Kawhi Leonard

Nine must-see Warriors games on 2019-20 schedule besides Opening Night

Nine must-see Warriors games on 2019-20 schedule besides Opening Night

The NBA released its 2019-20 schedule Monday, and the league is wasting no time thrusting Chase Center under the spotlight. It is safe to presume the Warriors are delighted.

There are no fewer than 10 must-see games for Warriors fans, beginning with the regular-season opener at Chase, set for Thursday, Oct. 24, against the remodeled and much-improved Los Angeles Clippers -- perhaps the most discussed team in the NBA.

With All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George joining the team that took the Warriors to six games in the 2019 playoffs, consider the Warriors-Clippers rivalry revived, only without the mutual animosity.

Here are nine more games, in chronological order, that deserve special attention:

Nov. 6: Warriors at Rockets

Is Rockets general manager Daryl Morey still obsessed with the Warriors? Is he still angry with Steph Curry’s remorseless dispatching of his team again, forcing a third retooling of the roster? Will Russell Westbrook and James Harden still love each other two weeks into the season?

Nov. 13: Warriors at Lakers

This is, by all accounts, the season LA will snap its playoff drought at six years. LeBron James will be on a mission to prove Father Time is a myth. Good luck with that, even with the addition of the fabulous Anthony Davis. Consider this a three-week measurement of each team.

Dec. 20: Pelicans at Warriors

Zion Time. Get a glimpse -- he might be even better on the gigantic outdoor HD screen on the Chase Center plaza. Why wait until Christmas to open the biggest, most fascinating gift presented by the NBA since LeBron arrived 16 years ago?

Dec. 25: Rockets at Warriors

For the first time in five seasons, the Warriors will not play the marquee game on Marquee Day in the NBA. No matter. It’s the hated Rockets, and they’re making their initial journey to Chase. Know that Warriors co-chairman Peter Guber, who loves spectacle, will have something memorable beyond the game itself.

Jan. 8: Bucks at Warriors

Giannis Antetokounmpo makes his only visit to the Bay Area. If there’s one player who must be seen to be believed, he’s it. It won’t be easy for the rookies on the Warriors’ roster to keep their chins off their knees.

Feb. 8: Lakers at Warriors

The new Lakers’ first trip to Chase includes the return to the Bay of three ex-Warriors: DeMarcus Cousins, JaVale McGee and Quinn Cook. Is it too soon to expect Klay Thompson to be back?

March 7: 76ers at Warriors

It’s three weeks after All-Star Weekend, so it’s reasonable to believe Thompson could be back to face Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Al Horford, Tobias Harris, etc. Philly is loaded and expected to battle Milwaukee for Eastern Conference supremacy.

April 9: Warriors at Lakers

The Warriors would like to believe they will be fighting for a top-four playoff seed in the West. LA would like to believe it has a chance to snag the No. 1 seed. There could be serious playoff intensity in this game.

[RELATED: Warriors' preseason schedule includes four games vs. Lakers]

April 11: Warriors at Clippers

The Warriors will be coming off a Friday night in LA. No biggie, right? It’s the last Saturday of the regular season, and at least one team will have something at stake. May the key players for both teams be fully healthy.

NBA rumors: Warriors to open Chase Center vs. Kawhi Leonard, Clippers

NBA rumors: Warriors to open Chase Center vs. Kawhi Leonard, Clippers

The last time Kawhi Leonard was in the Bay Area, he closed out Oracle Arena.

The next time he'll be in the Bay Area, he will open up Chase Center.

The New York Times' Marc Stein reported Friday that the Warriors will play their first game in their new building against Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, Oct. 24.

Both Leonard and the Warriors are in very different situations since the last time they faced each other on June 13.

Leonard left the NBA champion Toronto Raptors for his hometown Clippers and brought MVP finalist Paul George with him, while the Warriors lost Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn Nets and traded away Andre Iguodala, among other moves.

All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson won't suit up for the Warriors as he recovers from a torn left ACL.

[RELATED: Klay thinks Warriors can keep contending]

The Oct. 24 matchup against the Clippers is the second Warriors game that reportedly has been revealed on Friday. ESPN's Tim McMahon reported that the Warriors will host the Houston Rockets on Christmas Day.

The full 2019-20 NBA schedule should be released sometime in the next few weeks.

Pelicans see Zion Williamson as 'extremely athletic' Draymond Green

Pelicans see Zion Williamson as 'extremely athletic' Draymond Green

Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin knows what Draymond Green is capable of all too well, having been the general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers for three of their four NBA Finals encounters against the Warriors.

Griffin was hired by New Orleans at the conclusion of the 2018-19 regular-season, and as his biggest move thus far, he selected Duke's Zion Williamson with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Williamson was widely expected to be the top selection, having been a constant presence on internet highlight reels for several years now. Chances are, you've probably seen a clip of him doing some kind of windmill, 360-dunk, or jumping out from the paint to the perimeter to block a 3-pointer.

He's an athletic freak, plain and simple -- at 6-foot-7, 285 lbs.

Green won't be doing those same athletic feats on a nightly basis, but nonetheless, Griffin believes there are plenty of similarities between Williamson and Golden State's power forward, and not just physical ones.

"The thing about Zion, though, that excites us is, it's not that he's going to carry you offensively, it's that he's going to be able to facilitate offense," Griffin told Jeff Duncan of The Athletic. "If you look at him as an extremely athletic Draymond Green type who may be able to facilitate all things for others and get out in transition and make plays ... that's exciting. And because that's what he natively really does, we're not going to ask him to carry an undue burden (offensively). We're going to ask him to be Zion, to figure out how that player interfaces with the rest of the pieces we have and how it can be equative to winning."

Green has the fourth-highest individual winning percentage in NBA history behind Kawhi Leonard, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, so if the Pelicans want to turn Williamson into a winning player, they couldn't do much better in terms of someone to model him after.

[RELATED: Iguodala explains why Draymond is adored by his teammates]

The fact that New Orleans believes Williamson can become a Draymond-like facilitator on top of all of his Adonis-like physical traits undoubtedly played a role in their decision to make him the No. 1 overall pick. Of course, the fact that the Pelicans are envisioning him playing like Draymond makes Green slipping all the way to the No. 35 overall pick in his draft that much tougher to explain.