2019-20 Season Preview: Guards
For the first time since 2011, the Warriors will not feature a pair of Splash Brothers in the Opening Night starting lineup, but the team’s backcourt still features two All-Stars. While Stephen Curry returns for his 11th season with the Dubs, Klay Thompson will be out for the majority of the season, and looking to help fill that gap is 2019 NBA All-Star D’Angelo Russell.
Though the team patiently awaits the return of Thompson, a five-time All-Star who earned 2018-19 NBA All-Defensive Second Team honors, the Dubs do have a new weapon with Russell. A skilled playmaker and distributor who loves to work off pick-and-rolls, Russell is coming off of his first All-Star selection after career-highs of 21.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 1.23 steals with the Brooklyn Nets. The 23-year-old was originally the second round pick in the 2015 draft and has averaged 16.5 points per game over his four years in the NBA.
Though Russell is a young, dynamic addition to the Dubs’ lineup, some questions lingered over how his style would mesh with the team.
To that, Russell countered: “[the Warriors are] a prime example of an organization and a system offensively that takes advantage and maximizes each individual player. They have done a great job of adapting any player that comes to their roster, so I’m not worried at all about what style of play I’ll have to adapt to. I know it’s going to be special.”
Curry and Russell’s preseason work and compatibility was put on display as they capped off the Dubs’ preseason on Friday at Chase Center to the tune of a combined 61 points between the backcourt duo; Curry finished with 32 points and Russell had 29 as both players splashed six three-pointers each in that game.
The 29 points by Russell was his highest scoring game of the preseason, but Curry had already posted 40-point performance on October 10 against the Minnesota Timberwolves en route to a 26.8-points scoring average in his four preseason games.
Adding to the scoring in the Dubs’ backcourt rotation through camp was rookie Jordan Poole: the confident young shooter averaged 13.2 points with 2.6 treys per game, and got his preseason started with 17- and 19-point nights in the Warriors first two games. Poole, who played two years at Michigan before being selected by the Warriors with the 28th overall pick, played 113 minutes (22.6 minutes per game, second only to fellow rookie Eric Pashcall) across all five preseason games as he prepares to make his NBA debut.
Though the Dubs’ rotation at guard features two new players in the backcourt this season with Curry, who is entering his eleventh season with the Warriors, there are two others who are returning to the team from last year: Jacob Evans and Damion Lee.
Evans was originally drafted by the Dubs last summer as a combo-guard (someone covering the forward and guards), but spent this most recent Summer League working as a point guard as extra support behind Curry and Russell. Evans’ preseason continued his efforts from the summer as he was a consistent contributor on both sides of the court, producing 6.4 points with a block and a steal in just under 20 minutes of action.
Lee, who resigned with the Dubs to his second two-way contract this offseason, added 9.2 points per game; he had at least one steal per game in each of the five exhibition games and ultimately averaged two per game. Lee’s preseason was highlighted with an 18-point , eight-rebound, two-steal night on October 14.
Between the scoring abilities of Curry and Russell, and the defensive awareness of Evans and Lee, the Dubs enter the season with a versatile group in their backcourt.
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