Grant Liffmann

Five observations from Warriors' 33-point preseason loss to Lakers

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Five observations from Warriors' 33-point preseason loss to Lakers

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.
 
The Warriors' fourth preseason game, a 126-93 loss to the Lakers on Wednesday night at Staples Center, was one to forget.

There were not too many macro-level conclusions to be made from the 33-point loss, as Steph Curry, Kevon Looney, Willie Cauley-Stein, Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson III and Omari Spellman all sat out. Despite the huge talent disparity in the game, it is quite obvious that the Lakers are an impressive team.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis already have midseason-type chemistry, and the rest of the squad plays with great enthusiasm and skill. They will be a force to be reckoned with all season if they stay healthy. 
 
Even though the game was rather meaningless for the Warriors, there were some small takeaways to take note of.

Draymond Green's conditioning

If Draymond Green seems a tad slow or a little out of shape, do not worry, this is how he usually approaches the regular season. Green consistently has tried to reduce the wear and tear on his body in the offseason as he prepares for a long and arduous NBA schedule. This season is no different as Green gains his conditioning as the regular season begins.

Unlike last season, it is expected that the power forward pushes himself physically to reach his playoff-shape earlier in the regular season, as the Warriors will need him at his very best from the start. It is crucial that he plays like the All-Star he is if the Dubs have a chance at reaching the playoffs. 

Eric Paschall's progress

Eric Paschall showed some glimpses of how he can be a solid defender. Paschall faced LeBron in a few one-on-one situations, and held his own, pressuring The King into tough fadeaway shots -- though James inevitably scored on those possessions.

On the other side of the court, Paschall made a fadeaway of his own in LeBron's face. While that shot looked fluid and went in, it is clear that the early weakness in Paschall's game is his shooting. Like most rookies, adapting to the NBA's longer 3-point distance, as well as the athleticism and speed of the opponents, can be a tough transition when trying to find their shot.

There is no reason to doubt that Paschall eventually will improve in that regard, but if he continues to struggle on open jumpers to start the season, it might limit his playing time early on. 

Watching Jordan Poole

As expected, Jordan Poole is not ready to take over and lead an offense without help. There was no reason to assume at this point he would be able to, but after expectations soared sky-high following his explosive first two preseason games, his production has fallen off considerably as the Warriors' stars and key players have sat out.

Poole can be a weapon in an offense where he can fly under the radar and come off screens free to shoot. With Curry, Green or D'Angelo Russell feeding him, Poole will have ample opportunity to fire away. But when he is the focal point of the offense, and defenses are able to key in on him, he's a lot less effective.

With time and experience, Poole has the skillset and mindset to eventually be an offensive force. But until then, he will need to be a complimentary piece that can spread the floor for Curry and Russell. 

Jacob Evans' evolution

In four preseason games, Jacob Evans III is a combined 4-for-7 from 3-point range. While it is a small sample size, it is very clear Evans is a much more confident shooter, with a more effective shooting stroke. The Warriors are desperate to find players that are capable of defending small forwards, while being able and willing to hit an open shot.

If Evans maintains this new found effectiveness, there is a strong chance that he will find consistent playing time in the rotation.

Steve Kerr's rotations

Missing Looney, Cauley-Stein and Burks for the whole preseason severely has limited Steve Kerr's ability to experiment with rotations or try to development chemistry in lineups. With the start of the regular season next week, it appears as if all the experimentation will have to be a work in progress while the games count.

[RELATED: Dudley backs Dray's comments on Chriss' tenure with Suns]

The Warriors' playoff hopes will not have a large margin for error to lose games while they get players back from injury and try to strategize the most effective lineups. This will be Kerr's challenge, and patience will be key.

Steph Curry's leadership on display in Warriors' third preseason game

Steph Curry's leadership on display in Warriors' third preseason game

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

It was primarily a starless night in Los Angeles, as Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis and Warriors players Draymond Green and D'Angelo Russell rode the bench. Golden State, led by Steph Curry and a cast of rookies and young players, fell to the Lakers 104-98 in a rather sloppy performance.

Here are some observations from the game:

Steph the leader

Curry has not always been a very vocal leader, but he has been one to lead by example. In the third preseason game last night, he clearly made a point to play some passionate defense. For stars like Curry, traditionally giving maximum effort in the preseason seems unnecessary and sometimes counter-intuitive. But last night, Curry either made the conscious decision to work on his defensive game, or show this young Warriors team how important it is to emphasize defensive effort.

Curry's physical build and offensive greatness have made many over the years take his defense for granted, but at his best -- which includes not reaching and collecting fouls) -- Curry is a stout defender that can hold his own. Last night, he finished the game with two steals and two blocks in just 21 minutes of action.

If the Warriors are going to make a run for the playoffs this year, it'll be important that the team reflects that same defensive mindset.

Lee stands out

Damion Lee did not make a three-pointer in four attempts, which in most cases would mean that he had an ineffective game. However, Lee impressed in many other facets, including finishing 7-for-7 from inside the arc, drawing fouls, collecting nine rebounds and three steals, and finishing the game with a team-high 18 points in just 23 minutes.

If Lee plans to get significant playing time, and perhaps become a permanent fixture on the roster, he will have to continue to show the coaching staff and front office that he can play an all-around game like last night. At the minimum, Lee normally can be a trusted three-point shooter who plays with a high-motor. But if he can keep excelling in other ways, he assuredly will find himself in the Warriors rotation.

Up-and-down McKinnie

Alfonzo McKinnie started the game off in a strong fashion doing what he does best, playing with high-energy and crashing the glass. He even hit a three-pointer on his first attempt shortly after checking into the game in the first quarter. Unfortunately for Zo, his play regressed as the game went along.

Regardless, McKinnie gave a brief reminder of what he can bring to the team that is so desperate for solid small forward play. If the front office plans on adding Marquese Chriss to the roster, they would have to get creative in order to keep McKinnie around.

But if Zo steps up and plays like he did at the start of last night's game, he is going to make it an even tougher decision than it already is. 

Chriss stays hot

Speaking of Marquese Chriss, the former lottery pick yet again played an effective game from the starting center spot. Chriss has made a concerted effort to show he can play down-low and not just drift out to the perimeter, and it has been paying off. He battled around the hoop, collecting 11 rebounds, drawing fouls and converting all six of his free throw attempts.

To the surprise of many, he has shown a willingness to pass with great efficiency, recording four assists in all three preseason games. At this juncture, there is an overwhelming assumption that Chriss will on the opening night roster, with two preseason games left to solidify his case.

[RELATED: Lakers giving Warriors repeated reminders of size they lack]

Shooting woes

The Warriors shot just 25 percent on 36 attempts from deep last night on a rough shooting night for the team. The Warriors, like all other teams, have become accustomed to random poor shooting performances. Unfortunately, unlike past seasons where the team could still win the game on the defensive end, an off-night offensively might spell doom for them this season.

The margin for error has shrunk considerably this season without Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson (for most of the year). With a team as young and inexperienced as the Dubs, there inevitably will be some inconsistency from many of their players, like the 3-for-14 shooting game from Jordan Poole last night.

The story of the season will be whether or not the coaching staff can concoct a respectable defense out of the pieces they have on the roster. If not, the Warriors will have to put up some offensive explosions on a nightly basis.

Five Warriors who can make big impression in preseason game vs. T-Wolves

Five Warriors who can make big impression in preseason game vs. T-Wolves

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

The Warriors roster is in flux this preseason with many positions up for grabs in open competition.

In Saturday's first preseason game against the Lakers, there weren't any players that made a big enough impact to bring any clarity to these position battles.

With the Minnesota Timberwolves in town to face the Warriors for the second preseason game Thursday at Chase Center, some players have an opportunity to take a step forward in securing an important role for the team.

Here are some players to watch that right in the middle of these battles:

Alfonzo McKinnie

In a matter of a week, the talk about Zo has gonna from being the favorite to land the starting small forward spot, to possibly being cut from the team in order to sign a big man.

Is it all talk? Possibly. But McKinnie needs to step up and make his impact felt if he plans on becoming a cemented piece in the rotation. In order to help his own cause, McKinnie will have to exhibit solid defense, attack the offensive (and defensive) glass with his elite rebounding skill and most importantly, hit some 3-pointers.

The Warriors are not expecting McKinnie to become an All-Star at the wing position, but they do need a serviceable small forward they can rely on. At this point, perhaps he does not even need to be a net positive on the court, he just can't be a negative.

That is where the bar currently is set.

Marquese Chriss

Chriss quickly has gone from an afterthought training camp signing to the reason why McKinnie might lose his roster spot.

With Willie Cauley-Stein hurt and Kevon Looney hobbled, the opportunity is there for Chriss to seize. He did a little bit of everything against the Lakers on Saturday, which reportedly led some players to secretly pitch giving him a roster spot.

Immaturity and off-court issues have plagued Chriss early in his career, but he has shown up to the Warriors as a humbled young man looking for a second chance. The talent absolutely is there. Chriss is a 6'10" athletic big that can shoot from anywhere on the court.

Keep a close eye on him against the T-Wolves. Everyone in the Warriors organization will be too.

Jordan Poole

He was the story of the first preseason game, and some times the hardest thing for a rookie to do is stay consistently effective. The Warriors are looking for a player to be willing and able to fire away from deep, and Poole provided that against the Lakers.

It is unfair to ask any current Warrior to replace Klay Thompson, but the role of shooter and spacer from the two-guard position is up for grabs.

There will be even more focus on Poole on Thursday, so he will have to show that he can replicate his productivity while garnering more attention.

Glenn Robinson III

If Chriss is the spotlighted reason that McKinnie could be looking over his shoulder, then GR3's impact on the decision definitely is flying under the radar.

Cutting Robinson would not help the Warriors' cap situation as he has a guaranteed contract this season. But if he were able to step up and show the front office and coaches that he can make a real impact from the wing position, then they would feel a lot more comfortable with idea of splitting with McKinnie.

So far, Robinson has not done anything to impress yet. It will be up to him to assert himself and make plays on the court that can justify a spot in the wing rotation.

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Jacob Evans III

The surprise dark horse in the competition for the opening night small forward, Evans is trying to prove that unlike his quiet demeanor, his impact on the court can be loud.

He took the first step in the right direction against the Lakers, shooting with confidence while playing assertive basketball. While Evans was being groomed to be a point guard type during the offseason, there is a much more glaring need at the wing position. He originally was drafted to be a player that can guard multiple positions while being able to hit an open triple. If he can do exactly that now he will find time in the rotation.

Like McKinnie and Robinson, the opportunity is there for Evans to make his mark in the preseason games, and show Steve Kerr that he not only belongs, but also that he is important to the team's success.