The Golden State Warriors are in trouble. Between the drama surrounding Draymond Green's recent suspension, Klay Thompson's struggles, and now numerous injury concerns for Gary Payton II and Chris Paul, the Warriors are looking to find any kind of spark to get them out of their recent funk. Perhaps the answer head coach Steve Kerr and this team needs is Moses Moody.
It is kind of ironic to think about Moody possibly being the Warriors' saving grace, especially since Kerr's decision to take the young wing out of Tuesday night's in-season tournament game against the Sacramento Kings resulted in Golden State losing 124-123 after leading by as many as 24 points. Perhaps the Warriors needed to lose this game in order to finally realize that they have something special in Moody on the bench.
In their loss to the Kings, which promptly knocked them out of the NBA In-Season Tournament, the Warriors also lost both Payton and Paul to injuries. Paul left early in the game due to a lower left leg injury which was later revealed to be a nerve issue. As for Payton, the injury news is worse, as the versatile wing is set to be out indefinitely after suffering a torn right calf.
With both players out, Moody was the one who stepped up off the Warriors' bench, scoring 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting, including three made triples, in the fourth quarter against the Kings. The Warriors have now lost eight of their last ten games. Four of their next seven games are on the road against the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Phoenix Suns, four teams who are vying for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Stephen Curry, Thompson, and Green cannot carry the weight of this franchise alone, which is why Moody is going to have to step up as a key contributor either in or out of the starting lineup.
Moses Moody's recent success
Believe it or not Moody has been one of the most consistent players on the Warriors' roster this season. Kerr and the team have always spoken highly of Moody, yet they have not played him large chunks of time due to Jonathan Kuminga, Dario Saric, and Gary Payton II being the three key players to come off the bench alongside Paul.
In his third season with the Warriors, Moody is currently averaging about 17.6 minutes per game, the most he has seen in his young career. Unlike Draymond, Moody does not let his emotions get the most out of him on the court and he almost has a Kawhi Leonard-like vibe to him in terms of strictly doing his job whenever his number is called.
There are some games in which Moody barely plays, as this is the normal life of a bench player in the NBA. However, the 21-year-old has stepped up in his recent contests. Over the last four games, Moody is averaging 8.8 points per game while shooting 65.2 percent from the floor and 62.5 percent from three-point range. Even with his sample size in terms of shot attempts being small, Moody has proven that he can be a reliable contributor.
This is all the Warriors need right now. Payton always brings a little bit of offensive production when he plays, but his impact comes on the defensive side of the court. As good as Moody can perform offensively, he's also an impactful defender given his versatility and sneaky athleticism.
Moody truly is the key to the Warriors being able to get back on track, as they need a young two-way talent that can electrify their second unit. The hope this season was that Jonathan Kuminga would be this play, but Kuminga's offensive upside is still very much in question due to his poor shooting numbers.
Whether it is Andrew Wiggins, Curry, Thompson or someone else, Moody can give any of the Warriors' stars a break on the bench without the team having to sacrifice offensive production. Even though he is still learning and growing, Moses Moody gives the Warriors their best chance to turn recent misfortunes around.
If there is anyone who understands this after the team's recent debacle against Sacramento, it is Kerr.
Steve Kerr's comments on Moses Moody
The Warriors lost to the Kings on Tuesday night for a number of reasons. The team consistently turned the ball over, they continued to foul the Kings possession after possession, and Golden State's shot selection down the stretch was not the best. Despite playing arguably their best half of the season in the first half, the Warriors got comfortable and took their foot off the gas pedal against a team that never stops playing for all 48 minutes.
The decision Kerr made regarding Moody's departure from the game in the fourth quarter also impacted how this battle could have played out. Perhaps the Warriors still would have been eliminated from the in-season tournament, as they needed to defeat the Kings by 12-plus points in order to advance out of the group stage, but all that mattered in this game was picking up a win to move to 9-9. Instead, the Warriors are now 8-10 after beginning the season 6-2.
With Curry, Thompson, Wiggins, Green, and starting center Kevon Looney, it's hard to come to the conclusion that Moody should have been in the game over any of these five players in a critical game with just a handful of minutes left. Looking back on what occurred and how well Moody was playing though, Kerr admitted on Wednesday that he made a mistake.
“I didn't have my best game as a coach. That's a tough, tough loss,” Kerr stated on 95.7 The Game in San Francisco. “I should've left Moses in the game. Moses hit three 3s and he's rolling, and we kind of overthought it. We wanted to get our best defensive group on the floor. But Moses was really good defensively, and watching the tape over again, that was really a terrible decision. I should've left him out there for at least a few more minutes. I regret that one.”
Following his 11-point outburst in about seven and a half minutes of play, Moody was subbed out against Sacramento in favor of Wiggins, who was guarding Kings All-Star De'Aaron Fox the entire game.
Whether or not Kerr made the right or wrong decision is not the lesson here. Learning about Moody's contributions and what he can do for the Warriors is the big takeaway from Golden State's loss in Sacramento.
We have seen countless young talents rise up the ranks within the Warriors organization through the years and make a name for themselves. Moses Moody looks to be and has already proven he's capable of handling big moments in big games, which is why now is his time to emerge as a key weapon for the Warriors.