Moses Moody

Kerr's Moody experiment paying off after impressive night vs. Knicks

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More than a few eyebrows were raised this week when Steve Kerr, after pondering who would fill the vacancy created by Andrew Wiggins’ leave of absence, turned to Moses Moody.

Hasn’t Moody been in and out of the rotation all season? Wasn’t his place on the depth chart behind Lester Quiñones, whose two-way contract was converted to a standard NBA deal last week?

The answers to both questions are yes, and yes, but the needs of the Warriors rendered those matters to trivia. The only pertinent question was whether Moody could handle his new role.

The answer, through his first two games, is yes – and it was emphasized Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, where Golden State raced to a 110-99 win over the injury-weakened New York Knicks.

“Moses really stood out tonight,” Kerr told reporters in New York.

Moody gave the Warriors eight points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block on Alec Burks during a crucial stretch of the fourth quarter. He was a team-best plus-23 over 26 minutes.

There are several reasons Kerr summoned Moody to enter the starting lineup. One, he has a history of trying to avoid disrupting rotations.

Two, as someone who was in and out of the rotation as a player, Kerr realizes the value in giving a patient reserve an opportunity.

Three, and perhaps most important, Moody has the best chance of replicating the perimeter defense offered by Wiggins. At 6-foot-5, with a 7-foot wingspan, his physique and defensive approach simulate what Wiggins brings.

In this game, that meant trying to contain Jalen Brunson, New York’s 6-foot-2 All-Star point guard who is averaging 27.7 points per game. Operating mostly against Moody, Brunson finished with 27 points against the Warriors, but he needed 25 shots to get there.

“We wanted to put that kind of size on Jalen,” Kerr said. “You really don't want to have a smaller defender on him, just because he's so strong and he can kind of bully you in the paint. Moses did a good job using his length and his size just to try to stay in front of him in between him and the basket.”

Moody has started six games this season, and Golden State has won five. This one, however, came with the biggest challenge yet and under the bright spotlight that comes with being on national TV.

He easily passed the test.

“He was huge,” Stephen Curry said of Moody. “That’s the first thing coach mentioned when he came in the locker room after the game. Obviously, without Wiggs in the starting rotation, you have to have somebody come in with a defensive mindset. With that assignment and how well Jalen's been playing all year, he might still get his numbers, but you make him work. And that helps us on both sides of the floor.

“Those are the little things that a guy like Moses can do to help change a game and take advantage of the opportunity that he has with Wiggs out.”

Moody also contributed significantly in his start Tuesday night, draining four 3-pointers for 12 points in win over the Wizards in Washington. He’ll likely get another opportunity Friday night against the Raptors in Toronto.

There is no return date for Wiggins, but he’ll eventually move back into the starting lineup. Meanwhile, all eyebrows can come down. The Warriors have a solid replacement.

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