With Alfonzo McKinnie taking the league by storm, including fourth quarter minutes with the stars, can he be the last player in the death lineup for the Golden State Warriors?
Alfonzo McKinnie and his legend keeps growing, with every hustle play, three-point shot and skying for offensive rebounds. Along with it, his role with a once-in-a-generation type team keeps increasing.
Late in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves last Friday, McKinnie found himself sharing the floor with the four stars, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. The former Eastern Illinois and Wisconsin-Green Bay product did what he always did: stay poised. He launched a corner three with no hesitation off a pass from Durant. The former training camp invitee grabbed rebounds and battled on the offensive glass with his pogo-stick hops.
Here is a video of the hustle, energy, defense and scoring McKinnie provided down the stretch against the Timberwolves.
In a small sample size of minutes, McKinnie playing with the four stars has a plus-minus of plus-4.3, which is good for the third-best plus-minus out of all the lineups Steve Kerr has put out on the floor, per NBA.com. The second-highest plus-minus lineup for the Golden State Warriors includes McKinnie as well as Jordan Bell in the Green role, with Curry, Durant and Thompson at a plus-5.0.
With his solid minutes in a tight game playing with the All-Stars, this stirs up a possible question: Can Alfonzo McKinnie play the “Andre Iguodala” role in the Death Lineup?
Now, this would not mean that McKinnie would replace Iguodala for good in this vaunted lineup, but more of, as a substitute when the former NBA Finals MVP is feeling body soreness or he is not playing up to the level that he is capable of playing.
It would provide benefits for both players. For Alfonzo McKinnie, it would give him more experience playing with the four stars and help him develop into a better player on the offensive and defensive end. The experience of playing with some of the best players in the world for McKinnie will give him more confidence in his abilities, especially when the calendar flips to April.
Now, for Iguodala, if McKinnie gets plugged into the Death Lineup, it will provide him the most beneficial thing for his 34-year-old body: rest. The more rest Iguodala can get during the regular season will help the Warriors immensely as they try to chase a third consecutive NBA championship and McKinnie can help give Iguodala the recharge he needs for the postseason.
McKinnie, in some ways, is a similar player to Iguodala. The former training camp invitee has athletic ability that mirrors Iguodala’s with the jump-out-of-the-gym hops, good strength and quickness. However, McKinnie has more of a knack to crash the offensive glass and thus far, is shooting an exceptional percentage from the three-point line at 60.0 percent. Although McKinnie is not the level of defender that Iguodala is, he has shown flashes of defensive potential, including switching and staying with bigger and smaller players, contesting shots, getting hands in the passing lanes and providing necessary help defense.
As mentioned earlier, Iguodala is 34-years-old, which does not seem really, really old in basketball years, but he has put a lot of mileage on his legs and a substitution for McKinnie in the Death Lineup more often than not during the regular season with younger, fresher legs could prove to be beneficial to the Golden State Warriors.
Iguodala’s contract will be up at the end of the 2019-20 season, but it’s never too early to search for an heir apparent for his services and McKinnie fits that athletic wing mold. McKinnie has a two-year non-guaranteed minimum deal for this season and next season, per Spotrac.
Alfonzo McKinnie was thrust into crunch-time minutes against the Minnesota Timberwolves, subbed in for Iguodala, and was switching on defense, got a huge rebound and hit a clutch corner three. It provided a possible glimpse into the future with McKinnie receiving crucial fourth quarter minutes and Iguodala watching his potential heir from the sidelines, as was previously mentioned.