The Golden State Warriors have had a ton of problems this season: Harrison Barnes‘ struggles off the bench, not being able to stay healthy, Klay Thompson‘s inconsistency on offense, and the bench has been a big, steaming pile of deer poop that would give the stink of the Milwaukee Bucks a run for its money. But if you had to identify the biggest worry for this team in terms of competing in the postseason, it’d be that Stephen Curry and the starters might not have enough left in the tank by the time April and May roll around.
Wednesday night, the Warriors sought to do something about that and traded Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks to the Los Angeles Lakers for Steve Blake. While trading for a Lord Voldemort look-alike probably won’t go down as the sexiest trade in Dubs history, it’s a huge step in the right direction to keep Curry fresh for the postseason and bolster a bench that badly needs bolstering.
The Warriors have hardly been able to keep Curry off the floor for too long, so it’s hard to fault Mark Jackson too much for playing him almost 38 minutes every night. Curry has a plus-minus of 7.6 points per game, putting him in the top five in the league, per NBA.com. But because of Jackson’s refusal to play Andre Iguodala as a backup point guard and Toney Douglas‘ inability to provide meaningful minutes before being traded away, Golden State has needed a guy with a ton of prior ankle issues to log big minutes.
Trading for Jordan Crawford hasn’t been the answer either. Before last night’s game, Crawford was averaging just 6.3 points and 2.2 assists in less than 17 minutes per game, but those limited minutes didn’t prevent him from committing 1.6 turnovers and chucking up 6.4 shots per game. That kind of production makes it even harder to leave Curry on the bench for too long. Plus, Crawford isn’t really the ball handler the Warriors need off the bench.
Enter the White Mamba, who probably won’t be able to stop Crawford from putting up a high volume of shots in a short amount of time, but will be able to handle the ball and has a knack for setting up his teammates. Blake is averaging 9.5 points, 7.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game while shooting 40 percent from 3-point range. He’s also one of 16 players this season that has a triple-double and at the very least, will be a serviceable backup that can take the pressure off Curry to log so many minutes.
Does Blake turn the Dubs into a title contender? Not particularly. Barnes will still need to find his game, Andrew Bogut will have to stay healthy, Thompson will have to be a little more consistent from downtown and Golden State’s bench will have to provide meaningful playoff minutes eventually. But Blake is an underrated guard who can run the offense, set up teammates for easier looks, knock in a couple of threes and be pretty effective against opposing team’s backup guards.
Considering what the Warriors had to give up, this was a magnificent trade for a team that wants to climb higher than seventh in the Western standings. The Lakers are one trade away from getting under the luxury tax, but all the Warriors lose with this deal are a couple of young players that haven’t cracked the rotation and of course, an exuberant towel-waver in Bazemore. Blake might not be a high-profile acquisition, but he’s the exact kind of addition the Warriors will be thankful for come playoff time. Even without the NBA’s most endearing cheerleader.
If a Curry 3 falls and there’s no Bazemore to cheer it, does it make a splash?
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) February 20, 2014