Image courtesy of Sporting News
Prior to signing an Exhibit 10 contract with the Golden State Warriors, guard Tyler Ulis was receiving interest from the Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings. The deal is for one year at the minimum and eligible to be converted into a two-way contract with their G-League affiliate. The Phoenix Suns let him walk this offseason after not picking up his $1.5 million dollar option much to the chagrin of their star Devin Booker, who undoubtedly is his best friend. Is it possible that Booker was upset enough to punch something that he broke his hand as Bill Simmons speculated on his pod? Ah, don’t count on it.
Ulis signing with half the other teams out there isn’t even a blip on the radar. With the Warriors, I’m shaking the shit out of a magic eight-ball asking what doom does this mean for the rest of the league. Note that with the Rockets were competing for his services, Ulis had two of the headier front offices in the league after him and the Kings with their best decision in years to copy both. He must have value.
Ulis has been a disappointing three-point marksman in his first two years in the league, hitting only 28% of his attempts. His outside shooting percentages have dropped in each of his second seasons with Kentucky and Phoenix, both coinciding with an increase in role. Is Ulis just getting tired? At 5’10 and 150 lbs., he does not have much on him to withstand the grind of an NBA regular season. Isaiah Thomas is a frequent comparison but he still has 35 lbs. on Ulis. It is possible he’ll be saved by a smaller role on the bench with the Warriors after being forced into the starting lineup by injuries with the Suns.
Ulis would be served by taking more catch and shoot threes as opposed to off the dribble ones he has been apt to do. That could have been a product of the Suns’ offense having young players and too many broken plays. Though noted for his scoring prowess and shooting at Kentucky, Ulis is a better creator at this juncture of his career.
Coach Kerr likes to keep at least one to two starters on the court with the bench instead of hockey lineup switches. If Shaun Livingston and/or Andre Iguodala are washed during the regular season or ‘waiting’ for the playoffs to step up, they’ll need someone from the bench to initiate offense. Both have seen their last days defending the point of attack and should be lining up against opposing wings, opening up minutes at the guard spot.
Quinn Cook is a better fit with the starters due to his familiarity with the system, superior size, and more accurate shot. That will be Ulis’ main competition for minutes since the Warriors would be too deficient defensively to play both for long stretches.
When he does see the floor, the Warriors will be able to hide him on defense with Draymond Green on the back end and Klay Thompson taking the stronger perimeter threat. The Warriors play intelligent defense, they’ll find interesting ways to hide him and double off non-shooters when Ulis is trapped in the post. Stops that do occur will lead to a deadly fast break game as Ulis is the fastest Warrior since Leandro Barbosa left town.
Rajon Rondo was a much more effective defender in front of Anthony Davis and Kevin Garnett because his botched gambles frequently ended as blocks on the stat sheet compared to guaranteed points in the paint with Dirk Nowitzki or Jared Sullinger as the back line. Could Green have a similar effect on Ulis making him into a passable defender? I tend to think so, Ulis is a solid ball thief and him dying on any and every pick is less of an issue when the defender stepping up on the switch is Green, Thompson, Jordan Bell, or Kevin Durant opposed to it being Booker, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, or TJ Warren.
If Ulis doesn’t make it out of camp, I’ll check myself in to Hot Take rehab.