Warriors

Ask Kerith Mailbag: Where Warriors fans' biggest questions are answered

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Illustration by Tara Funk

Ask Kerith Mailbag: Where Warriors fans' biggest questions are answered

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

Hi everyone! Great to be back for another season of Warriors basketball on NBC Sports Bay Area.

This summer was an amazing time in my life. After covering a championship season, I got married! My husband and I also traveled to London, Paris and Dublin. Getting away for a while reminded me how much I wanted to come back. Best job in the world.

My mailbag is new this season, and it builds on the great questions I get from Warriors fans all season. It’s clear you love this team, and you know them well. So, let’s get to your questions …

Game on!

@steffiwu: What will motivate the Dubs to play their best, even though it's a long season and they have their sights on yet another [championship]? Do too many [rings] cause turnovers?

Thanks for this question, Steff -- you’re tapping into the biggest storyline of the season. How can a team that’s been to the Finals four consecutive years ...won three championships … and set the NBA’s regular-season wins record motivate themselves for game 44 in the dead of winter when they know the real prize is in the playoffs?

First, no one is anointed The Champion when a season tips off. No matter how good you are, you have to earn it. The Warriors are a disciplined bunch, too. They know their habits dictate their success. Coaches say the way you practice is the way you play, so it’s a philosophy of doing things right at all times.

The Warriors know they’re hunted. They know the formula for winning. If they ease up on that formula? A team that doesn’t ease up has a window to win.

This might sound like platitudes, because on paper, the Warriors should pummel everyone. This is a roster for the ages. As the roster gets older, it’s human nature to conserve energy. When you know how to win, you know the softer spots where you can let up during an 82-game schedule, and that’s where the motivation is needed. Steve Kerr describes this as “playing with purpose.” He understands there will be ebbs and flows in energy during a long season. What’s he’s asking the guys to do, while understanding where they are coming from, is to play sharp. Play to a standard that represents their greatness.

@BlondMsKang: How do you think the move to SF will affect players’ routines/quality of life? Do you think they’ll have to move to SF or will they stay in East Bay & deal with more traffic?

Bay Area traffic is some of the worst in the country, so guys are making their plans. They were even talking about it last season.

Some plan on keeping their homes in the East Bay but getting crash pads in San Francisco to avoid crossing the bridge on game days. Others will try to stick it out in the East Bay and see how the first season at Chase Center goes. Some guys own multiple properties and already have places in San Francisco.

@TeresaGrant415: Pat McCaw!!!! What is going on? And how long can this go on for?

Pat McCaw questions were the most popular this week. As best as I can tell, McCaw is taking a risk on himself, and I can’t begrudge someone for doing that. He went through a catastrophic back injury, one where he momentarily lost feeling in his legs, and that can change a person.

Maybe he’s feeling like life in the NBA can end in an instant, so he needs to make as much money as he can now. Maybe during his rehab, he saw the devotion he was putting into his recovery and how talented he is, and decided he wants a different environment to showcase his skills. Maybe that’s motivating him to shoot for the moon with different contract terms than the Warriors offered.

The Warriors adore McCaw, as a player and a person. I’ve never seen a team so distraught when McCaw was hospitalized. It impacted Kerr deeply. They’ll carry warm feelings for him no matter what happens.

@TheSFGiantsGuy: How many minutes do you expect Jordan Bell to see, and who else will be on the floor when he sees those minutes?

@couchtomato62: Is steve Just experimenting with line ups because it's pre-season or are we gonna have another year of uncertainty of place, and yank a player for 4 games if they make a mistake. Why is Damian getting all the starter reps and not Jordan or Loon.

I’m going to hit these two questions in one answer. The center position is fascinating this season, with three talented players: Jordan Bell, Kevon Looney and Damian Jones. It seems like Kerr has been starting DJ because he’s the question mark. Kerr knows what he’s getting with JB and Loon because he saw them in action last season.

DJ has some freakish talent, and he did good work in the G-League last season, averaging about 30 minutes, 15 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks per game. Now it’s time to really get his feet wet with the big boy club to build on his two-way call-ups last season.

It’s clear DJ is talented, but for all young players, the mental side of the game, like the decision-making at quick speeds, needs to match the physical skills. DJ’s confidence will only grow as he gets more minutes in more games.

As for the group, it might be frustrating as a fan to read, “It’s going to be center by committee,” but that’s how it’s shaping up. Remember, the Warriors had six (!) centers on the roster last season, so these young fellas were in an environment where sharing felt normal. They got to see how Zaza and JaVale handled the situation professionally last season, so the youngsters have the blueprint and fewer teammates to share with this season.

The guys don’t seem irritated by the situation. JB and Loon trained in the offseason at UCLA together. DJ is coming into the fold well. Each of these guys has a distinct set of skills, and each will be called upon at different times, depending on the match-ups. I don’t have a minutes prediction because I’m curious to see how the committee plays out myself.

@bollob: Would you rather fight one horse sized duck or 100 duck sized horses?

Gimme the tiny horses. Also, to get the inevitable out of the way … sure, a hot dog is a sandwich. Fine. Whatever.

High Five

This week’s High Five goes to Boogie Cousins, who joined Bob Fitzgerald and Jim Barnett during our Warriors-Suns broadcast Monday, and dropped some insightful and funny lines.

Boogie’s teammates already love him. I was watching him during that preseason game, and he’s not a suit-jacket-behind-the-bench kind of guy. Boogie was in warm-ups ... with a sweatband ... sitting on the floor during the game, talking and reacting to the action. Even though he’s not playing, he’s in the mix as an energetic teammate.

Boogie told Bob and Jim that community work is incredibly important to him. I followed up with him after the game about a report I saw where he offered to pay for Stephon Clark’s funeral earlier this year. Boogie confirmed he did indeed help Clark’s family.

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

Klay Thompson gets trolled again by friend Zaza Pachulia on Instagram

Klay Thompson gets trolled again by friend Zaza Pachulia on Instagram

Death, taxes and Zaza Pachulia bashing on Klay Thompson.

Those are the guarantees in life. But it's all in good fun, even on matters of the heart.

Klay recently posted a cute photo while he was in France with Laura Harrier. It was so precious, but Zaza had to ruin the moment:

"Finally somebody loves you bro," Zaza commented.

Don't worry, they're close friends and do this from time to time.

[RELATED: Six Warriors storylines to watch next season]

When Klay suffered his torn left ACL, Zaza posted a sweet video on Instagram to wish him a speedy recovery -- and only because he wanted to have a dunk contest rematch. 

That's what friends are for.

Team USA's 78-game international win streak snapped with Australia loss

Team USA's 78-game international win streak snapped with Australia loss

Don't bet on the B team. 

In stunning fashion, the United States Men's National Basketball Team had their 78-game international winning streak snapped on Friday with a 98-94 loss to Australia. The loss was Team USA's first defeat in a major international tournament or exhibition since the 2006 world championship semifinals. 

With the 2019 FIBA World Cup a week away, this depleted Team USA is far from winning gold. 

Kings forward Harrison Barnes is a veteran for Team USA and scored 20 points in the loss. He was Team USA's second-leading scorer behind Celtics point guard Kemba Walker, who dropped 22. Barnes also led Team USA with six rebounds and made three of his five 3-point attempts. 

Team USA, led by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Warriors coach Steve Kerr, had no answer for Australia's pesky point guard Patty Mills. The longtime Spurs guard, who Popovich is well acquainted with, scored a game-high 30 points and drained four shots from beyond the arc. 

[RELATED: Why winning 73 games didn't end in a Warriors championship]

"As I told you all after the last game, Patty's a pain,'' Popovich told reporters. 

Team USA's next tune-up before the World Cup comes Monday in Sydney, Australia against Canada.