Golden State Warriors 2nd Best Player Rankings – V 1.0
If you are a fan of the NBA, or even just a sports fan you know who Stephen Curry is. He’s easily the Golden State Warriors best player since bursting onto the scene in 2012. You could even argue he has been the face of the NBA the past 8 years. For the longest time Steph had his two sidekicks on the court Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Depending on what you value more on a basketball team, those two were interchangeable as the Warriors 2nd best player. Klay for his scoring and perimeter defense. Draymond for being the best defensive player in the NBA and his energy he brings particularly as an enforcer.
Well, unfortunately I’m not sure that is the case anymore for this team. When they won their fourth championship two seasons ago it was pretty obvious those two were not in the running for that title anymore. That belonged to Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins took that crown in the Warriors incredible playoff run in 2022 dishing it out on both ends of the floor. Last year, fans expected a similar performance but after disappearing from the team for several months for an undisclosed reason, that crown had been dismantled. But here’s the problem, no one ever picked up the slack. Many thought it could maybe be Jordan Poole last season but we all know how that turned out. He plays for the Washington Wizards now which is all you need to know.
This led me to the question, who is the Warriors 2nd best player this season? So far it has been a collection of guys in the running but no one yet has claimed it. This led me to a fun exercise that I want to keep eyes on all season.
Here are the rankings:
1. Chris Paul
Stats per game:
- 9.4 pts
- 7.4 ast
- 3.7 rebs
- 1.6 stl
- 39% fg
- 1.7 d+/-
When you first glance at these stats I will admit they aren’t as impressive as you would think the #1 ranking should be. The thing with Chris Paul is that it’s about what he does beyond the stat sheet. In my column two weeks ago I laid out the impact he’s had on the young duo of Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody this season. Not only has he made them much improved on offense but much more efficient. Kuminga and Moody aren’t putting up better numbers because they are playing more minutes, it’s because they are getting better quality shot attempts. This is in large part due to playing alongside CP3.
His assists are expected. You don’t get the nickname “Point God” for nothing. What really stood out to me is his defensive efficiency. At 38 years old for him to have a defensive +/- of 1.7 is incredible. For those of you who don’t know what defensive +/- is, it’s the points allowed by a player per 100 possessions on the court versus off the court. So basically if he is in the + he the team allows less points against them than if he is off the court. He still is making the right reads, can be effective when switching on bigger guys, and is still putting the effort in on that side of the floor.
What ultimately led to my decision of putting him at the #1 ranking was what he did in the game against the Timberwolves last Tuesday 11/14. After Draymond Green and Klay Thompson were ejected for the, uhhh let’s call it “scuffle” with Rudy Gobert and Jaden McDaniel and Steph out with his knee injury, Chris Paul single handedly took the reins of this team and willed them to just a 3 point loss to the hottest team in the NBA. Three hall of farmers out of this game and the man LITERALLY put the team on his back and lost in a game that went down to the wire. Keep in mind a game they very well should have gotten spanked in. If that doesn’t say something to you, I don’t know what would.
2. Moses Moody
Stats per game:
- 7.4 pts
- 3.0 reb
- 1.1 ast
- 45% fg
- 34% 3pt
- 2nd highest on team with guys over 3 attempts
- 1.6 d+/-
- Sixth highest on team
- 5th highest among teammates over 200 min
This one may be of some surprise to a lot of you but hear me out. The 3-point shooting can not go unnoticed. This team is not great from 3 this season besides Steph. Having a real 3-point options besides Curry is CRUCIAL to the Warriors offense. Klay will get there sure, but right now Moody’s shooting is the only other person to help spread the floor. Especially in the second unit which really lacks shooting threat.
Also, another guy where the defense can’t go unnoticed. 1.6 defensive +/- is HUGE! With the struggles Wiggins is having they need guys to defend the perimeter and right now Moody and Paul are the only ones who can show they can be relied on.
But THIS is where Moody really stands out. His per 36 stats are 15.4 pts, 6.2 reb, 2.4 ast. Basically, these stats are projections of a player if they were to play 36 minutes a game opposed to how many minutes they actually average. I said it when I made the case for CP3 and in my column two weeks ago, Moody is very efficient this season in the minutes he’s getting. If he can keep this up he will be an important member of this Warriors roster not just in the playoffs but for multiple years to come.
3. Dario Saric
Stats per game:
- 9.1 pts
- 6.4 reb
- 2.0 ast
- 41% fg
- 33 % 3pt
- 0.2 d+/-
- 6th highest on the team of players over 200 min
Ok I can feel the judgment coming through your device. I’m starting to lose you but again, here me out. With Draymond Green out that makes Kevon Looney and Dario Saric the only big men on the roster. Trayce Jackson-Davis has gotten a few minutes here and there but for the most part the Center minutes have gone to these two guys. Saric has really stepped it up on both ends of the floor. He is a modern day big man who can score efficiently at all three levels including from 3. He’s been an incredible rebounder so far giving Looney much needed rest and again, his minutes alongside Chris Paul (I can feel your eye roll…) have turned them into the best pick and roll partnership on the team. Saric has stepped up big with the absence of Draymond Green so for that he shoots up this list.
4. Draymond Green
Nov 12, 2023; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) reacts after a call against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second quarter at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Stats per game:
- 8.8 pts
- 5.1 reb
- 5.7 ast
- 48% fg
- 45 % 3pt
- 2.4 d+/-
This was a tough one for me. Draymond has missed so much time and now it’s mostly because of his own doing but his numbers are hard to look past. He isn’t scoring a lot of points but when he attempts he’s doing it at a very efficient level. I mean look at that 3-point percentage! He has never shot that high from outside. He has the highest defensive +/- on the team which should go as no surprise to anyone because he is one of the best defensive players in the NBA. You can probably directly tribute the Warriors three game losing streak to him because he is a big hole to fill on defense when he is out. But yet, another reason why Saric is higher on the rankings is because of the role he has had to fill with Green gone.
5. Brandin Podziemski
Stats per game:
- 7.1 pts
- 3.8 reb
- 2.1 ast
- 48% fg
- 45% 3pt
- 0.4 d+/-
Purely showing some love to a guy who has been playing his butt off the past four games. Brandin Podziemski is looking like a steal in the draft. Picked 19th overall in this year’s NBA draft the scouting report on Podziemski (aka Podz) at the local Santa Clara University was this kid was a sharpshooter with a great basketball IQ. Not much athleticism but you hoped he could make up for that with his feel for the game. So far he has. He is the perfect role replacement for Donte Divincenzo because, let’s be honest he looks like him but also his game matches that especially on the defensive end.
This is another player where his efficiency doesn’t quite show his impact strictly on the stat sheet. It does much more in his Per 36 numbers. He has 16.3 pts, 8.7 reb, 3.5 ast in per 36 min. When a shot goes up in the air he always seems to know exactly the area the ball is going to bounce off the rim and he attacks the glass as well as any guard I’ve seen. Remember folks this was one of Divincenzo’s specialties. He could rebound better than most guards in the NBA and it looks like Podz is going to be one of those guys too.
Podz makes the top 5 this month strictly because of what he has done for the team since the 11/12 game against the Timberwolves. His stats in the four games are 11.7 pts, 5.7 reb, 3.5 ast, shooting 45% from the field, and 44% from 3-point. Stepping up in a crucial role this team needs this season. A high percentage shooting guard off the bench who can defend and rebound. Doc Rivers famously says “Going into the playoffs you know who your 8-9 guys are, but you trust 7.” I genuinely think Podz makes the 7 Kerr trusts after how well he’s played this last week and a half. It’s shown in his minutes. Kerr is giving him every opportunity to earn that 7th spot.
6. Kevon Looney
7. Klay Thompson
8. Jonathan Kuminga
9. Andrew Wiggins
Looney is Looney. His specialty is rim protection and rebounding better than anyone. He doesn’t offer much on the offensive side but his role as the team’s only real rim protector is extremely important. But because that’s all he does, he doesn’t make the top 5.
Klay is having a rough start. 14 pts, 2.1 ast, 3.3 reb, 40% fg, and 33% 3pt. Klay is in a contract year and if I am being honest he needs to play much better than that if he wants to see the kind of money rumors are saying he is asking for. Let’s hope he steps it up but for now he stays outside the top 5.
Kuminga has made an incredible offensive improvement this season. He’s had a much bigger role off the bench after ending the season in personal frustration with the role he ended with in the playoffs. The kid lived at the gym all off-season and really improved his game. Shooting isn’t great but he is athletic, can get to the rim, and has developed a reliable mid range jumper. His defense continues to be a problem unfortunately and until he improves on that he stays out of the top 5. He has the athleticism to be a good defender but he always appears to be confused. Regularly ending possessions and going into time outs being lectured by Chris Paul. CP will help him get there. I am confident in that.
Last but not least Andrew Wiggins. He falls this far down strictly from disappointment. Logan Murdock said in his piece on The Ringer profiling the Chris Paul’s addition to the team that Andrew Wiggins showed up to camp out of shape. Well, that has been quite evident so far this season. He’s averaging 12 pts, 3.9 reb, 1.1 ast, 43% from the field, and an awful 22% from 3. He was all tense and purposes the title of this column two seasons ago and the Warriors need him to be that if they want to be contenders this season. What he brings to this team on both ends of the floor can’t be replicated by any other player on this team. We saw signs of this on Saturday in the Warrior overtime loss to the Thunder where Wiggins scored 31 points. If he can be that Wiggins this title belongs to him.
Granted it is very early in the season as we are just almost at the first quarter mark. Plenty of basketball to go and these roles are not set in stone quite yet. Anything will happen and I will be here to update you as the season goes along. Keep a look out for the updated Warriors 2nd Best Player rankings V 2.0 because I have a feeling there will be a lot of movement the second time around.
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