Chris Mullin

Chris Mullin's Warriors circle of life continues as NBC Sports Bay Area analyst

Chris Mullin's Warriors circle of life continues as NBC Sports Bay Area analyst

When you tune in for Warriors pregame and postgame coverage this coming NBA season, you're bound to see a familiar face.

After formerly spending 13 seasons of his Hall of Fame career with Golden State, as well as serving as the franchise's general manager, Chris Mullin is returning to his NBA roots. He'll join NBC Sports Bay Area as a Warriors analyst for all 41 regular-season home games at Chase Center this season.

Mullin, who's in the midst of enjoying his first free summer in several years, previously served as an NBA analyst for ESPN. The man who put the 'C' in Run TMC believes that exposure will serve him well in his new role, but he believes this will be even more enjoyable.

"I did it for three years at ESPN. Got some great experience there," Mullin said. "There, they've got a lot of shows going on, so you really, over the course of a day, man, you cover a lot of different platforms between radio, TV, the highlight shows. ...

"This will be a little different, I think. Obviously, you know, just really focusing on the Warriors. I'm kind of looking forward to really just locking in on the Warriors and just one opponent, as opposed to covering the whole league on a nightly basis. I think it'll be a lot more fun."

Mullin spent the last four years as the head men's basketball coach at his alma mater, St. Johns, and plans to incorporate his coaching experience into his analysis. That said, he maintains that he still sees the game in generally the same way he did as a player.

"Obviously as a player, you're always locked in with your coaching staff," Mullin explained. "I was fortunate to play for some incredible coaches throughout my career, so as far as game-planning, scouting reports, practice planning ... all those things, I was pretty locked in with my coaches on that stuff, so I used that experience."

Now, Mullin will apply his massive breadth of basketball experience on broadcasts of Warriors home games, bringing a unique perspective to NBC Sports Bay Area's coverage.

Just like anyone else who's been paying any attention whatsoever, Mullin noticed the considerable player movement that occurred in the NBA this offseason, and views it as a reaction to the Warriors' prolonged supremacy.

"I think in general, the league has evened out," Mullin said. "I think what we've seen is how good and dominant the Warriors were for the last five years. They were just, to me, just a huge gap between them and the rest of the league. So now with Kevin [Durant] in Brooklyn and Klay [Thompson] not going to play till who knows when ... to start the season without those guys obviously is a huge adjustment. That's two of the best players in the league that aren't going to be on the floor."

Consequently, Mullin views the early portion of Golden State's season as holding increased importance.

"So, I think they're going to have to really kind of figure it out this first month of training camp/preseason and maybe into the first few weeks of the regular season to get a feel for these guys," Mullin said. "I'm sure Steve [Kerr] and his staff have a pretty broad idea of what they want to do, but sometimes you have to really get in the gym to see what it really looks like.

"For the first time in a few years, anyway, training camp is actually going to matter to them."

As for how the Warriors will make up for all that they have lost this offseason, Mullin believes they will need Draymond Green to score more while still providing his same suffocating defense, and for several of the new players on the roster -- many of whom are quite young -- to take advantage of their opportunities.

Mullin had multiple chances to see one of those players in particular -- D'Angelo Russell -- in person during his time at St. Johns while Russell was with the Nets.

"He really, really came on last season as a big-time scorer," Mullin said of Russell. "He's really, really good in pick-and-roll, he's got nice size. I think there will be a little bit of an adjustment for him, you know, playing with Steph [Curry]. They're going to have to figure out that balance. If he can learn to play without the ball a little bit, it will help him, because Steph is going to draw a lot of attention. Till Klay gets back, there's going to be a huge emphasis on getting the ball out of Steph's hands.

"So, that next play is important, whether you shoot it, move it, drive it ... that next guy has got to make quick decisions. So, it could be a little bit of an adjustment there, but [Russell]'s got the gift. He's got the talent, he can handle the ball, he can shoot the ball, he can score it."

As a member of the Warriors, Russell will never have the chance to play in the same arena that Mullin called home for so many years. Instead, he'll play -- and probably start -- in the inaugural game at Chase Center, of which Mullin had no trouble speaking highly.

"It's beautiful, man," Mullin described the state-of-the-art arena. "It's a beautiful building. It's incredible. It's got all of the things you'd want in a brand-new arena. Just a beautiful place. The practice facilities and player facilities are incredible -- probably the best I've seen ever.

"There will be a little adjustment, but I think from an excitement standpoint, I think the players are going to thrive because it's just so beautiful, and they've got everything there they need to recover and feel good about stepping on the floor with healthy bodies and great energy."

[RELATED: Evans hoping maturity will feed breakout season with Dubs]

Mullin got a chance to see the Warriors' new home at a recent season-ticket holder event. It didn't take him long to return for a second visit, either.

"I saw Elton John a few weeks ago," Mullin added. "It was incredible. It was an incredible show. Outstanding. I enjoyed it totally. It was a great night. I drove over from the East Bay, and it was pretty seamless. It was a great night."

Mullin ain't no Rockets man. Rather, he's looking forward to the next step in his Warriors circle of life.

American Warriors: Top five Dubs to don red, white and blue for Team USA

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AP

American Warriors: Top five Dubs to don red, white and blue for Team USA

In the coming weeks, Team USA will look to win its third straight FIBA Basketball World Cup. The test will be difficult as some of the NBA's top players have chosen not to participate in the tournament.

In recent years, the Warriors have had a number of players participate in international competition with much success. To take you down memory lane, here's the top five Warriors to don the red, white and blue.

Kevin Durant

Durant has been a part of Team USA since 2007, but he came into his own on the international stage just as he was heading west to the Bay Area. A month after signing with Golden State, Durant led Team USA to a gold medal in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, averaging 19.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 28.6 minutes.

Over his international career, he has averaged 19.3 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting 53.6 percent from the field and 49 percent from 3-point range en route to two Olympic gold medals.

Chris Mullin

As a member of the original "Dream Team", Mullin averaged 12.9 points, 3.6 assists and 1.8 steals, helping Team USA win the gold medal in the 1992 Olympics alongside Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Magic Johnson. Mullin's gold medal in 1992 wasn't his first. Alongside Jordan, he captured basketball's highest prize during the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, averaging 11.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in eight games.

Klay Thompson

Along with fellow Splash Brother Stephen Curry, Thompson helped lead Team USA to a gold medal in the 2014 FIBA World Championships in Spain.

In nine games, he averaged 12.7 points, while shooting 52.3 percent from the field, including an 18-point performance in a win over Finland. Thompson followed his 2014 performance up with a gold medal performance in the 2016 Olympics.

In eight games, Thompson averaged 9.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 21 minutes.

Stephen Curry

Curry helped lead Team USA to the gold medal in the 2014 World Championships, averaging 10.7 points per game while shooting 43.8 percent from the 3-point line.

Four years prior, alongside future teammates Andre Iguodala and Durant, he helped Team USA win its first world championship gold medal in nearly a decade. However, Curry has yet to win an Olympic gold medal as he sat out the 2016 Olympics to rest after an extended playoff run.

[RELATED: New 'San Francisco' Warriors jersey appears to leak in 2K]

Andre Iguodala

Iguodala helped Team USA secure a gold medal in the 2010 FIBA World Cup, averaging 5.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists and a team-leading 1.8 steals while shooting 58.8 percent from the field.

Two years later, he helped Team USA win its second straight Olympic gold medal in 2012 alongside LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Durant.

How Chris Mullin sees 'huge difference' in Warriors, Blazers backcourts

How Chris Mullin sees 'huge difference' in Warriors, Blazers backcourts

Damian Lillard is having a tough go at it, and it's not about to get any easier.

Lillard reportedly has a separated rib, and he and the Portland Trail Blazers now face an extremely steep uphill battle to dig themselves out of a three-games-to-none series deficit against the Warriors in the Western Conference finals.

Game 4 is Monday night, and if Lillard and his backcourt mate CJ McCollum don't find a way to be more efficient scorers -- they've combined for 35.2 percent shooting from the field thus far -- it could mean the end of Portland's season.

Of course, Lillard and McCollum aren't shooting in a vacuum. They're going up against a talented Warriros defense that's employing a strategy designed to make them uncomfortable.

"Steve Kerr’s defensive strategy coming in, I think was great," Hall of Famer Chris Mullin said after the Warriors' Game 3 win Saturday. "Looks to me [the Warriors] all bought into it, and they love it. They’re really thriving in it. They’re getting the ball out of CJ McCollum’s hands, Damian Lillard’s hands, and that’s frustrating them. They want the ball back."

Mullin knows Lillard and McCollum are more than capable of catching fire at any moment. But unfortunately for Portland, that's not exclusive to the Blazers in this series.

“They’re great players, they really, really are," Mullin said of Lillard and McCollum. "They can really score the ball. They’re two of the best guards -- probably the second-best backcourt in the league.

“There’s a huge difference between No. 1 and No. 2.”

The No. 1 backcourt being referred to, of course, is that of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. The Splash Brothers are having a far more proficient series, compared to the Blazers' backcourt, and Mullin believes that's partly because they're more difficult to strategize against.

"What Steve Kerr’s done, he knows what [Lillard and McCollum] don’t like to do, and he’s making them do it," Mullin explained. "So when they give the ball up, that’s wearing on them, I think, mentally and physically. When you see Steph give it up, he almost gets more energized, because he loves running off screens. Same with Klay. 

"I think it’s had a negative effect on [Lillard and McCollum's] energy," Mullin continued, "because that’s not what they want to do. They’re not as comfortable without the ball. I think it’s had an effect across the board, so I give credit to the strategy that Steve has come into the series with, and then a lot of credit to the players for executing it."

[RELATED: Mullin compares Draymond's Game 3 to Magic, other greats]

Given that the Warriors have prevailed in each of the first three games of the series while employing that same strategy, it's unlikely they'll go away from what has proven to be effective when they take the floor for Game 4 at Moda Center on Monday night. If Golden State can continue making Lillard and McCollum uncomfortable, Portland's season could be on borrowed time.

Based on what he's seen, Mullin isn't expecting a potential Game 5 to be necessary.

"Get the brooms out," he said.