Warriors

Warriors focus: Carl Landry

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Warriors focus: Carl Landry

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final installment in a seven-part series that spotlights the seven new Warriors.
Part 1: Harrison BarnesPart 2: Kent Bazemore
Part 3: Andrew Bogut
Part 4: Festus Ezeli
Part 5: Draymond Green
Part 6: Jarrett Jack

If you want to get picky, you could say that Carl Landry isnt really a perfect fit for the Warriors. After all, what the Warriors need most from their interior players particularly from their substitute big players is rebounding and defense.Those arent exactly the first two things you think of when you think about Landrys game.Nevertheless, its tough to criticize the signing of Landry. Darn near impossibly, frankly. Hes a proven scorer off the bench and a player known for his competitiveness. No, hes not a defensive stopper or a big-time rebounder, but what Landry does give the Warriors is quality depth at a position where they havent had much.Last season Warriors coach Mark Jackson had to use all sorts of players in the frontcourt, including Dominic McGuire, Mickell Gladness, Mikki Moore, Keith Benson and Earl Barron.So without a doubt Landry represents an upgrade from last season. Question is: Where do his minutes come from?David Lee figures to get the lions share of playing time at power forward. Lee has averaged 36 and 37 minutes per game, respectively, over the past two seasons with Golden State.That doesnt leave a whole lot of room for Landry, a player who has averaged 25 minutes per game, himself, during the course of his five-year career.It seems apparent that Landry will get a good portion of minutes when coach Mark Jackson elects to go with his small lineup. If theres one thing Jackson showed a season ago, its that hes not afraid to use Lee at center particularly late in games.A Landry-Lee frontcourt would certainly have some size deficiencies and defensive shortcomings, but that frontcourt could also be useful if the Warriors are trying to bring home a win down the stretch of a close game.Landry and Lee both have career free-throw percentages of .777. So when you consider Andrew Bogut is a 54.7 percent foul shooter for his career, you can see why Jackson might go small late in games.But there are other reasons for Landry and Lee to play together, and the most important is that by doing so the Warriors will limit Boguts minutes. With Bogut coming off season-ending ankle injury last season, it only makes sense to monitor his minutes closely in 2011-12.On top of that, there is instability at the backup five position with Andris Biedrins, whose game has gone missing in recent years, and Festus Ezeli, an unproven rookie.When Landry plays hell give the Warriors an aggressive scorer on the inside. Hes more of a scorer than a back-to-the-basket power forward, though he can do some damage in the right matchup down there.Landry does his best work from the mid-post area, where has developed a nice mid-range shot to go a long with a quick first step at least by power forward standards.The one thing Landry has done throughout his career is get to the foul line. Last season for the Hornets, Landry averaged 4.5 free throw attempts in just 24 minutes.That could come in handy when you consider that Landry will likely be playing a lot early in the second quarters of games assuming hes coming off the bench. If nothing else, Landrys assertiveness could serve to get the Warriors in the penalty more quickly than they have in the past.As for Landrys rebounding, its not that hes a bad rebounder, hes just not a great one call him average in that department. Landry averaged five rebounds per game last season in 24 minutes.Landry also isnt much of a shot-blocker, which means when he and Lee play together theyll have trouble protecting the rim.What Landry does bring to the table is a willingness to compete and someone whos going to play hard night it and night out. Because he gives the Warriors a different kind of dimension inside, its possible seeing him having a nice role.No, Landry isnt perfect. But its easy to see that he should make the Warriors better.

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

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AP

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.