The 2021-22 Golden State Warriors' season-in-review: Moses Moody
Moody's early season shooting slump didn't negate his reputation as a fearsome shooter, but it did dampen some of his impact metrics. Moody's curious shot profile, his playoff performance, and more.
Moses Moody: B-
When the Golden State Warriors used their 7th overall pick in the 2021 draft on G-League Ignite forward, Jonathan Kuminga, I saw a lot of consternation on my Twitter timeline about leaving former Arkansas Razorbacks wing, Moses Moody, on the board. Six draft picks passed before the Warriors were on the board again and improbably, Moody, was still there. Notable draft experts like Warriors Twitter legend, Evan Zamir, had Moody in the top 5 of their boards, while The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie had him as the 7th-best prospect in the draft. The Warriors reportedly had Moody in the top 10 of their board and him being available with the 14th pick was a widely acknowledged surprise.
The appeal of Moody was obvious; he had ideal size at the wing, transformed his game from a tertiary 3+D role in high school to a primary scorer in college, and has long been lauded for his work ethic. His college coach (and former Warriors coach), Eric Mussleman, sang his praises repeatedly over Twitter and made several compelling pitches for Moody leading up to the draft:
The various attributes that his former coach highlighted contributed to a widely-held perception that Moses Moody could contribute right away to an NBA team, even one with contending aspirations like the Warriors. During training camp, Steve Kerr talked up Moody’s quick learning. From NBCS Bay Area:
“We’ve seen him in the last few days start to pick up on things,” Kerr said late Friday night, after a 121-114 preseason win over the Lakers. “The first few days were kind of a whirlwind for him. But it’s a testament to his basketball instinct how quickly he’s picking things up.”
“He's just got a really good feel,” Kerr said. “He's a gamer. You just put him out there and he seems to be in the right place.”
Moody opened the season on the fringes of Steve Kerr’s rotation but did receive a few minutes of playing time in their first two games of the season. In the third game of the season, Moody got his first DNP and in a road game against the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder, he got his first taste of extended minutes. Moody shot just 1/5 from three in 20 minutes against the Thunder. This would turn out to be something of an omen for the first part of his rookie season — through the first 27 games of his NBA career, Moses Moody made only 5 of his 34 attempts from deep.
Even when Moody’s shot wasn’t falling, he demonstrated impressive defensive ability. Here are a few examples from Moody’s slump-era:
Moody’s reputation as a shooter followed him into the NBA, which made that early-season slump simultaneously tolerable and frustrating. As NBA writer Caitlin Cooper wrote for Five Thirty Eight, the mere reputational threat of a three-point shot can space the floor and force defenders to rotate onto a “threatening” shooter, even if said shooter’s shots haven’t been going in at typical clips. Moody’s reputation as a threat from deep gave him just enough credibility for defenders to close out with conviction when he got the ball behind the arc. These clips below demonstrate some of Moody’s best moments in the early season attacking closeouts — you can see how intriguing he could be if his shot started to fall:
From Christmas Day through late January, Moody only played in 6 of the Warriors’ 19 games. But the month of January was an important one for Moody’s development. The Warriors sent him down to their G-League affiliate in Santa Cruz for four regular-season G-League games and there, Moody found his offensive juice again. In those four games, Moody averaged 31.8 points a game on 52/41/80 shooting splits with 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1.8 steals, and 0.8 blocks a game. After a 27-point performance against the Austin Toros, the Warriors recalled him to the big leagues for a game the next day against the Houston Rockets. Moody started at the wing and scored 11 points in 24 minutes and perhaps most importantly, he hit three of his attempts from deep.
That game against the Rockets turned out to be a turning point in Moody’s rookie season. The next day, Moody scored 20 points in a comeback victory against the San Antonio Spurs and went 6/10 from deep. In just two days, Moody more than doubled his three-point total on the season. From the Houston game and on, Moody put up 6.8 points per contest with 48/46/76 shooting splits in a little over 15 minutes a game. If you want to nitpick, Moody only had 5 games in his final 24 games of the season where he made more than one shot from deep and two of those games were load-management games for the Warriors’ veteran core.
In March as Draymond Green approached his return from injury, Moses Moody played consistent rotation minutes at the expense of Damion Lee and it seemed that he had staked out a fixed spot in Steve Kerr’s rotation. But on the same night that Marcus Smart dove into and injured Steph Curry’s leg, Moses Moody came out of the game with a shoulder stinger and this minor injury derailed his momentum. Moody only missed one game with the shoulder stinger, but in Curry’s absence, the Warriors flailed and Kerr turned to his veterans in an attempt to stabilize the team’s play in the final stretch before the playoffs.
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