The Golden State Warriors have found a rhythm just in time to incorporate DeMarcus Cousins into the starting lineup.
The Golden State Warriors haven’t looked like themselves for a significant portion of the 2018-19 NBA season. Injuries, inconsistent lineups, and regular-season apathy have made the defending champs look more vulnerable than they have in years.
After getting off to a hot start, Stephen Curry injured his groin. Then there was the infamous Draymond Green/Kevin Durant beef against the Los Angeles Clippers in November. Tasked with a larger role, Klay Thompson went through one of the worst slumps of his entire career.
Curry and Green returning to the lineup was supposed to fix all of their problems, but they almost multiplied. Head coach Steve Kerr played with rotations, seemingly to the detriment of some of his key players. Their offense stagnated and their defense was disengaged.
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Over the last few games, Golden State has begun going back to its roots. They’re starting to shoot more threes and the defense has locked in, if only for minutes at a time. Perhaps most importantly, Curry is seeing the ball more, becoming more involved in the Warriors’ attack.
Since their stunning collapse to James Harden and the Houston Rockets, the Warriors have won five in a row with wins over the Sacramento Kings, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, and the Denver Nuggets.
The Warriors are feeding the hot hand and putting up points in a hurry. Defensively, they turn up the intensity for small, crucial stretches in order to gain separation from their opponent. They’ve been taking care of the ball and launching from beyond the arc.
There’s a joy in the way that Golden State is playing that was missing before. Like Jay-Z said, I think they’ve got their swagger back. They’re clicking on all cylinders and it could not have come at a better time.
The Warriors will be incorporating All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins into the lineup on Friday against the Clippers. While having the talent that Golden State has is surely every coach’s dream, it can also be a nightmare trying to figure out how to create a gameplan that includes everyone. Cousins didn’t join the Warriors and spend months rehabbing just to take a backseat.
While he won’t reach Curry or Durant levels of usage, it’s not unreasonable for Cousins to expect to get touches and be featured in certain units. He’s trying to prove to other teams–and possibly the Warriors–that he’s all the way back from his injury and worth a big contract.
Adding an All-NBA-level talent like Cousins to the lineup is a challenge and doing so while the team is immersed in chaos is even worse. Golden State was in no position to do so, even just a few weeks ago. Even with a core that had won two championships in a row, their chemistry was just off.
It seems that the Warriors have righted the ship, at least for now. This bodes well for Boogie implementation. Everyone–including Kerr–seems to be on the same page.
Now, that doesn’t mean the Warriors aren’t going to face some problems over the coming weeks and, even, months. They will try different things and find out what works for them. It’s a process, one that everyone seems to be on board with.
But it’s much easier trying to figure out how one piece fits into the larger puzzle than attempting to complete a puzzle when you aren’t even sure what pieces you have. They no longer need Cousins to help inject some life into a listless team.
Now, they’re ready to add the final Infinity Stone and ruin the league.