NBA

California Dreamin’: Is Moses Moody ready to play a key role with the Warriors?

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Last summer, the Golden State Warriors revitalized a once depleted and incongruous reserve unit by signing Otto Porter Jr., Nemanja Bjelica, Andre Iguodala and Gary Payton II. All, in some capacity, helped the Warriors reclaim their springtime one-title glory in 2021-22.

A few months later, for reasons both within and outside of Golden State’s control, they’re all somewhere else (Iguodala could possibly return).

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To round out the production of these veterans, the Warriors have added actors like Donte DiVincenzo and JaMychal Green. Outside help isn’t the only or primary way they apparently aim to fortify the bench, however. Their 2020 and 2021 lottery trio chooses all projects to acquire increased responsibilities as well.

Over the past few years, Golden State has sought to tiptoe the delicate balance between the present and the future, and the convergence of those timelines will likely be accelerated this season. Among that trio of recent lottery picks who should see more minutes is Moses Moody, the 14th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

His rookie role was sporadic, though ultimately quite encouraging. In 52 regular season games and 607 minutes consumed in small chunks, he averaged 4.4 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists on 57.3% true shooting (.437/.364/. 778 split). He also topped his 10 G League appearances, averaging 26 points, six rebounds, two assists, 1.5 steals and a block on 62% TS (.464/.365/.848 split).

Don’t be put off by the low-key statistical production of Moody’s NBA pass. He tended to play a background character and rarely found hits or touches for stretches. The tape, however, portrays a 6ft 5in 19-year-old (he turned 20 on May 31) ready for a dynamite second campaign in a team looking to stay perched atop the league .

Moody’s all-around abilities out of the grip were mind-boggling in Year 1. He proved exceptionally good at attacking fences in a variety of ways, finishing around the rim (61.5% clip), pumping the brakes for bulking up in floaters or making it easier against scrambling defenders. Although prone to occasional record scratches or cumbersome moments of hesitation, he was extremely decisive and insightful in these scenarios.

The closing offense proved to be an NBA-ready skill from the jump for him.

Such a comfortable 19-year-old guard is rare. Hitting fences with such consistency and positive impact is a challenge for any auxiliary player, let alone someone navigating their first season in the conference.

You need to calibrate rhythmic footwork for pull-ups, runners, or layups. You need to dodge oncoming defenders looking to disrupt your round via stunts, digs, and spins. You need to identify the ideal finishing angle in typically cluttered areas. You need to diagnose the ripple effect of an unsuccessful close on the fly and land on the right pick. There’s so much to process in quick succession, and Moody’s is already doing it reliably and appropriately.

The last clip included above was Moody’s regular season opener. He entered the contest three minutes early and wasted little time acknowledging that Anthony Davis’ fence had left the baseline vacant before scoring inside. Rookies drafted outside of the top 10, maybe even the top five, usually don’t work with such credibility in their decisions at the time, especially when Anthony Freakin’ Davis is heading their way.

Moody regularly pulled early fences due to the shot references he had established. Over 60% of his field goal attempts have gone beyond the arc and the dude still has a quick trigger. Opportune contests do not discourage him; he’ll just rise over it and shoot. It will throw screens and transfers, and on the go. Inconsistent game time never diminished his jumper confidence.

In the few games he has considered in the offensive hierarchy, he has been aggressive in pursuit of his looks. He made tangible promises about the prospects of becoming a malleable top-flight shooter, an extension of everything his later film years highlighted. Pair that with its insightful, targeted fit and Moody’s off-ball rating package is aplenty.

Moody’s multifaceted off-ball arsenal is a consistent repertoire in Golden State’s read-and-react scheme. Not only can he thrive as a goalscorer, driver and passer when given the opportunity, he knows how to help amplify those opportunities with his movement and decision-making.

He’s a different player to All-Star Andrew Wiggins, but many of the reasons Wiggins excelled last season (cutting, off-ball shooting, slashing) are traits similar to Moody’s, even though Wiggins is naturally more developed in those facets currently.

Moody’s 2021-22 is a classic example of steals and blocks being an incomplete or faulty barometer of defensive prowess. Despite only collecting 17 steals and blocks combined in his 607 regular season minutes (1.0 per 36 minutes), the lanky winger hasn’t ceased to impress. His positioning and off-ball awareness was exquisite.

Aggressively shutting down bulky, prolific shooters and stopping short against downhill-leaning scorers, he clearly read and digested the opposing personnel’s scouting report. He applies his 7-foot-1 wingspan to deflect or alter passes and challenge shots anywhere on the floor.

The way he pitched between the ball and the man away from the action with such skill was startling. He tracks off-ball movements well and uses his hands to counter assignments without the latter necessarily being reflected in the box score.

The last piece is my favorite. In preparation for LeBron James’ post-up, Moody Shades helps, while keeping an eye on Avery Bradley on the right wing. As Bradley begins to move, faking a cut from Iverson on the strong side, Moody orders Klay Thompson to slip in for help. Once Bradley gets in, Moody covers him and denies Russell Westbrook a passing out, resulting in a three-second violation. Recruits don’t complete all of these tasks in 15 seconds.

Awareness, positioning, communication, it’s all ridiculously advanced for a young player, especially one who has yet to log 750 NBA minutes.

Moody’s on-ball defense is harder to praise. It’s quite steep and slow, and core strength is an important area to address. Many goalscorers zoomed around him or plowed his chest. Adjusting to Golden State’s heavyweight approach — though not always — has been a tough learning curve, but I’m pretty confident next season’s daily playing time will alleviate that shortcoming. He seemed confused about when to change. It’s the kind of obstacle he can overcome easily as he assimilates more, I bet.

Defending on the ball may require longer and more pronounced concentration, although it is by no means irremediable.

Without watching every Warriors game last season, it was hard to decipher the caliber of player Moody was implying. The flashes popped up and I got a general idea of ​​who he was (pre-draft scouting helped me). But we’re talking about a rookie who played over 10 minutes only 27 times, 15+ minutes 21 times, and 20+ minutes 13 times in 104 games (regular season and playoffs).

The sample was, uh, limited. For reference, his freshman peer Jonathan Kuminga has hit those quotas 55, 44, and 31 times.

A study specifically on Moody only broadened my optimism and underscored the mature nature of his skills in valuable facets. He’s a good flexible shooter who can leverage that jumper for bigger contributions. His off-ball defense is technically refined like few other wing defenders his age in recent years.

As he steps into an enhanced role next season, he will illuminate those concepts to a wider audience and help mitigate the loss of Golden State’s veteran bench core.

Moody can play ball. The band never cheats.


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