Warriors’ Chris Paul expected to miss 4-6 weeks after hand surgery

Warriors point guard Chris Paul is expected to miss four-to-six weeks after he undergoes surgery to repair a left-hand fracture, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.Chris Paul

The Warriors defeated the Detroit Pistons 113-109 on Friday leaving the game with 6:07 left in the third quarter. Ensuing a missed 3-point attempt, the incident occurred when Paul went to follow his shot. But in the process of trying to grab the loose ball, he awkwardly collided with Pistons’ guard Jaden Ivey. Thereupon, Paul instantly grabbed for his left hand, grimacing in pain, as he walked off the court and headed towards the locker room. 

Unfortunately, this sort of ailment is nothing new to Paul, who has now had to endure 11 hand injuries throughout his 19-year career. After getting the diagnosis that he suffered a fracture to his left hand, the team announced Paul would have to undergo what would be his fifth surgery on his wrist/hand.

“That’s tough, I feel so bad for Chris. I know he’s had a couple of hand surgeries before, I believe, maybe on the other hand,” coach Steve Kerr said. “I saw him holding it and instantly was worried. Just got the word after walking off the floor. So I feel terrible for Chris.”

At 38 years old, Paul is averaging 8.9 points and 7.2 assists in 27.7 minutes per game, which are actually all close to career lows for the future Hall of Famer. Nevertheless, the team will certainly miss Paul as a leader and game manager, with attention to his playmaking ability. To put into perspective, when the 12x All-Star is off the floor, the team’s turnover percentage drops three percentage points to 16.2%, and this just so happens to be the worst in the entire league. That is to say, Paul currently has the second-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the NBA this season at 6.1, only trailing the Wizards’ Tyus Jones who has a 6.8 assist-to-turnover ratio.

The team will have to adjust to this setback, given that they are still dealing with the absence of Draymond Green, who has served as the team’s facilitator throughout their many championship runs. Because of this, Kerr has actually promoted Paul to the starting lineup, in each of the last four games, to create opportunities for Stephen Curry to get open playing off the ball. 

“He’s such a cerebral player,” Curry said. “He knows how to manage the game, getting us organized. We had a stretch where we had some tough starts. This is obviously because Draymond is out and how different we look as a team trying to run our system. CP is a great addition to that flow.”

Notably, the team’s rotations have been mixed up quite a bit this year, as even in the last game Kerr was under scrutiny for his lineup management, when the Nuggets had a late-game comeback win over the Warriors. In regards to this, according to sources, Warriors’ player Jonathan Kuminga had apparently “lost faith in Steve Kerr” and no longer believed he could reach his full potential, pointing out, that he was benched for the final 18 minutes of Thursday night’s loss, after going 5-for-7 from the field and scoring 16 points halfway through the game.

In a press conference, Kerr was asked about managing player roles and minutes, “I played for 15 years,” Kerr said. “And all 15 years I was frustrated with my playing time. This is how it works.” Ultimately though, Kuminga’s voice must have been heard loud and clear, as he played a team-high 36 minutes in Friday night’s win over the Pistons.

Now that the Warriors have to deal with the absence of Paul, role players such as  Kuminga, Brandin Podziemski, Cory Joseph, and Moses Moody will all see increased minutes, especially considering, the team’s backcourt also came down with another injury this week, as guard Gary Payton II is out indefinitely after suffering a left hamstring strain in Tuesday’s game versus the Magic. 

Keeping in mind, as already mentioned, the Warriors have been playing without their anchor, Green, who is still out after being indefinitely suspended, but on the bright side, reports just came out that he is set to be back with the team on Sunday, for the first time since the middle of December.

All in all, Kerr remains confident in the team’s ability to overcome yet another loss in Paul, “Obviously, guys will step up and be ready to play. We’ve got to hold down the fort without him.” 

There is currently no recovery timeline for the veteran floor general, as more updates will follow soon. With this in mind, rookie Podziemski may get extra minutes at point guard, with the opportunity to build on an already impressive rookie campaign, as the combo guard is averaging 9.3 points (47.7 FG%, 44.1 3P%), 5.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists in 23.6 minutes per game this season.

The Warriors will hope to stay afloat, as they are currently 10th in the Western Conference standings with a 17-18 record. Looking ahead, Golden State will finish off their long homestead, when they host the Raptors on January 7 and Pelicans on January 10, before starting a four-game road trip.

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