a lot of ability. But ability has to go hand in hand with knowledge and understanding of the game. That’s the real challenge for all these youngsters.”
The challenge for Kerr and the rest of his coaching staff is figuring out what the best combinations are and who will play best together. The second unit does not only consist of bench players. It will also include beginners and very big names.
Porter and Payton were able to fit in with multiple warriors and with different skill sets. One is a 6-foot-8 forward who can stretch the floor, shoot it from 3-point range, add rebounds and still keep the Warriors flowing as the ultimate plus-minus king. The other is a 6-foot-3 guard who was a game-changer on defense and played the Warriors’ dunker with his unique game.
Poole will score the bulk of the Warriors’ points off the bench as the sixth man. He’ll start anyway when Curry and Thompson need a break, and could even become the Warriors’ second leading scorer. It’s not a stretch to be expected by any means. Wiseman, Kuminga and Moody all bring youth, athleticism and top talent – sprinkled with the almighty question marks of inexperience.
These inexperience questions are there for a reason. However, Kuminga and Moody both made the playoffs at 19 for a championship team. Wiseman is the oldest by three at 21, and now that he’s healthy and going through his first training camp, the reviews have been even better than the Warriors could have hoped for.
Green was brought in to be a necessary veteran presence for such a young group, and to bring his style and attitude. He will do it with pleasure. One player who stood out in Iguodala’s early days is free agent Bob Myers’ other general manager and the rest of the front office has focused on.
In the first four years of his career, DiVincenzo was a bench player, starter, champion, injured and traded. He appears to be the next in a long line of players who have recovered with the Warriors, and Iguodala can see why that can easily be the case.
“He’s a guy that I have naturally – I’m going to nurture him on purpose,” Iguodala said. “He can do a lot for us, and as many opportunities as I can give him, I am. It will help other guys see what he can do too.”
Kerr totally agrees.
“Yes, Donte fits perfectly with our team in the way we play,” Kerr said. “He has a very good feel. He’s a great shooter, very good ball handler, passer and playmaker. Nice to have Donte.
“He can have a big impact on our team this year.”
RELATED: Why Klay’s Healthy Offseason Matters to Him, Warriors
The Warriors’ new second unit is younger, more explosive, full of top-notch talent and brings an added element to a team that will soon be celebrating with more sparkling bling on opening night. Will it be better than a season ago? Iguodala sees the potential for this to ring true.
In the eyes of a coach, we will have to wait and see.
Download and follow the Dubs Talk podcast
#Warriors #unit #championship #team