Cory Joseph

How veteran guard Joseph fills important Warriors role

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The Warriors took care of their top priority Friday in the opening minute of NBA free agency, agreeing to a four-year, $100 million contract to keep Draymond Green in a Golden State jersey. Two days later on Sunday, general manager Mike Dunleavy handled another area of need on the Warriors’ roster. 

Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul and agent Brandon Cavanaugh told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski their client, veteran point guard Cory Joseph, and the Warriors have agreed to a one-year contract. Joseph’s addition adds to an ongoing Warriors trend and fulfills an important role. 

Steph Curry, 35 years old, and Chris Paul, 38 years old, are the Warriors’ top two points guards and are at the top of the food chain in coach Steve Kerr’s system. They’ll also each need rest and to be preserved at times for the playoffs. Curry missed 26 games last season, first to a left shoulder subluxation and later a lower left leg injury. Paul is expected to be Rick Celebrini’s latest experiment and should sit a handful of games.

His games played have decreased each of the past two seasons, and Paul missed the Phoenix Suns’ final four playoff games because of a strained left groin. 

Both future Hall of Fame point guards’ age and needed care make finding the right third point guard an important role for the Warriors. Joseph is Dunleavy’s answer. 

Joseph is going into Year 13, and spent the last two seasons on the Detroit Pistons. He averaged 6.9 points per game last season after averaging 8.0 the previous season and 12.0 the year before that. Joseph also dished 3.5 assists per game, shot 38.9 percent behind the 3-point line and is a career 35 percent 3-point shooter. 

He did shoot 40.1 percent from deep the past two seasons in Detroit, too.

Donte DiVincenzo, Jordan Poole and Ty Jerome essentially were the Warriors’ three ball handlers behind Curry and Green last season. All three are on the move this offseason, as DiVincenzo is said to be joining the New York Knicks, Poole’s trade in exchange for Paul can be official July 6 and Jerome is going to be a Cleveland Cavalier after agreeing to a two-year contract

Dunleavy's deal for Paul gave Kerr a player he can trust giving the ball and isn’t expected to lose head-scratching turnovers. The Warriors led the league in turnovers per game last season at the fault of numerous players. Poole ranked fourth in the NBA in total turnovers, averaged 3.1 turnovers per game and had a 14.7 turnover percentage. DiVincenzo averaged 1.6 turnovers but his turnover percentage was a career-worst 16.4. 

Like Jerome, who played much more than expected on a two-way deal, Joseph isn’t prone to turnovers. Jerome averaged only 0.7 turnovers per game, gave the Warriors a 4.5 assist-to-turnover ratio and had a 10.3 turnover percentage. Joseph’s turnover percentage was 12.8 last season, and he averaged a mere 0.9 turnovers in 19.8 minutes per game. 

Paul’s 4.60 assist-to-turnover ratio last season ranked fourth in the NBA for players who had 200 or more assists. Joseph, 3.88 assist-to-turnover ratio, was eighth-best.

After the first three days of free agency, the Warriors’ guard rotation consists of Curry, Paul, Klay Thompson, Moses Moody, rookie Brandon Podziemski and Joseph. Gary Payton II is a hybrid in his own ways, and Moody can slide to the wing as well. 

The 31-year-old Joseph is another high IQ player that gives the Warriors the kind of experience they’re now leaning on.

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