I went to Memphis this weekend to watch the Grizzlies play Golden State. I couldn’t resist the chance to see the Warriors’ machine of an offense at least one time in person this year. Besides, I had a chance to witness a small part of history. The Warriors had to win to keep their chances of beating the ’95-’96 Bulls’ record. It was a gritty game–the Grizz work their butts off, despite having only like 3½ NBA players, and calling Lance Stephenson half an NBA player is probably too generous. But they did keep the streak alive, despite Jordan Farmar, who is somehow only 29 years old, starting at point guard for Memphis. (They went on to beat Jack Niles’ Spurs on Sunday night).
Because of the ugliness of the game, I had plenty of time to think again. Last week, it was traffic that gave me the inspiration for the blog. This week it was Public Enemy No. 22 Matt Barnes shooting 17 shots that let my mind wander. Here’s what I realized: I think Lipscomb is trying to get the same players as Golden State.
Go ahead and settle down. Let me explain myself.
Think about it. Both teams have an incredibly quick point guard, with unlimited range and a green-light from everywhere on the court. Then another shooter that can create off the bounce at two-guard. Neither team asks for anything flashy from the center position: finish around the rim, rebound and protect the rim.
But what makes Golden State so special is the posse of absurdly athletic position-less freaks that rotate in-and-out on the wing. Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, Leandro Barbosa, Brandon Rush and Shaun Livingston all have length and quickness to spare. All of those (besides Livingston) are at least league-average three-point shooters, and are usually taller and longer than their counterparts on the other side. They’re nearly interchangeable but are uniquely skilled. At first glance, Lipscomb doesn’t have that.
That last part is the hardest to replicate. There’s only, like, 12 people in the world that can do what Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes do on a daily basis. But a scaled-down version of those guys looks a little bit like 2016 recruit Kenny Bunton. He’s long and lean, with good touch from behind the line, and no one really knows if he’ll play the three or four. And if you squint your eyes at Eli Pepper, you can see enough length and quickness to switch onto guards from the power forward position and the skill to float to the wing and shoot threes on the other end.
Maybe I’m being too optimistic, but after an up-and-down year, it’s good to know that Lipscomb is building in the right direction, even if the coaches aren’t intentionally trying to recruit the Atlantic Sun Conference version of the Warriors.