Kerith Burke

How Warriors are using current NBA season to prepare for the next one

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NBC Sports Bay Area

How Warriors are using current NBA season to prepare for the next one

Editor’s note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors reporter, will take you inside the Dubs as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #askkerith

Tip-Off

When visiting media come to town, they tend to have the same three questions:

1) What is it like going from the Finals to the basement?

2) How are the coaches and the veterans leading the team through this tough, injury-prone season?

3) Is this surreal for Steve Kerr specifically, given all the success he has known as a player and coach in his career?

The questions are repetitive, but Steve tackles them graciously. Here’s what he explained at the last game: “The point of the season for us is to develop our young players.” 

It’s possible to want to win and demand the best from yourself, while understanding the realities of what you’re facing. Yes, the Warriors want to flush certain results, but the season itself is not in the trash can. It means something for growth.

I can already hear the top question for next year: “How did the struggles in 2019-20 strengthen or recalibrate the team for another playoff run?

Game on!

Via IG, trey5fanpage says, Please talk about D’Angelo in the next mailbag. Looks like he’s a good teammate and has stood up for most of the games. Would love to know more about him if you can share! 

When D’Angelo Russell was injured, I kept an eye on him when I was around the bench.

I noticed during timeouts, he typically would offer a teammate some observations or pay attention to what a coach was saying. He’s engaged, and let’s be honest, doing that for every game -- especially when you’re injured -- is not easy. I wouldn’t fault anyone for a spacing out a little when they’re not playing. D’Angelo doesn’t space out. 

On the floor, I hear him talking. He brings energy and encouragement. 

I see him taking his time with the Warriors seriously. This is year one for him, and he’s a positive teammate. He wants to lead the team on the court, because they need him. He’s young at 23 years old, but he’s putting the responsibility on his shoulders because this team needs someone to be a consistent scorer or a “big moment” guy. 

He had a big moment bucket on Wednesday to send the Warriors and Knicks to overtime. 

@30crossesFC Will Draymond be cleared off his 27-minute restriction and more DNPs?
@JavyBaez_curry Why Draymond minutes under 30?

As things start to normalize for the players returning from injuries, the coaches will figure out what makes sense for Draymond’s minutes.

The Warriors want to win. Draymond is always a part of that effort. He played 39 minutes against the Knicks and notched a triple-double. 

The team also is smart about what this season is. Draymond typically will rest on back-to-backs. Steph and Klay are forced to rest because of their injuries, but Draymond played in the Finals for five consecutive years as they did. He needs rest, too. There’s no point in running him into the ground. 

The Warriors will be careful about preserving Draymond’s body and mind for things on the horizon. 

@FirmanWinardi Are we keep fighting for 8th spot? There are 60 games to play, being .500 team is good enough?

To be fair, this question came in after the Warriors beat the Bulls. The Warriors returned home feeling good with the Grizzles and Knicks next on the schedule -- two winnable games. The idea that the Dubs could build a little three-game winning streak as they got healthier was fun to think about.

That’s not what happened. The Dubs lost both games to fall to 5-21 on the season, the worst record in the NBA. 

To reach .500 with a total of 41 wins, the Warriors need to win 36 out of the remaining 56 games. That’s highly unlikely. 

@chauzer1234 What's the right etiquette for getting an autograph?

What a great question, and one I haven’t seen before! You can maximize your chances of getting an autograph by anticipating when and where it would be easiest for a player. 

At the game, go to the tunnel the players use to get on and off the court. They will not stop to sign anything as they come on the court for warmups. But they will sign as they come off the court and go to the locker room. This time is your best chance. 

Have a sharpie in your hand, uncapped, and the item you want to be signed easily accessible.

Players don’t sign things coming on or off the court at halftime. It's hard to predict if they’ll stop to sign something postgame. 

At team hotels, consider trying to catch a player when they’re coming back from practice or a game, instead of when they're getting on the bus to go to those things. 

The most important thing is: BE POLITE. 

Children have a better chance for autographs than adults. Do not push kids out of the way. If your kid is trying for an autograph, have them shout “Mr. Curry!” instead of “STEPH STEPH STEPH STEPH!!!!” Players aren’t used to “mister” and it makes them pause. They can cut through the noise this way. 

Remember to say thank you. 

@irenealcachupas When will Klay and Steph comeback??? We really miss the Splash Brothers!!!! #askKerith

Steve Kerr said at the beginning of the season it is unlikely Klay plays this season. Don’t plan on seeing him. 

Steph recently had some pins removed from his broken hand. Expect an update on his status in early February. 

I’m hearing some rumblings we might see Klay or Steph back on a game-day broadcast soon. Remember, Klay nailed his night as a reporter, and Steph joined NBC Sports Bay Area’s pregame and postgame shows. Shhhhh, we’ll see. 

Via IG, @pamg_fitness says, The Warriors played at Oracle for 47 years. Why didn’t they ever wear “Oakland” on their jerseys? I understand “The Town” signifies Oakland, but they were at Chase Center one week and wore San Francisco jerseys. The also have “The City” which signifies San Francisco. 

This team has never been known as the Oakland Warriors. But they were the San Francisco Warriors from 1961-1972. 

Some people are curious why the Warriors wore “San Francisco” on their chests this season, and whether that has anything to do with the move to the Chase Center. Nope. It’s simply a throwback jersey. The Golden State Warriors belong to the Bay Area, not one city.

High Five

This week’s High Five goes to Gary Payton for a great conversation on the Runnin’ Plays podcast. Find it here, or on Spotify or iTunes. 

Gary told me about his love for the 49ers, growing up in East Oakland and what his dad did to protect kids in the neighborhood, which point guards he enjoys watching today, why he believes it’s okay to “go there” if you’re trash-talking on the court -- yes, even someone’s mama is fair game -- and why he’ll do whatever it takes to bring an NBA team back to Seattle.

This podcast was a ride. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @warriorskerith, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors coverage all season. 

How Warriors' improving health will affect focus on player development

How Warriors' improving health will affect focus on player development

Editor’s note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors reporter, will take you inside the two-time defending NBA champions as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter using the hashtag #askkerith

Tip-Off

The Warriors’ last win came against the Bulls, a little more than a week ago. Tonight, the Warriors will have a chance to end their road trip with a win, or come home 0-5. 

The injuries are beginning to fade. The Warriors got D’Angelo Russell, Kevon Looney and Draymond Green back during this trip. Jacob Evans is a “maybe” to play tonight. Damian Lee is closer to returning as well. The issues that come with playing with eight guys will lessen, and give way to new things to learn -- chemistry with a fuller group, substitution patterns and who plays well next to whom.

Game On! 

@GJohnde What do you think about Omari's performance so far?

Omari Spellman has been excellent. He’s averaging 7.9 points and 5.7 rebounds in 18.6 minutes per game, but his attitude strikes me the most. 

His rookie season in Atlanta did not go well. Logan Murdock took a deep dive with Omari, if you haven’t read it already. It covers his struggles, how that manifested as over-eating and weight gain and how Omari got out of that headspace to reinvent himself with the Warriors. 

What I notice is the high level Omari finds in games. He hustles. He’s tough. He summons aggressiveness inside of himself. I get to see his face up close during games, and he looks like a raging bull, like steam would come out of his nostrils if that were possible. Teammates love to play alongside a guy like Omari. 

When the Warriors were in Atlanta, Steve Kerr mentioned the Dubs did a pre-draft workout with Omari and came away impressed. The Hawks scooped him up, but he’s been on the Warriors’ radar. It’s fun to see him shine on his new team. His upside is promising and we’re getting glimpses of it. 

@WillHar18196474 When Looney and Green both play, which of the remaining big men will likely sacrifice the most minutes?

I understand it’s a “sacrifice” to reduce minutes, but consider how nice it will be to have more bodies available to give guys a chance to catch their breath during games. You already know who has appeared on the injury report, but everyone is dealing with bumps and bruises as they play. Behind the scenes, guys are using heat packs on their knees or a heated back belt to stay loose. 

Kerr explained Looney will play minutes at the four, alongside Willie Cauley-Stein at the five. Loon may also come off the bench, his comfort spot from last season. That means Omari, Marquese Chriss and Draymond Green will feel an impact. The Warriors use their big men in hybrid four-five roles anyway, so this blurring of positions doesn’t feel too jarring. 

The coaches already are monitoring Draymond's minutes, with 25 or so in mind per game. I feel like everyone else will be happy to adjust to suit the team’s needs and get a little relief from heavy minutes when the Dubs were stuck playing with eight men available. 

@emilio_mpen Are the @warriors going to win at least 10 games this season!?

For sure. It won’t be long until the Warriors have everyone available except Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, both out with long-term injuries. Getting D’Angelo back is instant firepower to help the Warriors win the close games they’ve been giving up in the final minutes. Looney will be a stabilizing force as well. 

While the team has been struggling and playing with eight or nine guys, the minutes coming during this hardship will help. Minutes are experience. 

It’s true that moral victories are comforting for only so long. The Warriors need results. It would be frustrating to see the progress on film without the W’s to accompany what players are learning. No one likes to lose, nor do they want to make it a habit. 

@HiiiPowerRevo I’m really interested in the GSW player development branch. Are they going to help the rookies and new draft players extensively this upcoming summer? Also does GSW employ a shooting coach that helps all their players with their shots?

The Warriors have 10 coaches this season, and five of them have “Player Development” in their titles. They are serious about helping this young team learn. 

There’s not one specific shooting coach. Players pair off to watch film and build relationships. For example, Jordan Poole works with Chris DeMarco. Eric Paschall works with Theo Robinson. 

The Warriors will have a lottery pick, but the focus right now is on the talent they have. They’re devoting time and resources to bringing these guys along in their NBA careers. By helping them develop good habits early, with attention and patience, the Warriors will have a youth movement set for the future. 

@tessde every1 asking serious ?s, so I'll go silly, is it my imagination or are the Dubs' shorts getting shorter & tighter each year? 

@debsdavalle #askKerith Is the latest fashion to go towards a short-short look? I think Poole’s are the shortest.

It’s funny to get these questions, and they’re becoming more frequent. Yes, the shorts the young guys are wearing are shorter than the old-school way!

I noticed Jordan Poole cut his warm-up shorts -- yes, cut them with what looked like some jagged scissors -- to make the inseam smaller. Tiny and tight seems to be in fashion.

@TheMisterMann How much of Jim Barnett’s shoes has Kelenna Azubuike been able to fill as the new color commentator this season? 

I think Kelenna has done a fantastic job. I’ve heard Kelenna and Bob Fitzgerald in my ear during broadcasts for 23 games now. Some of the losses have been blowouts, but they still maintain a quality broadcast together. 

Jim Barnett’s playing career began in 1966. His version of the NBA is different than today’s game. Kelenna’s career ended in 2012, so some of the players he faced are still in the league. I like hearing that insight. That’s not a knock on Jim, I’m just saying it’s a different conversation. 

This is Kelenna’s rookie season in the role, but he built up his experience as a broadcaster in studio, on other networks and on the radio. He’s ready for this moment. It’s not easy to be the new guy and follow a legend like Jim, but Kelenna’s personality shines, too. 

@evenstrongerps4 What can u say about Klay's performance as a sideline reporter? #SidelineReporterKlay #HeadbandKerith #AskKerith

@DavidGrisar Now that Klay is firmly established as a Media member, does he even need to bother rehabbing?

It was my pleasure to give the mic to Klay Thompson, who was as entertaining and insightful as we thought he would be. What a great night. He truly surprised me by snatching the mic postgame to interview Omari! 

I think Klay was serious when he said in 10 years, he’d try his hand in broadcasting. He joked around with Bob and Kelenna about doing their jobs. Like father, like son maybe. Klay’s dad is a radio broadcaster for the Lakers.

Whatever Klay wants to do, he’ll be successful at it. He’ll continue his rehab knowing broadcasting is a fallback career!

High Five

This week’s high five goes out to Steve Kerr, who came on the Runnin’ Plays podcast with Logan Murdock and I. We didn’t want to ask Steve the same old questions. Topics included why he’s a Scrooge at Christmas, visiting the pyramids, what makes him sentimental, being a ballboy at UCLA and his definition of an ally. 

My favorite parts of this interview include the moment he knew, at age five, basketball was going to be his path, and which game during the playoffs made him cry by himself in the locker room. Give it a listen here, or search “Runnin’ Plays” on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen to podcasts.

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @warriorskerith, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors coverage all season.

Steve Kerr to attend Draymond Green Michigan State jersey retirement

Steve Kerr to attend Draymond Green Michigan State jersey retirement

When Draymond Green sees Michigan State retire his No. 23 jersey Tuesday, Steve Kerr will be a part of the memories. 

The coach will leave the Warriors’ five-game, eight-day road trip to witness Green, whom he calls the “heartbeat” of the team, earn one of the greatest honors a player can know. 

“When I think about what’s he’s meant to the Warriors and my coaching career, the least I can do is be there for him on a big night," Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area. "There’s not even a second thought." 

During this road trip, the Warriors have a stretch of three games in four days, including a back-to-back. The non-game day, Dec. 3, is when Green’s ceremony will happen, resulting in a span of four days in four different cities -- Orlando, Atlanta, East Lansing and Charlotte.

Green beamed when he talked about Kerr being there.

“For him to come up that day with me for a big moment for myself and my family … it really means a lot," Green told NBC Sports Bay Area. "There’s a lot of things he could be doing, like resting. Or a lot of other things on an off day rather than being in East Lansing, but I’m truly appreciative of that.”

Kerr balked at the idea of resting, and mentioned Warriors general manager Bob Myers and team owner Joe Lacob will travel for the ceremony, too. 

“It’s a moment of respect,” Kerr said. “We’re honoring Draymond and showing the respect he deserves. This is one the biggest nights of his life and career. We should be there for him.” 

Green was drafted by the Warriors in 2012. He’s in his eighth season with the team, and signed a four-year, $100 million contract extension this summer. These moments make him feel certain about his future. 

“I’ve always talked about being a part of this organization forever,” Green said. “And it’s things like [this] that make you feel that way. It’s not that you win some games. It’s not that you got paid. It’s things like [this] that make you loyal to an organization. It means a lot to me.”

[RELATED: Why MSU ceremony means so much to Draymond]

Green's relationship with Kerr is special. Their fiery moments are part of an understanding that both demand the best on the court. With three NBA championships together, their bond is deep. 

“There’s always love," Green said. "We’re both competitors. We both want to win. Neither one of us is gonna back down. That’s the exact reason both of us are in the position we’re in. It’s nothing but love and respect."