This should be Warriors’ Game 3 starting lineup with Draymond Green suspended vs. Kings

The Golden State Warriors will face what amounts to a do-or-die Game 3 against the Sacramento Kings without Draymond Green.

The league office dropped the hammer on Green Tuesday night, shocking the defending champions by suspending him for Thursday’s contest after he retaliated to Domantas Sabonis’ ankle grab by stomping on his chest midway through the fourth quarter of Game 2.

Green’s absence for the biggest game of the season—a contest that could effectively decide the long-term fate of this team’s dynastic core—poses endless on-court questions for Golden State, none of which will be answered in full by whoever replaces him in the starting lineup. But getting that one right could be the main difference between the Warriors crumbling under intense pressure and rising to meet the moment at Chase Center.

As Thursday’s pivotal Game 3 approaches, here’s Golden State’s best starting lineup with Green once again barred from action when his team needs him most.

Warriors’ best Game 3 starting lineup with Draymond Green suspended

Stephen Curry-Klay Thompson-Andrew Wiggins-Jonathan Kuminga-Kevon Looney

Steve Kerr has never shied away from making dramatic lineup and rotational changes during the postseason. Three players seem like Green’s best and most realistic replacement in the starting five for Game 3, but it wouldn’t be totally shocking if four more got their number called to open Thursday’s must-win—with some segments of Dub Nation advocating loudest for a promotion from that group.

Don’t be seduced by JaMychal Green’s positional designation. He was dusted off for a single 50-second stint in Game 2, subbing in for Kevon Looney at center and immediately getting out-muscled by Sabonis for an offensive board before Draymond came back for him.

Green will probably get some burn in Game 3, but it won’t be as a starter or frontcourt partner next to Looney. He just doesn’t give the Dubs enough size, stretch or stylistic versatility to play a significant role with their collective back against the wall.

At least two-way Andrew Wiggins is back for the playoffs, right? His superlative effort highlights reactions from the Warriors’ frustratingly familiar Game 2 loss the Kings.

(via @armstrongwinter)

— Warriors Nation (@WarriorNationCP) April 18, 2023

Anthony Lamb comes closer, especially given his comfort throwing his body around in the paint, but has yet to appear in the first round. He’ll likely play on Thursday, too, with his minutes subject to real-time effectiveness and foul trouble elsewhere.

Golden State played small just more than 70% of the time over the first two games of this series, per research at Cleaning the Glass, mostly putting Wiggins or Gary Payton II at nominal power forward next to Draymond or Looney. But there’s a difference between downsizing up front and on the perimeter, one that coupled with Sacramento owning the offensive glass makes Jordan Poole and Donte DiVincenzo unlikely fifth starters.

Poole is still battling the left ankle sprain he suffered in Game 1, and DiVincenzo—who didn’t take a shot Monday night in 12 minutes off the bench—has been absolutely abused by De’Aaron Fox one-on-one. They’re bound to see time next to Curry in the backcourt on Thursday, but that combination could be easy prey defensively for Kings bench units without Draymond, let alone a starting unit featuring Fox, Sabonis and Kevin Huerter.

Who does that leave as Golden State’s most viable fifth starter for Game 3? Payton, Moses Moody or Kuminga.

With Andrew Wiggins still getting up to speed, Jonathan Kuminga’s presence looms extra large against the Kings—especially if he can be on the floor in crunch-time.

(via @armstrongwinter)

— Warriors Nation (@WarriorNationCP) April 12, 2023

Payton is the only defender other than Wiggins who’s proven capable of hanging with Fox and Monk off the bounce. He leads the Dubs with four steals and a tied team-high of five deflections through two games, and has been a threat on the other end spotting up for open corner threes and finishing from the dunker spot. He processes the game as a screener and passer more quickly than anyone on the roster beyond Draymond and Curry.

It’s no accident Golden State’s most-used lineup in the playoffs so far has been Payton alongside its core four of Curry, Thompson, Wiggins and Draymond, per Cleaning the Glass. That quintet, with Looney in Draymond’s place, will remain Kerr’s security blanket in Game 3 unless another role player pops off in front of the Warriors’ home crowd.

Payton hit his de facto limit with 27 minutes on Monday night, though, more than he played in any game during Golden State’s title run this time last year. Most important for the Dubs is Payton being fresh for crunch-time, hounding Fox and Monk on the ball, not starting and risking foul trouble and fatigue.

Moody is the wild card here. He acquitted himself well while taking Kuminga’s spot in the rotation after halftime of Game 2, crashing the glass with intention on both ends while keeping the offense flowing. Not always aggressive seeking his shot from deep, Moody at least gets guarded across the arc off-ball like a dangerous three-point shooter, unlike Payton and Kuminga.

But there’s no denying he’s a half-step slower defensively than those guys, another target for Fox and Monk in pick-and-roll or isolation. Looming large among many Warriors disappointments from Games 1 and 2 is Kuminga essentially functioning as such defensively, too. Based on what went down at Golden 1 Center, there’s not much reason to believe Moody will fare any worse checking Fox and Monk than Kuminga.


Just the possibility of him emerging as another disruptive defender of Sacramento’s explosive ball handlers gives Kuminga an edge, though. He also hasn’t shown the ability to make a difference in random spot minutes the way Moody has, far better throughout 2022-23 with the assumed assurance of a lasting role from tipoff to the final buzzer.

Considering his defensive tools, finishing dynamism and transition prowess, why not start Kuminga in Game 3, affording him the confidence needed to scrape the ceiling he hit throughout the back half of a promising regular season?

Giving Kuminga that responsibility could activate him as a rebounder, too, a decidedly lacking area of his game Kerr has continued harping on in the playoffs. He’ll be left alone in the halfcourt, dared to launch weak-side triples just like Draymond, but at least has the explosive athleticism and footwork craft needed to eat up space off the dribble if his jumper isn’t falling.

Kerr almost has too many lineup buttons to push in Game 3, none of which could possibly account for the layered two-way ripples of Draymond’s absence. He’s one of one for the Warriors.

But just because they’re a much different team sans Draymond doesn’t mean the Warriors can’t reach a championship peak without him for 48 minutes, especially at Chase Center. Starting Kuminga and using a variable rotation from that point onward represents the best chance of them getting there.

The post This should be Warriors’ Game 3 starting lineup with Draymond Green suspended vs. Kings appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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