Intrigue, concern for Warriors in 2012-13


Intrigue, concern for Warriors in 2012-13

The Warriors might make another move or two this offseason,but it seems clear the core of their team is in place.Theyll have Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in theirbackcourt, with Jarrett Jack likely coming off the bench. Harrison Barnes orRichard Jefferson is expected to start at small forward, and the four-fivecombination should be David Lee-Andrew Bogut.The Warriors will expect a little something from second-yearguard Charles Jenkins and rookies Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green.The Warriors still hope to re-sign Brandon Rush and add abig man off the bench, but the team is not expected to dramatically changebefore October training camp.Well what do you think? Keeping things very broad at thispoint, thats a roster that is both intriguing and concerning. Yes, its stillonly July, but its not too early to start talking about the 2012-13season.THE INTRIGUEThe Warriors roster is different from virtually every otherroster in the league in one, specific way: The best passers and decision-makerson the team are in the frontcourt. Andrew Bogut and David Lee are both terrificpassers when you compare them to other big man.Other four-five tandems may be better in other areas, butwhen it comes to passing, know-how, and a little cleverness in delivering theball, Lee and Bogut have the potential to be the best passing frontcourt in theleague.Thats good, in and of itself. But it should be even moreadvantageous given the Warriors backcourt of Curry and Thompson. Those twoexcel at shooting the basketball from the perimeter and coming off screens. Ditto for rookie Harrison Barnes, who should get plenty ofplaying time in his first season.If theres been a knock on Curry early in his career itsthat hes not a true point guard and running a team doesnt come naturally. Atthe same time, Curry is a dynamic shooter, and with his feet set among the bestin the NBA.So, why not take the ball out of his hands a little more andput it into the hands of the frontcourt players? In short, why wouldnt thisteam try to emulate Sacramentos style in the earlymid-2000s, when they had VladeDivac and Chris Webber delivering the ball to Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic,etc?Thinking about the Warriors offense that way makes it easyto look forward to the 2012-13 season.THE CONCERNTheres a fine line between bad luck with injuries and beingplain-old injury prone. This is a big year for Bogut and Curry, likely definingwhich side of that line theyll be on in their careers.Bogut is going on four seasons now of being banged-up andmissing too many games. Yes, a couple of them were of the strange variety, butthat doesnt matter anymore and it certainly doesnt matter for theWarriors.Its all about this year for him and them.For the Warriors to be successful, Bogut has to play a fullseason or pretty close to it. Hes too important to this team on both ends ofthe floor for the Warriors to win consistently without him. Ditto for Curry,though not to the same degree.And the reason its not to the same degree isnt becauseCurry is less important, but because hes got a very good point guard in Jackbacking him up.Simply by being on the floor, though, Curry makes theWarriors better. His flaws have been documented, but hes such an elite shooterthat he always must be accounted for.Can Curry make it through a full season? Who can say forsure after seeing him tweak and re-tweak his right ankle during the 2011-12season?Acquiring Jack helps a lot because it means that if Currygets hurt the season doesnt need to be lost. Golden State can progress and besuccessful with Jack.But lets be clear: The Warriors cannot reach theirpotential as a team unless Curry is healthy. And speaking of Jack, hes notwithout his own health issues. Jack quietly missed 21 games last year (almost athird of the lockout season), including the last 13 with a stress fracture inhis right foot.Can Thompson get through a Year No. 2 in which hes going toplay more games and more minutes?

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'


Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

Warriors rookie Jordan Bell made an instant impact for the team this season. But as of late, his playing time has dwindled. In four of the Warriors' last five games, Bell has been inactive. 

“It's just the life of a rookie,” Bell said to The Athletic. “That's what Steve Kerr always tells me. It's not because I'm playing bad. Just gotta be professional about it and stay ready. It's like being a freshman all over again.”

While Bell wants to be on the court with his teammates, what he appreciates most from Steve Kerr is his communication. Kerr is always honest about when he won't play Bell and he keeps the former Oregon Duck encouraged. 

“He talks to me about it every time he sees me,” Bell said. “Lets me know I'm not going to be active. Keep doing what you're doing, you're doing good. But it still f------ sucks. You're playing well and it doesn't mean anything because you're younger. It sucks, but you got to be professional about it.”

Bell has played in 12 of the Warriors' 18 games this season. The 22-year-old is averaging 3.2 points and 2.2 rebounds per game over 8.3 minutes per game. 

The Warriors bought the 38th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft from the Chicago Bulls and selected Bell. On Friday night, the Warriors, and perhaps Bell, play the Bulls for the first time this season. 

One thing is pretty clear about these Warriors after 2-2 road trip

One thing is pretty clear about these Warriors after 2-2 road trip

The Warriors are not ready to flip their seek-and-destroy switch. Not yet.

They’re closer to being ready than, say, their longtime rivals in Cleveland, but in going 2-2 on this four-game road trip the Warriors showed they are nowhere near full annihilation mode.

They went into Oklahoma City Wednesday night and, in gulping down a 108-91 loss on national TV, came away looking more vulnerable than they have in any game this season. The 17-point loss was their largest margin of defeat and this was awful close to being a wire-to-wire rout.

The Warriors defense, so splendid during the seven-game win streak they took out of town last week, was inconsistent throughout and downright atrocious by their standards as they concluded the trip.

Their offense, which had begun reducing the turnovers to acceptable levels, came apart like a pair of $3 sneakers.

Even their body language, aside from two well-deserved technical fouls, seemed to mostly vacillate between whispers and a whimpers.

“We didn’t have any focus or concentration,” coach Steve Kerr said. “The ‘millennials’ couldn’t lock in tonight. And their coach couldn’t do much either. Long night for us.”

These were not the Warriors who posted seven consecutive double-digit wins, and they’re certainly not the team that found its competitive blowtorches last April. They weren’t visible in this game, nor were they seen for most of this road trip.

This, ahem, regular-season road trip.

That’s the catch. Last April is when the playoffs got underway, and next April is when the 2018 playoffs begin. The time between now and then is for experimenting, fine-tuning and fighting through the monotonous joys of victory -- a factor on vivid display Wednesday night.

“We played with some decent energy,” Stephen Curry said. “We just didn’t play smart.”

“They completely outplayed us, outcoached us,” Kerr said. “It was just their night. It was absolutely their night. They brought the energy, they brought the juice, they brought the intelligence. And we didn’t bring any of that.”

The Warriors entered the game after studying video and stats that illustrated OKC’s ability to disrupt an offense. The Thunder leads the NBA in steals, deflections and -- this one punches the Warriors in the gut -- forcing turnovers.

The Warriors committed 22 giveaways, leading directly to 34 Thunder points.

“Thirty-four points off turnovers, you can’t win like that,” Draymond Green said.

“I’ve got to do a better job of getting them ready to play,” Kerr said. “We have a pretty loose, fun atmosphere around here. That’s great, but there are certain times where it’s like, ‘All right guys. Let’s throw it to our team. Let’s execute the play. Let’s remember the play.’ ”

Kevin Durant bemoaned the “silly turnovers” that were such a factor in the game, blaming it players rather than Kerr and his staff.

“For the most part he can’t control that type of stuff,” said Durant, whose four turnovers were second to Curry’s team-high six. “We’ve got to be better at keeping the ball in our hands, shooting more shots than our opponents and playing defense.”

Added Green: “We were pretty well-prepared. We just played bad.”

That happens to even the best of teams, a category in which the defending champions fit quite snugly. No team, not even the Chicago Bulls of the maniacally competitive Michael Jordan, is able to bring its best for 82 games a season.

The Warriors blew two 17-point leads, one in second quarter and another in the third, in losing at Boston.

They fell behind by 24 in the third quarter to the 76ers before coming back to win in Philadelphia before recovering the next night to submit their best performance of the trip in routing Brooklyn.

And in OKC, against a Thunder team that would seem to get their full attention, the Warriors were outhustled, outsmarted and played with considerably less fury.

“Right now, we’re just in a little bit of rut, where we’ve got to focus,” Kerr said. “And I know we will. We’ve done this many times in the past and bounced back. And we’ll bounce back. We need to lock in and tighten up everything.”

They will, eventually. It could happen next week, or next month, or after the calendar turns to 2018. They’ll turn it on and become the team of terror, punishing all before them. It might be April, though.

This road game indicated some truth, though, which is there will be games over the next four months in which they will lose the battle with themselves.