The Warriors made a clutch decision at this year’s deadline, letting go of young prospects Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks in exchange for the veteran experience of Los Angeles Lakers PG Steve Blake. While he was not the flashiest accessory in the window, Blake is the piece best-suited for the occasion. Blake may not dazzle us with his point production, but even skeptics of the trade have been suitably impressed with not only his level-headed presence, but also with his ability to elevate and even out the talent of his teammates.
Critics of the Warriors have taken frequent aim at Golden State’s inexperienced and sometimes impulsive bench. Moving into the final stretch of the season, the addition of Blake could possibly provide some answers to critical questions aimed at the W’s reserves. Bringing a wealth of resolve and necessary experience, Blake is a true “floor general” PG who can both handle the ball when needed, and score from the outside if provoked. However, arguably the most important supplement Blake brings to the roster is the ability to create new scoring opportunities. Coach Jackson contends that Blake’s experience and intelligence have already been a proven factor,
“He is a veteran who just understands how to play … Options on plays we’ve never seen are now live options…The guys appreciate what he’s doing because he’s unselfish, he’s a competitor, and a he brings a calming effect to the floor.”
The benefits of Blake don’t stop there—when referring to Blake’s versatility in conjunction with the Warriors unique roster, the possibilities for how he can help the team improve are endless. However, the bulk of his impact can be narrowed to a few key factors:
- He can help Stephen Curry stay healthy. In the past, a common pitfall for Golden State has simply been the inability to keep leading scorer Steph Curry healthy for crucial games. With Blake’s strong skill set and acumen for creating scoring opportunities for his teammates, Curry can catch crucial rest minutes to help him stay in prime condition, and keep the scoring divide to a minimum when returning from the bench.
- He doubles as a solid shooting guard. This adds both an outside scoring threat and an offensive compliment to Curry. Unlike former backup Guard Jarrett Jack, who displayed a tendency for rushed decisions and inconsistency–Blake assumes his role with the Warriors boasting a proven track-record of playoff experience, which they hope will help to sharpen their focus during clutch final minutes that have crippled them in the past
- He makes Steph Curry better. What could be better than the Splash Brothers, you ask?–Getting it into their hands more. When Blake and Curry play alongside each other, Blake can assume a “distributor” role to relieve Steph of his ball-handling and play-staging duties. This reassignment can hopefully free Curry and Klay up to do what they do best–make plays off of screens from the outside, and draw the double team to free up and create opportunities for other scorers like David Lee and Andre Igoudala.
- He can fill in down low in the absence of Lee. In the fate of an unanticipated injury, Blake has proven time and again he is versatile enough to create options in almost any position. If forced to stay low and outside, the arc is not a problem–Blake has increased his 3-pt percentage by 40 percent since entering Golden State. Not only can he score outside, he also presents the threat of drawing defenses and dishing inside, as Blake currently averages 5.8 assists per game.
Steve Blake is a starting quality Point Guard who adds both poise and passion to a young and sometimes unstable bench. Additionally, he is tenured and a true professional who can willingly fill any role to help put the team in winning position. When breaking down the impact of the trade blow-for-blow, the Warriors seem to have both cleared some space and satisfied a crucial need on their bench. He has proven thus far to be a smart pickup, showing promise of both the right ingredients to lead and to help even out the experience divide for Golden State.
The move looks to be a good fit for the Warriors, and Blake confirms he enjoys backing up Curry. If Blake can fill in and produce, helping to keep the starting five healthy and at peak performance, Golden State has as good a shot as any in the Western Conference. Both Blake and the Dubs have one goal in mind, and he seems confident they have what it takes,
” If my role is to come off of the bench…and I can contribute in a way we’re winning, I’m all for it. All I want to do is win right now–and I think this team really has the chance to do it.”