The Golden State Warriors have undergone a drastic change this offseason, going from an all-out juggernaut to a team slowly figuring out its roots and crafting its identity from the ground up.
Forward Draymond Green has seen the way the roster has changed from this past season to the current one, and has also made his observations accordingly.
“So last year was a circus – just an absolute show every single night,” Green told USA TODAY’s Sam Amick. “I feel like this year is a whole lot more learning and tinkering… Last year we were trying to win every single game every night. This year we’re trying more things out, we’re trying different combinations, we’re playing more guys trying to figure out what works, and I think it’s good. I think it’s been good for us. And yet, we’ve still been able to win at a really high rate. We’re definitely trying things out, trying to figure out what works.”
Golden State is doing the sensible thing here, as the team felt the result of putting it all out there to eclipse a long-standing wins record of 72-10 set by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. They spent most of their energy in the regular season and fell shy of the ultimate goal, another NBA championship.
“It’s been experimenting with lineups, experimenting with substitutions patterns. It’s been experimenting with plays – down the stretch, experimenting with plays, seeing what works. It’s been a ton of experimenting,” said Green. “Last year, was: ‘We know what to do. Go do it. We know who’s coming in.’ It’s been a ton (compared to last season) – it’s really been all experimenting, for the most part. I mean obviously you have your parts in the game where it’s not, but I’d say at least half a game – including subs, and lineups, and play calls – has been experimenting.”
The clearest adjustment has been at the center position. Andrew Bogut was traded to the Dallas Mavericks while Festus Ezeli signed with the Portland Trail Blazers, leaving an already small team without a rim protector.
Head coach Steve Kerr made the transition from Anderson Varejao becoming the first center off the bench to the more-athletic JaVale McGee, who’s become a reliable long target on offense as well as a more disciplined rim defender.
Kerr had played Pachulia not much longer than the mid-twenties through the first two months of the season, but has started to leave him in the game come the fourth quarter. That comes as something he rarely did through the early stages of the season.
The coaching staff has slowly come to the realization that playing the so-called “death lineup” can be too extenuating to do for long stretches. It leaves the defense vulnerable to offensive rebounds, alley-oops, and open threes, thanks to their switch-happy defense.
As the Warriors tinker with gradual minute changes and start to project who the main cogs would be come playoff time, the roster will start to take shape. For now, the chess match goes on.