After winning the championship last season, the Golden State Warriors have struggled to start this season. They’re currently 7-9, including a 0-8 record on the road, which puts them 11th in the Western Conference — outside the play-in picture.
Slow starts happen but the Warriors are “concerned” about their poor bench unit, according to sources who spoke to Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney.
“I think they’re concerned that this isn’t just a championship hangover thing and it’s not just a Draymond v Jordan Poole thing. The bench is a big, big concern,” a Western Conference executive told Deveney. “They had three boys – [Gary] Payton [II]Otto Porter and [Nemanja] Bjelica – who were big for them last year, and they don’t have anyone to fill those roles. Poole was good but the rest of the bank is a disaster. They have to play Steph and Klay and all the appetizers, a lot more than they want, really.”
So far this season, Golden State’s bench unit has been extremely disappointing. The second unit ranks 25th in three-point percentage (32.7%), 30th in sales (7.3), and 30th in plus/minus (-4.8).
As noted by the board, Poole is the only bench player to offer them decent production and even he has struggled this year. Poole is averaging 15.9 points, 1.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists, but he shoots just 41.5% from the field and 33.9% from long range. Both numbers are down from last year.
Golden State signed Donte DiVincenzo this offseason to replace producing Payton. Unfortunately, he dealt with injury issues earlier in the season, meaning he wasn’t able to help Golden State’s Ben as much as they had hoped.
The executive told Deveney that “they hoped” to give him a lot of responsibility right away.
“DiVincenzo’s injury was tough for them as they hoped to put a lot on him at the start of the year,” said the manager. “The young people didn’t go into their roles the way they wanted. Right now it’s a lot more than the extrajudicial stuff they’re worried about. They worry about anyone beyond the first five.”
So far this year, DiVincenzo has appeared in just eight of the Warriors’ 16 games, playing 16.1 minutes per game. He averaged 4.6 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists on 40.0% shots from the field and 36.4% shots from three-point range.
While reports could indicate potential concerns from Golden State, Warriors legend Chris Mullin said fans shouldn’t worry about the slow start.
“I think what you said, Klay [Thompson] starts taking some shots, suddenly there’s not as much talk about him recovering,” Mullin explained in KNBR’s Tolbert & Copes. “Because honestly I thought what he did last year was a lot more challenging than what he’s going through now. And he handled it pretty well. So I’m really not too worried about that. And then it’s just to acclimatize the young people. On paper they are a perfect match for the older players. [James] Wise man, [Moses] Moody and [Jonathan] Kuminga, long, athletic, explosive athletes. It just hasn’t happened yet. But I think it will.”
Until the Golden State bench turns matters around, they will likely keep fighting.