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Warriors' offense by committee is best hope with Steph, Klay slumping

Warriors' offense by committee is best hope with Steph, Klay slumping originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – The Warriors for many years thrived with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson lighting up scoreboards, often combining for 50 or 60 points per game while their teammates filled the offensive gaps.

This choppy 2023-24 NBA season has shown that formula for offensive prosperity is obsolete. Those Warriors ran asunder in the second decade of this century.

The offense of today’s Warriors rises and falls not with the thirtysomething “Splash Brothers” but mostly with the twentysomethings dotting most of the roster.

If those guys are finding or otherwise contributing to buckets, as they did Tuesday night in a crucial 104-100 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, the Warriors can compete with any team in the NBA.

“We need everybody to be clicking at the right time,” veteran center Kevon Looney said. “We need Steph and Klay and Draymond (Green) and CP (Chris Paul) to be playing at a high level. But we also need the young guys playing at a high level for us to be really, really good.”

Neither Curry nor Thompson reached their offensive standard, with the two combining for 27 points on 10-of-32 shooting (31.3 percent) from the field, including 5-of-13 (38.5 percent) from deep.

Meanwhile, their teammates were shooting 31-of-58 (51.7 percent) overall and 10-of-19 (52.6 percent) from beyond the arc.

Andrew Wiggins, 28, led Golden State scorers with 23 points. Moses Moody, 21, added 12 points in 20 minutes off the bench. Rookies Trayce Jackson-Davis, 24, and Brandin Podziemski, 21, tied for team-high in rebounds with 10.

“This season has been about that transition,” coach Steve Kerr said. “The younger guys playing more and producing more, and the older guys handing over some of the responsibilities. We’ve found a pretty good mix.”

Curry and Thompson are averaging a combined 43.6 points per game this season, their lowest since Kerr took over as head coach in 2014. Their percentages are at or near career lows. Curry, 36, is in his 15th season. Thompson, 34, is in his 10th active season.

They’ve carried the offensive load for Golden State for so long, it has become apparent this season that they can only go so far without considerable support from their younger teammates.

And as the Warriors make what they hope will be a superb finish, the youngsters are stepping up.

“Other guys have grown,” Green said. “You’ve got Moses coming off the bench for 12 points. We need Wiggins to stay aggressive.

“Guys are learning how to play off them,” Green added, referring to Curry and Thompson. “You don’t necessarily have to get them a shot, but you can use them to get yourself a shot. Guys are learning more of that. When you do that, the gravity that those two guys can pull opens up some things on the floor. And you have to learn how to take advantage of those things.”

The Warriors’ most productive youngster, 21-year-old Jonathan Kuminga, has been their No. 2 scorer, behind Curry, since December, averaging 18.3 points per game. He has missed the last four games, and his young comrades have picked up the slack.

I asked Looney if the Warriors could make a strong postseason run without the twentysomethings making a significant impact. His answer: “No.”

Asked Draymond if the twentysomethings absolutely had to deliver for the Warriors to have an extended postseason. His answer: “One hundred percent.”

The combined average scoring of Kuminga, Wiggins, Podziemski and Moody tops that of Curry and Thompson. The Warriors now have an offense by committee, with Curry and Thompson as charter members.

“At this point of their careers, you can’t ask those guys to do what they did five or six years ago,” Looney said. “They still can a lot of times. But on nights when they don’t have it going, our job is to bring the juice and energy and keep it close.

“If we keep it close, Steph, Klay and Draymond can figure out how to win the game.”

Curry and Thompson remain capable of scoring 50 points in any game. Probably will before Warriors pack up for summer. But getting help for the thirtysomethings is this team’s only realistic chance to survive the play-in tournament and win a first-round series.

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