The Portland Trail Blazers find themselves on a six-game losing steak, and they haven’t won at home since November 22nd. Injuries have been an ongoing issue of course, but not any more. With the exception of Robert Williams III the team is back at full strength. Having the likes of Jerami Grant and Malcom Brogdon on Saturday didn’t help though as the Blazers fell to the Dallas Mavericks 131-120.
The Golden State Warriors are adjusting again to life without Draymond Green for the foreseeable future. On Saturday they got the job done and defeated the Brooklyn Nets 124-120. Both teams will be on the second night of a back-to-back, but Portland gets to stay at home while Golden State will have the added burden of travel with no day off.
Golden State Warriors (11-14) at Portland Trail Blazers (6-18) - Sunday, Dec. 17 - 6:00 p.m. Pacific
How to watch on TV: Root Sports, NBA League Pass
Trail Blazers injuries: Robert Williams III (out)
Warriors injuries: Gary Payton II (out), Draymond Green (out)
SBNation Affiliate: Golden State of Mind
Blazer’s Edge Reader Questions
Riding the Pine:
Given Chauncey’s emphasis on defense, is Ant a better fit as 6th man with Scoot returning to the starting lineup?
Sometimes the pieces don’t fit together exactly the way you want them to. Anfernee Simons is playing so well that he simply has to start. That’s where you start Ant and you figure out what to do from there. At the moment it’s putting Scoot on the bench, and that’s fine. He’s getting his confidence up and getting plenty of minutes. As far as Simon’s defense goes I think we are seeing some signs that he still has room to grow on the defensive side. A healthy lineup with Grant and Ayton can perhaps help Simons take his defending up a notch. At some point Scoot will need to start again, but for now it’s not really a problem.
Will the Warriors trade for a center to try and salvage their season, or do you think it’s time for them to look towards a rebuild?
What does their draft capital look like should they choose the latter?
Golden State certainly isn’t making any noise about blowing it up. I think they will be buyers before the deadline, and you are right to look at the center position. The Warriors don’t have any seven-footers and opponents have been able to exploit that roster flaw. For a team thought to be in win-now mode Golden State isn’t in too bad of shape with their picks. They have all of their first-rounders from 2025 to 2029. Of course with Portland holding their 2024 pick, the Warriors can’t trade their 2025 pick, but they could trade 2026, 2028 and throw in a few pick swaps if they really wanted to. My guess though is they’ll make a couple of infuriating trades where they’ll pick up a few solid players for some of their youngsters.
What To Watch For
- Klay Thompson. After only scoring seven points in the now infamous Draymond-hits-Nurkic game, Thompson had his highest scoring game of the season against the Clippers on Thursday with 30 points. He followed that up on Saturday with 24 points against Brooklyn. Two quality scoring games aren’t quite a trend, but it is welcome news for Golden State. Steph Curry is trying to carry this team on his back, but to succeed with this roster as currently constructed the Warriors really need Thompson to keep up his recent level of scoring.
What Others Are Saying
Joe Viray of Golden State of Mind writes that Klay Thompson is still very important for the Warriors.
Two things can be true of Thompson: He’s not exactly surpassing or even matching the value of his current contract, one that is set to pay him $43.2 million this season before it expires. But at the same time — with how this roster is built and how their offense works — he remains a crucial piece of their overall machinery.
Jon Hoefling of USA Today goes the other way and says that Thompson’s future with the Warriors should be in question.
According to Cleaning the Glass, the Warriors are a 38-win team with Thompson on the court in 2023. Thompson’s efficiency rating is an abysmal -10 though. Meaning when he doesn’t play, the team performs like a 48-win squad. Just last year, Thompson had the Warriors playing like a 50-win squad when he was on the court, compared to 41 wins when he was off. That precipitous drop cannot go unnoticed.
Golden State isn’t making any noise like they are going to move on from Green, but his indefinite suspension might impact Green beyond the Warriors, according to Greg Beacham of the Associated Press.
Compounding Green’s woes, the suspension almost certainly means he won’t play in the 65 games usually required for a player to be eligible for postseason awards under the NBA’s new participation policies, which means his annual spot on the all-defensive team is in jeopardy. And it surely will be part of what USA Basketball takes into consideration when deciding whether Green, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, deserves a spot on the team that will go to next year’s Paris Games.