Ask Kerith

How die-hard Warriors fans can stay optimistic during trying season

How die-hard Warriors fans can stay optimistic during trying season

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

The Celtics are in town, bringing an NBA-best 9-1 record to Chase Center. Three players will be out with broken hands: Steph Curry, Damion Lee, and Boston forward Gordon Hayward, who is expected to be out for six weeks out after undergoing surgery. 

Every team deals with injuries over the course of a season. Some teams get bit, others get shark-attacked. It feels like Jaws chomped off half the Dubs roster. Only four Warriors have been healthy for every game this season: Glenn Robinson III, Marquese Chriss, Jordan Poole, and Ky Bowman. 

The season marches on. There is no pity from competitors. When no one cares about your hardship, you can only turn inward for strength. The Warriors must play with purpose.

Game on!

@Nas_Isms #askKerith besides the awful start to the season and Steph injury, what questions should we be asking and why should die hard fans remain optimistic? Asking for a friend ....

Young players are getting big minutes. That’s important to their development. I was thinking about Jordan Bell when I saw him in Minnesota. If he were on this team, this season, I wonder what his growth would have been like. 

The Warriors are 2-10. The expectations are different this season, which means they can play and make mistakes and watch film and repeat. They always are building chemistry. And when the wins aren’t coming, players learn the tough lesson that outside voices can be mean. They learn to tune out the voices that don’t matter and rely on each other. Those bonds will pay off.

I truly believe the losses this season will add up to a mentally stronger, been-through-the-fire confidence, coupled with invaluable experience on the floor. The best learning comes from doing.

This organization also is a sound place to play. I don’t know that the attitudes would be as positive if the structure in place to weather a down year wasn’t solid. Top to bottom, the Warriors have good leaders and a long-term vision. I hope die-hard fans are seeing the big picture too. 

@em_nera What is the atmosphere around the locker room ? We had some "encouraging" losses so hopefully the guys are holding their heads up.

Film study helps. When a player sees examples of a good sequence, or a good move they’ve been working on, it clicks. Measuring progress is important.

Film study also illuminates weak spots. This is going to be a year of study. The guys understand that. 

Steve Kerr has been talking about the realities of the season AND the need to play their best every night to close out some of these games. Yes, the Warriors are frequently outmanned and outmatched, but how much will they allow that to be a crutch? Protect the ball, rebound, take smart shots. These are all things they can control no matter who is on the floor. 

From what I see, the players still have their heads up. No one likes to lose. They have fight. You’re right that there have been enough encouraging moments to keep the right attitude and press on. 

@ClarissaSchreed #askKerith If the Warriors are unfortunate enough to lose more players to injury, do at some point they have to forfeit games?

I heard Bob Fitzgerald mention this on the broadcast: Teams need 8 active players to begin a game, and they must finish the game with at least 5 players. 

@Jwonder64 I would like to know why they got rid of Alfonso McKinney and Quinn Cook
@JoannaB27032700 Me too 

The Warriors didn’t get rid of anyone like these guys were trash to the curb. Alfonzo’s story was unfortunate circumstance, and Quinn Cook was a free agent. 

Alfonzo went into this season believing he could be a starter since Klay Thompson was injured. Then, during the course of the preseason, injuries to Kevon Looney and Willie Cauley-Stein put the Warriors in a tough spot where they needed size. They waived Alfonzo, who had a non-guaranteed contract, to sign Marquese Chriss. There are more details here. Alfonzo landed with the Cavaliers.

Quinn had an offer from the Warriors, but they rescinded that offer for financial reasons when the D’Angelo-for-KD deal went down. Now Quinn plays for the Lakers, his favorite team as a child

@Jon_in_SoCal Draymond is such a smart player. Is there a chance he would go back to Michigan State and coach?

Draymond has the aptitude to do whatever he wants in basketball, and Draymond The Coach is a cool idea. He’s already a coach on the floor. I also think the degree of teaching he’s doing this season and the patience it requires would be something he could draw upon in the future. This is all very hypothetical right now, but if an alumnus with Draymond’s pedigree were interested in the job, I bet MSU would hire him immediately. 

I’ll keep this question in mind when Draymond goes to MSU for his jersey retirement ceremony in January. When he’s back with his Spartan family, I bet he’ll have a soft spot for wandering down this avenue in his mind. 

Draymond is so successful, any avenue could be his: Coach, front office, broadcaster, businessman. He’s earned whatever he wants next. 

@3athalete Curious in your take on last season vs this season with travel, fans, media frenzy or lack thereof.

Steph’s warm-up routine used to be must-see-TV. It’s not a stretch to say thousands of fans got to games early for a glimpse of the show. This season there is a noticeable difference. Where is everyone?

Warriors fans are still showing up, but it’s a smaller crowd. That’s expected when Steph’s not traveling. When kids wait in the lobby at the team hotel, it’s sad to see their faces when it dawns on them Steph, Klay and others are not there. 

On the flip side, the fans who come to warm-ups or hang out for autographs know everyone by name. There’s less of a frenzy but the ones who remain are true. 

As I mentioned in the last mailbag, the dip in national media covering the Warriors means the regular beat folks can get more one-on-one time with the players. Expect some great stories this season. 

@slowdowwn Hey @KerithBurke what is that block that some of the players put on their chair when they are on the bench? And what is it for? Are there health benefits to it? #AskKerith

The block is a thick foam cushion to make sitting more comfortable. The seats on the bench are folding chairs with a little padding, but when have folding chairs been nice to sit on for an extended period of time? Never!

The blocks help the players sit in a more natural position. I remember when Kevin Durant would sit without a block, his knees would be up to his elbows. There are some therapeutic benefits to sitting higher. 

High Five

Thanks to Eric Paschall for coming on our Warriors Insider podcast, which you can find here or the usual places, like Apple and Spotify. It was a long talk, and I feel thankful we got to know him better. He’s a confident person. 

The first podcast episodes Logan Murdock and I did with Kelenna Azubuike and Paschall were under the Warriors Insider banner, but we have a new name coming out and our own direction to go. Stay tuned!

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

Eric Paschall, Chase Center vibe positives in crazy Warriors season

Eric Paschall, Chase Center vibe positives in crazy Warriors season

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

This season feels like a boat being tossed on high waves. I’m naming this boat "Sports Fandom," and it’s going on an 82-game journey. After one game, the boat rocks in the direction of amazing! Fun group! What a story! The next game yanks the boat back to accusations of tanking. Who are these guys?! 

I think I’ve seen every tank GIF on Twitter because fans send them to me. Thanks ... you can stop. And I’ve seen the positive reactionary tweets with M-V-Paschall and Rookie of the Year chatter.  

I’d rather traffic in the positive. An opportunity to learn is always beneficial. This little boat is going to ride through some storms, but the journey is what matters. 

There’s a second boat named "Stop Writing In Cliches," with a loud horn signaling me to get on with the mailbag.

Game On!

@kelcatinc This will be your first year reporting on the dubs that they may possibly miss the playoffs...how you holding up?

@HV1443 Does this make your job easier or harder?

I’m holding up fine! I have the same duties every game, win or lose. My job is to tell the stories of the players on the team, and relay observations during the game to the viewers. 

My broadcasting team has the right philosophy, lead by our producer Phil. He’s been on the Warriors beat for about a dozen years, and he wants to make sure there’s no difference in the quality of our broadcast whether we’re covering a 20-win team or a 60-win team. 

Bob Fitzgerald, Jim Barnett, and Tim Roye have been on the job decades. Kelenna Azubuike keeps an even keel from his playing days. Plus, he’s just a chill dude. They all bring the same perspective: Call a compelling game no matter the circumstances.

It’s great being surrounded by professionals who have seen it all. 

The group of reporters who cover the team daily noticed the national media coverage has fallen off. That means the players are not spread thin with interview demands, and we have better chances to get one-on-one time with them for deeper conversations. That’s going to lead to some great stories. I’m certain Warriors fans will enjoy the coverage this season on TV and online.

Via instagram, @goldenstatewarriorsreign: With Eric Paschall’s success, do you think his role will be magnified even further? I see him as a nightly 20 minutes off the bench guy. 

This question came the morning before Paschall erupted for 34 points and 13 rebounds on his 23rd birthday. Paschall has been the Warriors’ best new player to start the season, and if these performances continue, he’ll be one of the best new players in the league, period. 

Paschall’s maturity and years in a strong Villanova program are flowing into extended playing time for the Dubs. He’s learning quickly. He admitted he did not think he would have to do so much, so soon, but that’s the situation and he’s not backing down. 

Right now he’s in a starting role, and that should be the case for a while, even when Draymond Green and Kevon Looney come back. What’s next for Paschall is working his way around double-teams now that defenses know they have to key-in on him to limit his explosive performances. 

@GJohnde What are your thoughts on Willie? #askKerith

Willie is coming along. It’s difficult to have a training camp injury while joining a new team. While other players got their conditioning up and began their understanding of the schemes, he had to sit and watch. 

He has had flashes of exciting play, with some lobs and dunks. The Warriors always demand a strong defensive presence, so more rim protection and rebounding would be helpful.

Willie seems to have the right attitude and I think he’ll find his way to solid nights of contribution. 

@rory_h_r What's the atmosphere in the new stadium? How are fans feeling?

Via instagram, @sasutherland1: What is the vibe of the new stadium and how does it compare to Oracle?

The Blazers’ sideline reporter is a friend of mine and it felt special to hear her call Chase Center “beautiful.” The look of this place could really make it a basketball mecca in the West, especially when the product on the court is championship level. They’ll get there. 

The atmosphere so far is loud and engaged. The home fans most recently saw the games against the Hornets (tight game until some last-minute mistakes) and Blazers (big win over one of the best backcourts in the NBA) and they came through with high energy. It’s loud at Chase Center when the fans are in a frenzy. 

Warriors Insider Monte Poole and I were talking about how fans understand this year will be different, and they’re behind their team with encouragement. It reminds him of the old, less-prosperous seasons at Oracle where fans appreciate the game and want to build up the guys with love. 

@Dugstreet Where is your favorite place to eat at Chase Center so far? I haven’t been there yet, but would like to know the yummiest food? Thank you Kerith.

I like the chicken sandwiches at Bakesale Betty, and Tacolicious is a favorite of mine, at Chase or around town. I mostly eat in the media room where I can grab a salad. There’s also a frozen yogurt machine and I’m starting a pre-game routine where I eat a small bowl of froyo with oreo topping.   

Click right here for a list of the Chase Center food options. Lots of yummy choices!

Via instagram, @mass.of.one: Are the Warriors the first team to pass out T-shirts to the crowd for playoff games? I don’t remember any teams that did that before the We Believe playoffs. 

I needed Warriors' PR man Ray Ridder’s help to answer this question and he believes the "We Believe" playoffs were the first time a team created T-shirts for the crowd. He’s not 100% certain, but he’s pretty sure, and if you know Ray’s ability to recall things, he’s usually right. 

Via instagram, @spindrome: Where are you going for your next big vacay? 

My next holiday will be All-Star Break. My husband and I like to get away to a beach when we have time together. We’re thinking Hawaii. 

High Five

This week’s high five goes to Sister Regena @sistahbabygirl for some perspective. 

Her Twitter bio says she’s a Dominican Sister of Mission San Jose and Andre Iguodala’s number one fan. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing her and she’s a real one.

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 will Warriors respond to early season woes, Steph Curry's injury?

ask_kerith_toyota_web.jpg
Tara Funk / NBC Sports Bay Area

How will Warriors respond to early season woes, Steph Curry's injury?

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

This is a strange mailbag to write, because I did not request #AskKerith questions after Steph’s injury. I felt sad, and I can predict what you want to know: Will he be OK, how long is he out, is the season lost, will they tank, etc. The first question is “yes, with time” and the rest, I don’t know.

I’m sitting with the emotional blow of all of this. Steph’s broken hand joins Klay Thompson’s ACL injury and Kevon Looney’s neuropathy and Jacob Evans’ adductor strain. This is an awful toll, and tonight is only Game 5 of the season.

Maybe I can answer, “Is the season lost?” Time spent learning is never lost, and that’s what the young players will have to do. They have more responsibility and minutes hoisted upon them. That’s tough. No opponent cares. The Warriors embraced their "Super Villains" domination. Now, they’ll get a taste of the lumps they inflicted on other teams.

This season will be about getting stronger through struggle.

“It's a great opportunity for these young guys to play ... but it's also a little bit too much,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game Wednesday.

The baptism by fire came soon, at a scorching temperature.

Game On!

@GoldenGriffinX3 what is the energy of the squad like? Do they seem like they are building through this or just going through the motions? Too early to tell? #AskKerith #DubNation

The energy after Steph’s injury was subdued. There was a lot of processing. The team already was dealing with the reality of how different this season will feel and all the reasons they started so poorly. Then a wallop came. 

There is good energy. I get to see the bench up close during games. The communication is flowing in a positive way. The young guys get along in games, in the locker room and on the bus. They’re already settling into natural friendships. When you care about the man beside you, it’s easier to get through tough things together.

@KimChau28 Why is Kerr not encouraging his players more, instead of telling them to get used to losing after game 1? Why not simplify the offense til the young guys knows how to run it? He can’t run the same system w/this team.

I think you’re talking about Steve saying “this is not a one-off” after the season opener against the Clippers. Steve was reminding the guys this is reality now. He’s not discouraging his players. He was recalibrating the expectations for them and a fan base spoiled by the best span in recent NBA history.

The Warriors went to the NBA Finals five consecutive times. They won three championships, including back-to-back titles, and they probably would have won last season if injuries didn’t severely cripple them. They had a 73 win-season to set a new regular-season record. They nearly swept their way through a postseason, finishing 16-1 instead in 2017.

These things are not normal. Fourteen teams in the NBA last season finished with less than 40 regular-season wins. As the Warriors come down from their history-making stratosphere, Steve is relaying what’s more typical in the NBA experience. Get ready.

@DallasF69305898 Gsw most improved player? #askkerith

Jacob Evans. He nailed four 3-pointers in the first game of the season, and you could see the confidence he was bringing to games. All the work he did in Santa Cruz and the time he spent with the Dubs during the playoffs last season was paying off. 

It's a bummer that progress goes on pause while Evans deals with the adductor (groin) strain.

@Michaelosfc Damion Lee had a great game (versus the Pelicans), can we see some more playing time from him in the near future?? #DubNation

Before Steph’s injury, the answer was yes. Now the Warriors need him even more. Damion had a spectacular game against the Pelicans, rolling to the first double-double of his career with 23 points and 11 rebounds in 28 minutes. 

Don’t underestimate Damion’s mettle. He’s 27 years old and has overcome two ACL tears and a broken hand to scrap his way to time with the Dubs. I’m impressed with his assertiveness. Stepping up while Steph is out could be a big moment for him.

@yohdah Any chance of Bogut returning to help with height and D?

Highly doubtful. He’s on contract again with the Sydney Kings to play this season, so he would not be available until late in the NBA season. Who knows what the Warriors’ needs will be in March? Last season, he re-joined the team specifically for the playoffs.

Via instagram @tomzemach23 Do you think the Warriors can bounce back and make the playoffs?

I got this question before Steph’s injury, and here was my answer in the first draft of the mailbag: “I believe any group anchored by Steph and Draymond will be a playoff team, provided long-term injuries don’t bite them.”

I understand the panic fans are feeling. It’s unclear right now how long Steph is out. And overall … yeah. The playoffs are in jeopardy. 

@houseofannie Is there merit to the idea of tanking this season to get LaMelo?

Talking about tanking is delicate. While a high draft pick for the future is beneficial, Game 5 out of 82 is tonight, and the players are living in the present. No one wants to lose, or make a pattern of it.

Losing sucks. Prolonged losing hurts the pride, and it’s contrary to what the Warriors believe in. I’m curious to see how Draymond Green responds to the first reporter who brings up tanking.

High Five

Kelenna Azubuike is the first podcast guest for Logan and me. Our conversation comes out Nov. 7. We asked Kelenna about his playing days, his injuries, and following Jim Barnett in the broadcasting booth. Stay tuned!

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