Steve Kerr, Time to Let the Kids Play
This headline makes it seem like I am pleading to the Golden State Warriors head coach but it appears he is three steps ahead of me already. That at least was the inclination coming into this season when the Warriors made really only one big splash in free agency. That splash was trading Jordan Poole for veteran and future hall of famer Chris Paul. Poole averaged 17.6 ppg last season in a crucial role coming off the Warriors bench. 17.6ppg is a lot to make up so when this move for Chris Paul was the only major addition new GM Mike Dunlevy made this offseason it brought up one major question surrounding this team for this coming season. “Where is the offense off the bench going to come from?”
Chris Paul as I said before has had a hall of fame career but the man is now approaching 40 years old and hasn’t had the same offensive production that Poole has brought since his time back with the Clippers in the mid 2010s. Great basketball IQ and a floor general but scoring was not going to be his main role on this team. To me this said one thing, time to let the kids play. By kids I mean 2021 first round picks Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody.
Things seemed to be trending in the direction of moving away from Jordan Poole when the Warriors were dominated by the Lakers in the western conference semi finals back in May. Poole was making some questionable offensive decisions while Kuminga and Moody showed visible frustration with how they were being used in the Warriors rotations. Steve Kerr even spoke about Kuminga in particular’s frustrations in a press conference on May 4th.
I spoke about this briefly back in September with Patrick Epino on The Oakland Warriors Podcast but the potential has always been there for these two. Moody played some quality minutes that the Warriors desperately needed in their finals run in 2022 and every Warriors fan knows about the flashes we’ve seen with Kuminga’s athleticism. But these two have just never quite had the floor general to help for one get them the ball, and two find them quality shots. Well this season it’s showing up on the stat sheet that these kids can play. So just like Denzel Washington’s character Coach Boone said in Remember The Titans, “Let the boys play!”
— Chris Madrigal (@chris24kmagic) November 7, 2023
Here are the numbers: Jonathan Kuminga is averaging 20.5 mpg this season, scoring 13.2 ppg with 10.6 fga on .462 fg%. This scoring line is up from 22-23 season where he played 20.8 mpg, scored 9.9 ppg with 7.4 fga on .525 fg%. Maybe not quite as efficient with the lower fg% but he’s getting over 3 more shots a game and capitalizing on those attempts.
Moses Moody is playing a lot more this season averaging 18.6 mpg. Up from his 22-23 season where he only played 13.0 mpg. He’s scoring 8.0 ppg, 5.8 fga going .500 fg%. This is also up from last season where he averaged 4.8 ppg, 3.6 fga and shot .476 fg%. But here is the most important part of Moody’s game this season because this team needs a 3pt threat in the second unit with Poole gone. He is getting 3.8 3pa and shooting .368 3p%. This is up from 22-23 where he was shooting only 2.1 3pa on .363 3p%.
Moody’s minutes are dramatically up from last season but Kuminga’s is about the same so this possessed a new question when I was researching, “Why are they more efficient this season than last?” Well, we all know the story with Jordan Poole who has gone viral on social media the past few weeks with his bad decision making and ball stopping offensive play so far with the Washington Wizards. If you haven’t seen it, here is a tik tok video posted by @chavosports a little over a week ago.
Jordan Poole and Kuzma is the most unserious duo of all time #nba
Is Chris Paul that much of an improvement at the 2nd unit PG spot than Jordan Poole? Well, I got more numbers for you folks and let’s just say they tell us a lot. Now these stats may seem a little confusing but the important thing to remember is that these are the averages of the two players (Kuminga & Moody) playing alongside Jordan Poole & Chris Paul vs their opponents they have played. So basically these are how much better or worse their stats are vs who they played against.
Last season Poole and Kuminga played 877 minutes together. In those minutes they were +2.1 ppg better than their opponents. In the playoffs it was even worse playing 29.22 minutes together, averaging -28.3 ppg less than their opponents and shooting -0.079 fg% compared to their opponents.
Poole and Moody are a similar tale. Moody played more minutes with Poole than any other team mate at 452 minutes. They averaged -1.5ppg less than their opponents on +0.019fg% compared to their opponents. In the playoffs, more disappointment playing 88 minutes together averaging -0.8ppg less than their opponents on +0.027fg% compared to their opponents.
Now here are the splits with Chris Paul. Kuminga has played 93.08 minutes with CP3 and is averaging +11.4ppg more than their opponents with a FG% +0.034 higher than their opponents.
Moody has played 74.53 minutes with Chris Paul this season. He is averaging significantly more ppg this season with CP3 at +13.6pts with a FG% of +0.016 better than who he’s playing. But it’s not just that, remember I touched on his 3pt game and how important it is to this 2nd unit for the Warriors? Well CP3 has unleashed that! He is putting up +13.3 3pt attempts more than his opponents and making +0.098 more. This is up from his time with Jordan Poole where he only shot 0.002 3p% better than his opponents.
Moral of the story is Chris Paul can dish it out! Jordan Poole is a very talented player and I don’t think the tik tok video from @chavossports I shared earlier accurately displays his scoring skills, but it shows one major flaw he has vs CP3. Let’s just keep it honest the guy is a little bit of a ball hog. Poole is just looking to get his shots up and not help the other four guys on the floor all contribute and be successful. Chris Paul on the other hand is the definition of that kind of player. He’s a facilitator and a distributor which is what these young kids need to succeed.
It is very early in the season and I realize the small sample size makes this column seem a little premature but I think these numbers tell us one important thing. Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody are going to be very important pieces of this Warriors team not only this season but for years to come. Steve Kerr has finally given over the reigns to these kids and trusts they can produce for this team. So thanks Coach for letting the boys play. Finally…