What will Warriors’ lineup look like if Draymond Green misses games?

The hits the Golden State Warriors absorbed in the throes of rampant, league-wide positive COVID-19 cases are many.

On Sunday, Draymond Green reportedly entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, joining Jordan Poole, Damion Lee, Andrew Wiggins and Moses Moody. Under the current 10-day mandate, Green will be unavailable for the next four games: Tuesday at Chase against the Denver Nuggets, a rematch in Denver on Thursday, a New Year’s Day clash in Salt Lake City with the Jazz, and a Jan. 3 home game against Miami.

Barring two negative tests within a 24-hour window, the Warriors will be without the services of Green for this challenging four-game stretch.

The Warriors were fortunate to win games without their second- and third-best scorers – Wiggins and Poole, respectively – and without the depth of Lee and Moody. However, winning without Green is a completely different animal.

Green is among the top candidates for the Defensive Player of the Year and serves as the team’s “middle linebacker” while roaming from perimeter to post to disrupt offenses. He routinely guards multiple positions and covers blown assignments.

Offensively, Green is the Warriors’ primary playmaker. He doesn’t just facilitate, he also provides auxiliary scoring when defenses double team and top-lock Stephen Curry.

The Warriors will have to try to win without their second-most important player. Here are some lineup iterations that the Warriors could try implementing during these forthcoming games.

Bjelica starts

Bjelica has the ability to create plays. We first saw that in the preseason games, as did Green.

“I didn’t even know (Bjelica) could make plays like that off the dribble, “ Green told reporters in October. “I had no clue.”

Bjelica won an MVP award in the EuroLeague, where he not only scored but facilitated for others. Now with the absence of Green, inserting Bjelica in the lineup and letting him set up plays for others will provide some sort of continuity offensively. Assuming that Curry is still available, he and Bjelica can operate out of pick and rolls.  Curry can also operate off the ball at times.  While Curry takes two and sometimes three men with him, there will be opportunities for Bjelica to contribute in the lane, as well as the perimeter.

On the other hand, with Bjelica as a starter, the Warriors are likely to suffer defensively. Bjelica hustles, but he has a tendency to get beat more often than not and can be undisciplined in terms of fouling.

JTA starts

Juan Toscano-Anderson is a possible optiomn. He is streaky offensively, but he makes up for it in hustle and on the defensive end. His athleticism and energy will be greatly needed for a team that’s currently down to nine active and available players.

Playing either JTA or Bjelica could be determined by who returns first between Wiggins or Poole. If Wiggins returns first, we’d lean toward Bjelica starting because of his playmaking ability. Wiggins has been contributing a lot on offense, but he has also been very good on the defensive end.

If Poole returns, we’re leaning towards JTA. He not only brings hustle, but he’d also bring more defense than Bjelica. Poole still has some strides to make defensively, so someone like JTA could be there to help if Poole misses his rotations.

Iguodala starts

Andre Iguodala isn’t in the Covid protocol, but he has been hampered by a problem with his 38-year-old knees and didn’t play against Phoenix. If he’s available, it’s possible he would start at the 3.. A lineup of Curry, Poole or Gary Payton II, Iguodala, Otto Porter, Jr, and Looney would be ideal in these circumstances.

In Iguodala, you’ve got a player who knows the system inside out and can provide playmaking and defense. He knows where and when to get Curry the ball. Moving Porter to the 4 is a stretch, but he has the size and can shoot and provide spacing.

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