Our story begins in the fourth quarter of Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, where a 104-76 scoreline prompted Golden State and Dallas coaches to empty their benches for the final stretch of the series opener. explosive.

In response, Reggie Miller on the call proclaimed, “I have a sneaky feeling. I think these minutes are going to be important for
[Nemanja] Bjelica and Kuminga because at some point these two guys are going to have to play important minutes in this series.

Unbeknownst to him, he made a glaring omission in his statement; the player who really needed those reps was Moody. And during that seemingly meaningless streak, Moody showcased two features that would come in handy to Golden State later in the series — his finishing and defensive versatility.

Game-Finish

These days, NBA offenses are so prolific that even the most venerable defenses can’t knock every piece off the board. This leads to teams strategically conceding certain shots in order to focus on the player or players they deem most dangerous (see the Milwaukee Bucks defense against the Boston Celtics in the second round).

When taking on the Warriors, the Splash Trio is given the highest priority, and those standards lead to open eyes for the least esoteric sniper in the bunch.

From then on, Moody fell under that designation. And to his credit, he did a great job burning the Mavericks for neglecting to defend him, draining 50% of his triples (albeit in a miniature sample).

Cut and movement rule the day in Golden State’s perpetual motion offensive system. Moody got the memo, and he did a great job of knowing when it was appropriate to back off and maintain his perimeter spacing, and when it was time to fill in the lane and rock the Golden Gate Bridge with a blowout. seismic at the edge. .

Defensive versatility

As Seth Partnow noted in his recent book, “The Midrange Theory,” versatility is the key to playoff success – the old paradigm of Carlos Boozer and Robert Horry.

This maxim is especially true on defense, where we’ve already seen several playoffs cut short due to a lack of scheme versatility. (I hope the people of Utah are doing well on this beautiful Friday afternoon.)

Moody was far from anchor there, but the Warriors defense stayed afloat for his minutes, in part because of his ability to wear multiple hats at that end of the field.

We’ll start with his off-the-ball work and that eye-catching reception:

Along with that reception, Moody deflected two more passes during that same quarter, prompting Warriors writer Marcus Thompson to cite Moody’s contributions as integral to the team’s Game 4 comeback.

Although he’s only created 2 steals in the entire series, pushes like the one he demonstrated in Game 4 leave room for potential growth in a future defensive playmaker.

Moody also did surprisingly well in navigating the 2.9 spot as a low man. He was well suited to his positioning, constantly rocking in and out of the paint to avoid getting a three-second call, while timing his re-entries in a way that allowed him to block rim forays when the moment came. was showing up. .

Finally, Moody even showed some chops as a male defender. On this play, he manages to stay attached to Jalen Brunson in the middle of Jordan Poole’s hurdling effort, then mirrors his moves before hampering his rim attempt.

Moody’s prowess at the point of attack is more apparent when you understand the leeway he’s been given as part of the Warriors scheme. In my recent article on this series, I looked at how Golden State has specific principles for Luka Doncic ball screens. Well, Moody was one of the few players given the go-ahead to replace him immediately.

He was also empowered by Steve Kerr to lead the Warriors’ revered Box-and-1 roster ship a few times during the third quarter of Game 3. And Moody even got a chance to play in the moonlight in as the team’s defensive coordinator, calling for a zone formation on defense at some point in game 4. (For the Warriors, you can tell it’s a zone when the signalman executes a double raised fist).

To wrap up our story, let’s take a look at Moody’s best two-way streak of the series, where he blocks Doncic, then proceeds to make free throw attempts at the other end of the floor. A perfect encapsulation of his stamp on this series.

Pleasant.

In a class as loaded with talent and promise as the 2021 draft pool, who would have guessed that the player last picked in the lottery would be the last rookie standing.