March 7, 2021

Morning Mailbag: Did the Warriors get enough in the D’Angelo Russell trade?

Q: Is Damion Lee good? I’m just very curious what your more-detailed take on Damion Lee is. You haven’t talked about him a whole lot and I’m not really hearing his name mentioned much in general but he has developed into a capable perimeter shooter and has shown some signs of playmaking ability, plus he seems to have a great work ethic and carry himself very well on and off the court. – Don.

Look at the last two teams that won the Finals, the Raptors and Lakers. Both teams had plenty of players like Lee who may not specialize in any one thing, but don’t have any glaring weaknesses either. Players like Lee are valuable to coaches who prioritize reliability. Lee can make open jumpers, attack closeouts, rebound and plays defense with effort. He’a an easy plug-and-play option for when Steve Kerr needs to distribute minutes. Here’s my question: Is Kent Bazemore, who the Warriors signed this offseason for the minimum, that much better than Lee? Check their stats from last season.

Bazemore: 68 games (with Portland and Sacramento), 37.5% shooting overall, 34.4% from 3-point range, 4.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 8.8 points in 24.8 minutes per game.

Lee: 49 games, 41.7% shooting overall, 35.6% from 3-point range, 4.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 12.7 points in 29 minutes per game.

Of the two, Bazemore is probably the better defender, but it’s not as if Lee is a player opponents will attack on that end. Because of his experience, Bazemore should see more minutes early, but if Lee has the hot hand, he could get more playing time any given night.

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Q: The Warriors first unit is definitely suited for fast-pace offense, but I feel that the second team is better suited slowing down to play to the strengths of Pascal / Looney / Wanamaker. Can you see Kerr running two different styles of attack? Might make it harder for oppositions to prepare. Thanks! – Guo.

Kerr’s offense prioritizes side-to-side ball movement and constant player movement. You’ll see that regardless of who is on the court. Of course, it will look very different when Stephen Curry is in the game versus when he’s on the bench. Curry’s gravity will create space in a way no one else on Golden State’s roster can, as Andrew Wiggins pointed out during an interview last week. “I played one game with (Curry) last year and I could see the difference,” Wiggins said Thursday. “The open space I had because everyone was paying attention to him. He makes the game easier. ”

When Curry is out, Golden State will still run pin-downs, screen off the ball and facilitate from the low block in the half court, but it’ll be more of a grind. If anything, getting out in transition will be even more important.

Q: When the Warriors traded D’Angelo Russell to Minnesota for Andrew Wiggins and a first-round pick, many Warriors fans criticized the move thinking they didn’t get back enough. In hindsight, do you think they could’ve gotten more this past week or even at the next trade deadline? – Rick.

Use last week’s trade between the Rockets and Wizards as a barometer, when Houston sent Russell Westbrook to Washington for John Wall and a protected first-round pick. The return is similar to Golden State’s deal with Minnesota in February. The teams exchanged talented players on bloated contracts with Minnesota’s top-three protected 2021 first-round pick going to Golden State. It seems the Warriors got back a fair amount for Russell.