The Golden State Warriors have been without a majority of their big men recently, but they could be regaining their depth at the position soon.
After practice Sunday, coach Steve Kerr provided injury updates on Willie Cauley-Stein, Kevon Looney and Alen Smailagic. Cauley-Stein, who has been out with a left foot sprain, has been cleared for non-contact activities, per NBC Sports Bay Area’s Logan Murdock. Stein won’t be available for the season opener Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Looney reportedly has a good chance of playing in the opener, and he would likely start at center, per The Athletic’s Anthony Slater. Looney tweaked a hamstring during training camp, and he missed all of the preseason.
Smailagic, a rookie, suffered a sprained ankle in the preseason. Kerr said Smailagic could be available, per Murdock. Last season Smailagic played for the Santa Cruz Warriors, the Warriors’ G League affiliate.
With Looney likely playing, he would bring stability to the Warriors’ interior. Golden State doesn’t have one of the most versatile defenses in the league anymore, so there will be more pressure for its back line to protect the paint.
Along with Looney’s size on defense, his solid play in the pick-and-roll should help, too. D’Angelo Russell excels in making the right plays out of the pick-and-roll, and Looney could be a good option for him. Cauley-Stein is better than Looney in the pick-and-roll, so once he returns, then the Warriors’ offense has another option down low.