Warriors roster: Can Moses Moody be a three-and-D star?

Warriors roster: Can Moses Moody be a three-and-D star?

If you look around the league, you’ll notice a trend: almost every team in the NBA has a three-and-D specialist. They’ve been all the rage for the last decade, as nearly every team fills a roster spot or two with a wing who can play strong defense, and whose offensive role primarily consists of standing along the three-point line, catching and shooting when the opposing defense collapses.

I always think of prime Robert Covington as the Platonic ideal of the three-and-D wing, but there’s no shortage of examples to choose from.

Curiously, the Golden State Warriors haven’t had too many solid three-and-D specialists in a while. Otto Porter Jr. was an excellent option last year, and that’s kind of the only one in recent memory … Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson could be one, but they have too much offensive talent and too big of a seat at the offensive table to fit that role. Damion Lee has played the part a bit but, unfortunately, I think “no three-and-D” is probably a more apt descriptor.

Teams don’t need a three-and-D wing, as the Warriors earlier title teams were fairly devoid of them. But my goodness they sure help.

The Warriors enter the season as serving favorites to win the title, but there are questions as to whether or not they have a three-and-D specialist on their roster. You could make the case for offseason addition Donte DiVincenzothough he’ll likely slide into an offensive role that features more slashing, cutting, and getting out in transition than hanging around waiting for open threes.

Which leaves us with Moses Moody.

It’s entirely unclear what sort of role Moody will play in his second NBA season, but it is apparent that the Warriors have a fair amount of trust in him. That’s not to say that they’ll hand him minutes that he hasn’t earned, but you can be sure that they’re entering training camp with the expectation that he will, indeed, earn those minutes.

Moody started his rookie year shooting just 4-for-33 from beyond the arc. And then he shot 36-for-77 the rest of the way out, followed by a 7-for-13 performance in the playoffs. Anything approximating that second half performance and he’ll have the “three” part of “three-and-D” down pat, and then some.

If you read my player grades last season, you probably remember how frequently I praised Moody for simply existing without being noticeable. It’s rare that a rookie can take the court and not be noticed for doing things that are actively bad, but that’s what Moody did. Out of the 17 players suited up for the Dubs last year, Moody finished with the best turnover frequency, averaging just one for every 100 possessions. He had the sixth lowest rate of crowds.

That’s not standard procedure for a rookie. Jonathan Kuminga fouled nearly twice as often as Moody, and turned the ball over three times as often. That’s not a knock on Kuminga — that’s what’s expected.

Being able to play a game relatively devoid of errors is one of the defining characteristics of a good three-and-D wing. If you’re not trying to do too much, not stepping outside of your role, and not negating your good plays with meaningless mistakes, it allows both the “three” and the “D” to shine.

Speaking of which, Moody’s defense remains a little bit of a mystery. He showed excellent defensive instincts and discipline a year ago, though his lack of lateral quickness justifiably worried some. That may prevent him from ever being a lockdown defender, but he shouldn’t keep him from being a good one. He was making a solid defensive impact by the end of last season, so he certainly has something to build off of.

Moody looks like a lock to be a strong three-and-D option somewhere down the road, but there’s no guarantee that it happens this year. Still, with all the pieces so clearly on display, and a hole in the roster with his name on it, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

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