One of the keys to the Santa Cruz Warriors strong start has been the way they have dominated the paint. Rebounding, second-chance points and defending the lane have all been a part of the Warriors formula, so let's take a look at the players that have been doing the work in the trenches.
At the beginning of training camp Griffin knew that head coach Nate Bjorkgren was expecting a lot out of him on both ends of the floor, and he has not disappointed in any way. Last season he joined the Warriors, when they were still the Dakota Wizards, a quarter of the way through the season and only saw five starts in thirty games. This year has been a complete switch as he's started 8 out of the Warriors first 12 games.
His numbers are up from last season, most notably in the rebounding department. It was to be expected, that his rebounding would increase, as he made the switch from the small forward to the power forward. There have been games that make you think that he belongs in the NBA. The one that sticks out is the game against the Los Angeles D-fenders where he tallied 22 points and 13 rebounds with six of those rebounds being offensive.
Something you can't teach is the passion that he plays with. It's easy to see that he cares about the game of basketball and coach Bjorkgren has said that all season long.
He been interesting this season to say the least. He's not dominant, but he's played much bigger than 6'8" this season. While he's only scored in double figures three times, he's been efficient offensively to go along with his fight in the rebounding department.
He hasn't been spectacular, but he also hasn't disappointed of the bench. Although he has seen his minutes decrease in past weeks. We'll see if the addition of Paul Carter from the trade with the Idaho Stampede affects his playing time.
I don't think there has been any player more surprising that Johnson this season. Two seasons ago he started 34 of 35 games for the Dakota Wizards and just missed averaging a double-double with 16.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, he also won the D-League defensive player of the year award that season. After that year, he jumped to the NBA and spent time with the Hornets and Trailblazers playing in seven and 20 games respectively. The Warriors acquired him on December 14 and he's been as advertised.
While coming off the bench he's averaged 10.9 points per game, but the way he's scoring those points are key. He has lived above the rim and always seems to have a huge dunk every game that energizes the Warriors and gets them out of a slump. Defensively, he's so long that it looks like he's at least 7'5" and that length has lead to him averaging 2.6 blocks per game.
His playing time is starting to climb up past the 25 minute mark, and if I was a betting man I would say it will continue to rise.
Like many of the Warriors he's shown flashes of solid play in some games. His best attribute is that he let's the game come to him. He's shooting a great field goal percentage at 56.5 percent and he's also been solid on defense averaging 2.1 blocks. The fact that he's started all but one game speaks volumes of what he does for coach Bjorkgren's system.