The Golden State Warriors finally got Klay Thompson back in the lineup after missing the last two seasons, but now Draymond Green will sit out the next two weeks while he struggles with a calf injury that’s related to a bulging disc in his lower back.
The Warriors are also anxiously waiting for Steph Curry to snap out of his shooting funk. Thompson’s return has been the only good thing to happen to the Warriors since the new year began. Otherwise, they’ve been a hot mess in January.
The Warriors (31-12) coughed up the top spot in the Western Conference and slipped to #2. The Phoenix Suns (33-9) grabbed the #1 seed and leveraged a mini-tailspin from the Warriors, who are 4-6 in their last 10 games after starting the season 27-6.
Despite their mid-season road bump, the Warriors have the second-best record in the NBA. They’re +475 odds to win the 2022 NBA championship, as the second-top team on the NBA futures board behind the Brooklyn Nets, who just lost Kevin Durant for 4-6 weeks with a knee injury.
Bad cop Draymond
Green missed the last three games with a calf injury that’s related to a bulging disc in his back, which was revealed in a recent MRI. If anyone has ever experienced a back injury, then you’re aware of how it often affects another part of the body while you try to overcompensate for the pain. In the case of Green, the disc injury led to a calf issue.
“The main thing is to be safe and cautious,” said head coach Steve Kerr. “It’s a long season. That’s my sense. That we’re being cautious.”
Green will miss at least two weeks, after which, the team will re-evaluate his progress. The Warriors will need a healthy Green in the postseason if they expect to compete for a championship.
Green only averages 7.9 points per game, but he pulls down 7.6 rebounds and 7.4 assists. Love him or hate him (most people, even Warriors fans, hate him), Green has been the glue holding the Warriors together. He’s the bad cop to Curry’s good cop. He gets down and dirty in the muck and gets inside opposing players’ heads. He’s the guy who might jab you in the groin while trying to grab a rebound or throw an errant elbow while boxing you out.
Green is also a valuable enforcer. Opponents know not to mess with Curry or take out his legs while shooting because you’d have to deal with Green hunting you down for payback, and then some.
Draymond Green injury update: pic.twitter.com/TiFYe9VUow
— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) January 16, 2022
Bench mob: Porter and Kuminga
Without Draymond, the Warriors will rely upon their bench to step up and fill the void. Backup power forward Otto Porter, Jr gets his chance to shine. Porter averages 8.2 points and 5.2 rebounds off the bench this season. He had a remarkable performance against the Utah Jazz on New Year’s Day and missed a triple-double with a season-high 20 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists.
Rookie Jonathan Kuminga will also see increased playing time off the bench. The 6-foot-8 power forward saw limited action averaging only 11 minutes per game in the first half of the season. Kuminga averages 6.2 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.
The Warriors made a bold move by taking a flier on Kuminga with the seventh-overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Originally from the Congo, Kuminga bypassed the NCAA and signed a one-year contract with the NBA G League. He played his gap year with the Ignite and impressed scouts while averaging 15.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game.