Six questions facing Warriors following the All-Star break
Gearing up for another playoff run
They are not, according to general manager Bob Myers, actively exploring the trade market. Nor should they be.
They are not, according to players and coaches, a fully galvanized unit. That’s still weeks away
So where, exactly, are the Warriors after 56 games?
We take a look at six issues/questions -- some manufactured and some of which have graced my timeline -- that hover over them as they embark on the final seven weeks of the season.
Should JaVale McGee replace Zaza Pachulia as the starting center?
McGee’s offensive numbers have been solid to outstanding all season and his defensive metrics are catching up, perhaps because he is receiving extended playing time since Pachulia sustained a strained rotator cuff on Jan. 29. JaVale has been good for the Warriors, and the additional minutes have been good for him.
It’s tempting, but it’s not the way to go -- and not just because Pachulia would be more of a misfit with the second unit.
McGee can be prone to fouling, and that tendency is not likely to change with starter minutes. Plus, he is at his best in specific situations, providing a boost of energy for maybe five or six minutes at a time. He can outplay most backup centers, and probably outrun all of them.
Is chemistry an issue?
This one cropped up early this season, in the wake of an ESPN story that dived into some of the very real instances that irritate. It resurfaced earlier this month, when Draymond Green and Kevin Durant yapped at each other loudly in front of 17,000 witnesses in Sacramento.
Indications are this is smoke without fire. Durant and Green were tight and are tight. They’ve hung out together many times since, including the day after their “blowup.”
Green’s high-strung nature is bound to make waves. It’s the fee paid to ride with him and his unique set of skills. He’s a grinder, and grinders can irritate. The Warriors accept that he is indispensible. So they live with it. It helps that they’re 47-9.
Should Stephen Curry get more chances to defend elite point guards?
Curry is not an elite defender, and never will be. There is a reason coach Steve Kerr sends Klay Thompson, four inches taller, toward top point guards.
There is, however, an upside to letting Curry face his counterpart. When Kerr tried this two seasons ago, Curry was engaged, which lit his considerable competitive fire. He led the league in steals last season and was fourth in 2014-15.
Curry this season is not as engaged. He’s 14th in steals (he was 13th in 2013-14). He takes more plays off, allowing his man to cut back door or otherwise sneak in for an easy bucket. Give Curry a chance. If he re-engages, it’s a win.
Can Kevin Durant and Curry enter the MVP race?
Through the three months of the season, this was a two-man race: Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook. The Rockets rebuilt on the fly and, with Harden as the catalyst, became a top-five team. The Thunder essentially gave Westbrook the keys, the car, the house to do with what he may.
The Rockets and Thunder have slipped, though, and now it’s a race. LeBron James is there, of course, and so is Kawhi Leonard. So, too, are the Warriors.
Durant is having his best season, which puts him close enough to feel Harden and Westbrook. Curry is picking up his pace; he’s now close enough to see the field. Durant and Curry are trailing, but the gap is narrowing and there still plenty of time.
Should the Warriors make a trade?
General manager Bob Myers says they’re in listen-only mode, and there is every reason to believe him. Word around the league is the same, that the Warriors are on the fishing boat but not anxious about getting a catch.
As tempting as it might be to chase another wing, it’s probably not worth it. They have the best record in the league. They’re No. 1 in scoring and No. 1 in defense.
Sit on what you have. David West and Pachulia will return very soon, so playing it cool is smart thing to do. And, hey, we’re approaching buyout season looms, at which time it might be right to strike.
Is there reason to fear a first-round matchup with the New Pelicans?
No. Adding DeMarcus Cousins makes New Orleans more imposing but not necessarily better. Who can begin to know how Cousins will fit in with a new team -- and one with sudden expectations.
Besides, the first round is 51 days away, plenty of time for madness in the standings.