Rebooted Warriors in trial-and-error phase


Rebooted Warriors in trial-and-error phase

OAKLAND – Though there is no reason whatsoever for panic, and only moderate cause for alarm, it’s entirely reasonable after one very public beating to downsize expectations for the Warriors.

Assuming, that is, those expectations were 70-plus wins, homecourt advantage throughout the postseason and a sweep in the NBA Finals.

The Warriors are not a perfect team, not even close, certainly not now, and on opening night the Spurs were smart enough and good enough to seize upon their flaws. The rotations are unsettled. They lack a big presence in the paint, are without instant offense off the bench and can’t begin to approach their peak without a fully engaged, mentally and emotionally tough Draymond Green.

The Spurs owned the paint, won the bench battle and Green sandwiched a decent game around a momentum-killing technical foul.

Yet talent almost always is the ticket to success in the NBA. Talent combined with chemistry generally ensures a ride to the top.

Rarely, though, is a dramatically rebooted team an instant champion. There are rare exceptions, most recently the 2007-08 Celtics, who won a title immediately after adding Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to a core of Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo.

Generally, the process of growing a champion requires trial and error, which create moments of distress and disappointment.

When LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in South Beach in 2010, the Miami Heat spent the first month losing about as often as they won, prompting speculation about coach Erik Spoelstra being overmatched with his new toys.

It took 18 games of experimentation and practice and defeat before they began matching the talent with court chemistry – and, still, the Heat did not win it all until the following season.

Before Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant won three consecutive championships with the Lakers, they went through a procession of coaches who presided over three straight postseason flameouts.

Not until their fourth season as teammates, and following the hiring of Phil Jackson as coach, did Shaq and Kobe spray championship champagne.

So it’s unrealistic to expect even a team with Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and Green to come out in October and dominate the league. Not while three of the team’s top eight players – Zaza Pachulia, David West and Durant – are still trying to grasp the basics at both ends.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is the best in the league, and he made sure of two things. For one, anytime the Warriors flashed the slightest spark, he signaled for a timeout to avoid a run that could energize the Warriors and the Oracle Arena crowd. Two, he leaned heavily on those familiar with his system.

The damage was done by the likes of Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge – who in his second season with the Spurs looks much more comfortable – Patty Mills and Jonathan Simmons.

Popovich’s big-name offseason signing, Pau Gasol, played 18 ineffective minutes.

“That’s probably the worst team to play on an opening night when you’re trying to figure out who you are,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “The continuity that they have is really impressive. Even though we’ve got a lot of guys returning, KD is a huge cog in what we’re doing. And so are Zaza and David.

“It just felt foreign. It felt like this is different. We know it’s going to be different. We’ve got to react accordingly.”

The Warriors have plenty of talent, too much to be anything less than the favorite to win it all. They have enough to overcome most, of not all, of their imperfections.

Regardless of the materials, chemistry doesn’t come from a microwave. It requires lab work to develop. It requires failure, and the Warriors had an epic fail in their season debut.

“We need this time to come together and grow. History shows that,” Kerr said. “Teams every year that come together have to grow, have to figure some things out and try to get better.

“Last year, we were probably at our best the first month of the season. We were better the first month of the season than we were the last. We’ll flip that this year.”

The potential of the Warriors, win or lose, will be debated on an almost nightly basis. The one thing that can’t be debated is that they’ll never be worse than they are at the start. And right now, that’s exactly where they are.

It's official -- Steph Curry will return vs Hawks, Dennis Schroder awaits him


It's official -- Steph Curry will return vs Hawks, Dennis Schroder awaits him

OAKLAND -- At a time when the Warriors could use a boost, they’ll get Friday night when Stephen Curry rejoins the lineup as they face the Atlanta Hawks.

The Warriors (53-18) have been shorthanded for two weeks, and still they’ll be without three of their four All-Stars. Curry’s return after a six-game absence, however, will send a jolt of energy through the team and the crowd at Oracle Arena.

The Hawks (21-51), in full rebuild mode, have lost 10 of 13 since the All-Star break, including a 105-90 loss to the Kings on Thursday night in Sacramento before the lightest NBA crowd of the season due to protests in the wake of a police shooting.


Warriors by 9


Stephen Curry vs. Dennis Schroder: Under normal circumstances, this is worthy of attention, but it’s particularly intriguing with Curry making his return. Schroder, who rested Thursday night, is a defensive pest, the type of player whose presence lights a fire under opponents. Not that Curry needs it. He’s downright anxious to get back on the court.


Warriors: F Omri Casspi (R ankle sprain) is listed as questionable. F Kevin Durant (R rib cartilage injury), F Draymond Green (pelvic contusion) and G Klay Thompson (R thumb fracture) are listed as out.

Hawks: G Kent Bazemore (R knee bone bruise), F De’Andre Bembry (abdominal strain), G Antonious Cleveland (L ankle surgery rehab), F/C John Collins (L ankle sprain), G Malcolm Delaney (L ankle sprain) and G Jaylen Morris (L ankle sprain) are listed as out.


Warriors: 6-4. Hawks: 2-8.


Sean Wright (crew chief), Kevin Cutler, Rodney Mott


The Warriors prevailed in the first of two meetings this season, 114-109 on March 2 in Atlanta. They swept the two-game series last season and are 6-1 against the Hawks in the Steve Kerr era.


DEFENSIVE INTENSITY: Green’s absence robs the Warriors of their best defender and emotional leader. How do they compensate? That’s going to be tough. Expect Jordan Bell (who will start) and Kevon Looney to handle most of the minutes at PF. They’re capable and willing defenders, but neither has Green’s savvy.

THE GIFTS: Though the Warriors, even without a full roster, are much the better team, those circumstances have guaranteed nothing this season. They have a tendency to keep games close by committing costly turnovers. The Hawks are second in forcing turnovers (15.5 per game) and third in points off turnovers (18.2).

THE GUARDS: Curry’s return gives the Warriors a fourth guard, with three PGs (Quinn Cook, Shaun Livingston, Curry) and SG Nick Young. Because Curry and Quinn Cook are capable of playing off the ball, there will be several variations. Any two can be paired as a duo. The coaching staff gets to satisfy its desire to experiment.

Former agent Christian Dawkins to blame? Jordan Bell knows 'exactly what happened'


Former agent Christian Dawkins to blame? Jordan Bell knows 'exactly what happened'

So here's a story for you:

At 9:25pm on April 16, 2017, The Vertical's Shams Charania sent out the following tweet:

This angered Jordan Bell, who soon thereafter tweeted twice:

So what actually went down? It turns out that former agent Christian Dawkins -- who is a key figure in the FBI's investigation into corruption in college basketball -- may have been responsible.

Bell explained everything to Logan Murdock on the Planet Dubs Podcast.

"I was mad ... I know exactly what happened. One of the agents I met with -- the one who got in trouble. What's his name? Dawkins or whatever. Something like that. When I met with him, he was throwing me shade -- he acted like he didn't know who I was. 

"We had dinner and he's on his phone like not really paying me attention. I'm like, 'Why am I meeting with you?  You're wasting my time.' ... I kid you not, he didn't read over his (research). It had all of the top power forwards, big guys in the draft. And he was like, 'Let's just look at this.'

"And he's looking at it, and he was like, 'Oh! You're Top 3 in everything!' And he started getting excited and I was like, 'I'm cool. I'm done with this meeting.'"

Bell then explained how one of his coaches at Oregon tried to teach Bell a lesson.

The coach wanted Bell to "be a man" and contact all of the agents that he was for sure not going to sign with to let them know.

Bell didn't want to do that because he wanted to announce he was declaring for the draft on his own terms, without any information potentially leaking to the media.

But the Warriors rookie took the coach's advice and texted Dawkins to say he was going in a different direction.

"And I kid you not, like an hour later, I get an (alert) -- I'm upstairs at my coach's house -- 'I hear Jordan Bell declares for (the draft)' and I just started screaming...

"... I feel like I have to go (to the NBA) now ... when that happened, I was like, 'I really want to go back now just to prove him wrong, just to make him lose all credibility."

Bell quickly came to his senses, and at 10am on April 18, 2017, he retweeted the following message:

Interestingly -- the last line of The Vertical's story that broke the news regarding Bell reads:

Bell is projected to be the No. 38 overall pick in The Vertical’s latest mock draft by Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.

The Warriors paid the Bulls $3.5 million for the rights to Bell at... No. 38 overall.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller