Warriors continue to thrive in their second calling

Warriors continue to thrive in their second calling

Programming note: Warriors-76ers coverage starts today at 3pm with Warriors Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

Credit must be given to the Golden State Warriors for keeping the brand alive on multiple platforms – to the point where they are now indirectly and barely tangentially linked to the Great Oscars Envelope Piefight.

Stay with us here. We’ll get to it.

The mundane matter of winning has, as expected, taken care of itself. They’ve clinched a playoff berth earlier than any other team, at least in the 16-team playoff era, they’ve hit their full stride with the Kevin Durant trade, they’re nervously navigating the Draymond Green Cavalcade of Technical Fouls, and they have led their supporters into the same old trap of thinking that regular season success is the same as postseason invulnerability.

In that way, they are much as they were a year ago, and the year before that.

But it is their underrated ability to find ancillary links to the world outside the NBA that makes them more than merely, say, the 1983 Fo’-Fo’-Fo’ 76ers.

Steve Kerr has been a political and social critic, and more than once – meaning that he hasn’t stumbled into discussions about the political state of the nation as much as he has leaped into them eyes wide open and feet fireproofed. He has not been tricked into a comment, ever. He says what he wants, and is in that way the management equivalent of . . .

. . . Green, who is more often than not the de facto team spokesman, Pushback Division, in that he will speak to anyone on any subject at any time. He is in many ways the Swiss Army Knife of sound bites, and when he decides to err on the side of volubility does not mind taking on opponents, strangers, his coach and, occasionally even teammates. He is a walking debate about temper management that is either 1 or 1-A to DeMarcus Cousins.

Durant and Russell Westbrook have, less voluntarily, been the subjects of a semi-philosophical debate about loyalty vs. business vs. opportunity vs. abandonment. Much of it has been driven not by them but by us, but we let go of cheap and easy narratives with the same willingness that Rottweilers demonstrate with a burglar’s femur.

JaVale McGee, the backup center, has just now engaged with some force with megabus/provocateur Shaquille O’Neal over O’Neal’s intermittent needling of McGee that finally hit the red, resulting in a unilateral cease-fire imposed by O’Neal’s mother Lucille that has not yet been agreed to by McGee’s mother Pamela. In other words, this is a family thing, with all the landmined dynamics that implies – a sure-fire talker both for those who like their debates either trivialized or broadened to take on larger social themes.

And the Oscars? Well, Best Supporting Actor Mahershala Ali is a self-admitted huge fan of The Bridge, having grown up in the area, played at Mount Eden High and Saint Mary’s on a ball scholarship, and now he is part of the best Oscars story that doesn’t involve movie junkies since Sacheen Littlefeather rejected Marlon Brando’s Oscar on his behalf. That the Warriors weren’t wearing black armbands Monday night in Philadelphia to protest the envelope screwup is a missed opportunity that only having Ali courtside amid Joe Lacob, Pete Guber, Phil Hellmuth and Beyonce for Game 2 against Denver in April can remedy.

In other words, cue the marketing department.

Next to all this, the arcane notion of the Warriors clinching a playoff spot and being on pace to having the largest margin between conference winner and ninth-place team since Boston (67-15) whipped Cleveland (29-53) in 1986 by a smooth 38 games means – well, next to nothing. Especially since we now know, or should know, that nothing happens until June says it happens.

And if the Warriors are the brand name they occasionally claim to be by being more than just a superb basketball team, they will remain abreast of all social and cultural trends, fitting them as best they can between the 21 remaining off-days as best they can.

It is apparently their second calling – to be small but available thermometers for any subject you’ve got, from the changing nature of basketball to the coming civil war to the death of the sun. It’s a good thing they’ve taken care of the playoff thing; otherwise, there’d be no getting them to maintain focus.

Quinn Cook states his case for spot on Warriors playoff roster

Quinn Cook states his case for spot on Warriors playoff roster

Because it’s only two games against two of the worst teams in the NBA, it’s prudent to resist the temptation to fall in love with Quinn Cook.

Putting up Stephen Curry numbers in consecutive games does not make one Stephen Curry.

It’s impossible, though, not to clearly understand why the Warriors have consistently expressed faith in Cook, the two-way point guard who has spent three years trying to make an NBA team.

Two fine games are enough, though, for the coaching staff to recommend adding him to the postseason roster. It’s wise to have a contingency in case Curry has to miss any of the games that matter most, and the Warriors are a smart bunch.

Cook on Saturday told reporters in Phoenix that the Warriors have not addressed the possibility of being on the postseason roster. That doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking about it.

“He’s proven that he can compete at this level,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters Saturday night in Phoenix. “The last couple games, you’re seeing what he can do. He’s a great shooter. We’ve known that."

Cook scored, on back-to-back nights, 25 and 28 points, shooting 70 percent (21-of-30) from the field, including 71.4 percent (10-of-14) from deep. That’s Curry-type quality when he’s on a roll. Cook also handled the ball well, recorded seven assists and was pesky enough on defense to nab five steals.

“Quinn is showing the world that he is an NBA player,” Draymond Green said.

Cook’s 10 3-pointers over the past two games are more than anybody not named Curry, Durant or Thompson have drained over a similar stretch -- and only Nick Young among the team’s reserves have made more over any single month.

The Warriors, it just so happens, are dead last in 3-pointers made by reserves, averaging 2.0 per game, with Young accounting for 1.5 per game.

Cook is showing he might be able to help with this.

Kerr loves 3-point shooters. General manager Bob Myers is fond of saying he can never have too many shooters.

The Warriors are discovering they can’t have too many capable point guards, particularly when Cook is proving that he, like Curry, also is comfortable playing off the ball. Pairing Cook with Shaun Livingston, the primary backup to Curry, is a nice option to have.

“I’ve said all along,” Green said. “I sit here and watch so many other teams play and I wonder, ‘How is Quinn Cook a two-way player?' And then you’ve got guys in the league that can’t dribble with their left hand, or can’t go left, can’t go right, but you’ve got a guy like that as a two-way player.

“So I’m happy for him. I pray that he gets rewarded and gets what he deserves.”

Cook had brief trial runs with the Pelicans, as a rookie, and the Mavericks last season. He played a total of 14 games with the two teams. He has played 21 with the Warriors, seven as a starter, but only in the last two has he looked entirely comfortable in his role and with these teammates.

With Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Curry out, the Warriors need Cook to score. He knows he needs to score. He is scoring. And doing a few other things, too.

“Playing in the NBA is something that I’ve dreamed of my whole life,” Cook said after his 28-point performance in a win over the Suns. “I can’t really put it into words, just being able to put on an NBA jersey night in and night out, practice with an NBA team every day, has been my goal since I can remember. I’m just trying to get better every day and live in the moment. I’m just trying to win games. I’m trying to help out as much as possible, whether it’s getting guys shots, playing defense, shooting the ball.

“Lately the ball’s been going in a little bit. But with three All-Stars out, I’ve got to step up. I’m just taking it game by game and competing night in and night out.”

Sometime early next month, if not late this month, the Warriors expect to have their starting backcourt. Curry and Thompson will have returned before the playoffs begin April 14-15, and both will need to be available if for reasonable chance to repeat as champs.

But Cook is making his case for inclusion. He’ll get another test Monday night in San Antonio, where Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is sure to throw at Cook a few wrinkles he may not have seen, but the Warriors have seen enough to know he can help.

“He’s a good fit for us, too,” Kerr said. “It’s not just his ability. It’s his maturity. He’s very professional, does whatever is asked, the guys love him. They want to go to war with him.

“He’s a guy. He’s an NBA guy. We’re lucky to have him.”

That’s not an demand, or even a preference. To add Cook to the roster, the Warriors would have to shed one of their 15 players currently on a standard NBA contract.

But somewhere among Kerr’s words, I believe I see an endorsement.

Warriors need vets to bounce back against young Suns


Warriors need vets to bounce back against young Suns

The Warriors have lost three of their last four games, their roster is in shambles and, still, they look like pure gold in contrast to the Suns team they’re facing Saturday night in Phoenix.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 6 o’clock, with tipoff scheduled for 7:05.

Reeling from the absences of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, the Warriors (52-17) showed plenty of the scrap in losing to the Kings on Friday in Oakland but couldn’t get much offense from their veterans.

The Suns (19-51) are having the worst season since 1968-69, their inaugural season. They’ve lost seven in a row, 16 of their last 17 and 21 of their last 23.


Warriors by 3


Quinn Cook vs. Elfrid Payton: Payton bolted to a 16-point first quarter and scored 29 the last time he faced the Warriors. Quinn is coming off a career-high 25-point game. With teams relying on diminished rosters, whichever of the two young PGs can set a tone gives his team an advantage.


Warriors: G Omri Casspi (R ankle sprain), G Stephen Curry (R ankle tweak), F Kevin Durant (R rib soreness), G Pat McCaw (L wrist fracture) and G Klay Thompson (R thumb fracture) are listed as out.

Suns: G Devin Booker (R hand sprain) and F Alan Williams (R meniscus tear) are listed as questionable. G Brandon Knight (L ACL tear) is listed as out.


Warriors: 7-3.

Suns: 1-9.


Tony Brothers (crew chief), Jacyn Goble, James Williams


The Warriors won the first of four meetings this season, 129-83 on Feb. 12 at Oracle Arena. They swept all four games last season and are 12-1 against the Suns in the Steve Kerr era.


MOTIVATED VETS: Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Zaza Pachulia, David West and Nick Young, expected to generate offense, combined to shoot 19-of-59 (32.2 percent) in a five-point loss Friday. They must be better; they can’t be much worse. Phoenix leads the NBA in points allowed.

THE BIG MEN: JaVale McGee started nine straight games at center, but Pachulia started the last two. The Suns are long up front, so McGee could be in line for a start or more minutes. In addition, Damian Jones, the team’s other 7-footer, also could get playing time.

STREAKING WITH THREES: The Suns own the longest active streak of games with at least one 3-point make (1,128). The Warriors are No. 2 (1,121). Both streaks are endangered. Curry, Thompson and Durant are out for the Warriors. Booker will either sit out or play with a splint on his shooting hand.