Three Warriors showing newfound spark since NBA trade deadline passed

Editor’s note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

With one game remaining before the All-Star break, the Warriors (12-42) have the worst record in the NBA. And yet, despite their misfortune this season, the team seems to be finding some positivity and energy in their play.

Bringing in Andrew Wiggins from Minnesota definitely has increased some intrigue, but a very young squad to start the season has had an even larger youth revival, which has made the Warriors more scrappy than ever. Here are three players that partly are responsible for this new found enthusiasm.

Poole is playing the best basketball of his young NBA career right now, even if the percentages don’t necessarily show it. Over the last two games, Poole is shooting just 27 percent from deep, but a respectable 48 percent overall. Ignore those rates, however, and focus on how he has provided a jolt of energy and ball movement in the last two contests.

Poole nearly played 23 minutes and 31 minutes in the respective games, a little out of necessity, but more out of merit. He combined to have a plus-12 in the games, despite Golden State being an overall minus-17. 

The rookie has had the ball in his hands as a pseudo-point guard, which has allowed him to break down defenses often times by beating his man off the dribble, forcing the defense to scramble and either finding open teammates or taking a normally high percentage shot. Even better, after distributing the ball, Poole continues moving and tries to free himself or other teammates for open looks.

There is no coincidence that the Warriors have responded positively with him on the court the last two games, and the staff hopes he builds on his new playmaking opportunities. 

As I wrote about last week, with the departure of D’Angelo Russell, Glenn Robinson III, Alec Burks and Jacob Evans III, one of the main beneficiaries of the rebuilt roster will be Lee. He already has been consistently starting at shooting guard for some time now, but with the trades, he now will be asked to be more aggressive and simply shoot the ball more.

Against the Heat, Lee finished with a career-high 26 points to go along with tying his career-best of five made 3-pointers.

The free-flowing offense that normally is a staple of Steve Kerr’s game plan is going to be featured more often without Russell, and Lee is at his best in that style of play. With the ball in his hands, Lee has a knack to draw fouls, resulting in opportunities from the free throw line where he has excelled this season.

After going seven-for-seven from the line against the Heat, Lee now is shooting over 88 percent from the charity stripe, good for 16th in the NBA. 

At this point, it is hard to argue against Chriss’ bright future. His high level production no longer is a small sample size, and his comfort at center has grown considerably over the season. The Warriors are quite fortunate that another team did not scoop him up when they waived him earlier this season, but now that he is back and under contract for possibly another season after this, Chriss is making the best of his situation.

Chriss has scored a combined 43 points in the last two games, shooting 68 percent from the field and averaging nine rebounds per game. His rim protection has improved as of late as well, blocking nearly 2.5 shots per game over the last five games.

[RELATED: Andre confident Dubs will ‘wreak havoc’ on NBA next season]

Chriss is an eye-opening athlete, that can play above the rim and give the team a dangerous lob threat, one they have been searching for since JaVale McGee’s departure. The Warriors thought they had found that man in Damian Jones, but injuries and inconsistency made them look elsewhere.

In came Chriss, and now the Warriors feel like they might be have a real piece at center for years to come.

Three Warriors showing newfound spark since NBA trade deadline passed originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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