Few would make the argument that Kevon Looney is a more talented player than James Wiseman. Whether evaluating in terms of physical tools, potential or production, Wiseman — a 7-foot, 244-pound teenager with a 7-6 wingspan, huge vertical leap and fluid shooting stroke — boasts a clear advantage over the injury-prone Looney.
But Warriors head coach Steve Kerr’s job is to win basketball games, and he believes that Looney’s sound decision-making and positional defense gives the team a better chance to open strong. After he heard speculation rattle around for weeks about potentially significant lineup changes, Kerr supplanted Wiseman in the starting unit with Looney on Monday night — a move that proved critical in the Warriors’ 130-108 win over the Timberwolves at Chase Center.
With Looney setting screens, rotating on defense and making the extra pass, Golden State had seized a 16-point lead midway through the first quarter by the time Wiseman sauntered to the scorer’s table to check in. It was a welcome sight for a team whose starting lineup entered Monday having been outscored by 73 points in 161 minutes together this season — by far the worst plus-minus of any high-usage lineup in the NBA.
Though the Warriors’ second unit allowed the Timberwolves to get back within striking distance, Golden State never trailed as it exorcised the memory of ugly recent losses to the Knicks and Jazz. The proverbial exclamation point came with less than six…