Relishing depth, Warriors now attempt to quiet Thunder

NBA

Stephen Curry was one of the biggest proponents of the Golden State Warriors filling the 15th spot on their roster.

Just three games into the season, veteran guard Gary Payton II got the chance to show his value when Andre Iguodala missed Sunday night’s game against Sacramento with a sore left hip.

“One thousand percent,” Curry said when asked if Payton’s 17-minute, 10-point performance in the 119-107 win over the Kings showed the value of filling that spot.

Iguodala figures to be back for Tuesday’s game at the Oklahoma City Thunder, but Payton’s defensive acumen and his athleticism figures to be useful for the Warriors at times this season.

Just a few days before the season opened, it wasn’t clear whether the Warriors would fill that spot, releasing Payton and three other candidates to fill the vacancy.

But three days later, Payton re-signed with the Warriors after every other team in the league had a chance to pick him up.

“I would’ve been happy if somebody had claimed him and put him on their roster, but selfishly I wanted him for our roster,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Just glad it worked out because he gives us a dimension out there that really adds to our team.”

The Warriors are 3-0 for the first time since starting the 2015-16 season on a 24-game winning streak.

And while it’d be hard to replicate that start, Tuesday’s game marks the beginning of a 14-game stretch during which Golden State will play 11 games against teams that missed out on the playoffs last season.

After the game in Oklahoma City, the Warriors return home for a season-long eight-game homestand.

Curry is still searching for offensive consistency early in the season. While he scored 45 points Thursday on 16-of-25 shooting — with eight 3-pointers — in a win over the Clippers, Curry shot just under 32% in wins over the Lakers and Kings. He was just 6 of 23 behind the arc in those games.

Golden State won all three games against the Thunder last season, by an average of nearly 33 points per game.

Oklahoma City is coming off a 115-103 home loss to Philadelphia. Rookie guard Josh Giddey was a bright spot in that one, with his biggest game of the season — 19 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals on 8-of-13 shooting.

The Warriors reportedly had targeted Giddey, out of Melbourne, Australia, with the No. 7 overall pick in last summer’s NBA Draft, but the Thunder picked him at No. 6.

Now, Giddey — who just turned 19 this month — is one of the centerpieces of Oklahoma City’s rebuilding project.

“It takes time,” Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault said of Giddey’s development. “There’s nothing linear. … He’s a really, really young player, and there’s going to be a lot of nights where he has a hard time kind of figuring out the cracks of the game, and there’s going to be nights … where it seems effortless, and we can’t overreact to either.”

–Field Level Media

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