Warriors

Assessing Warriors' roster, expectations heading into rebuild season

Assessing Warriors' roster, expectations heading into rebuild season

OAKLAND -- As the Warriors reach mid-July pressed against the hard cap with 14 men under contract, all but one guaranteed, they might consider issuing name tags when training camp opens in about 10 weeks.

When the Warriors take the floor for Day 1 of camp, Jacob Evans III -- a rookie last season -- will see only four teammates with longer tenures as Warriors: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney.

With everyone else arriving in the 15 months since Evans was drafted, this is as close as CEO Joe Lacob and general manager Bob Myers ever want to come to a full rebuild.

It’s out of necessity. Though the Warriors anticipated the departure of Kevin Durant, and were ready to reload, there was no way to prepare for the injury that will keep Thompson out of action until February at the soonest. With two All-Stars down and with so many players unfamiliar with each other, much less as teammates, logic dictates the Warriors will fall from their perch at or near the top of the NBA.

Here’s a look the roster, as it stands on July 13, followed by reasonable expectations:

POINT GUARD

Curry, of course, will be the starter. He’s the most efficiently productive guard in the league. He’ll also be entering his 11th season.

Behind Curry is Evans, who projects as the primary backup. He has played a total of 204 NBA minutes, spread out over 30 games. He’s better at facilitating than scoring, and certainly looks more comfortable.

If Curry plays 70-plus games and Evans performs at the level the Warriors projected upon Patrick McCaw, this has a chance to work.

SHOOTING GUARDS

D’Angelo Russell, acquired in a sign-and-trade deal with the Nets, will open as the starter. Only 23 years old, he is coming off his first season as an All-Star. The Warriors will be delighted if the 6-foot-5 Ohio State product can approach that standard. Bonus: He’ll get minutes at the point, which is where he has spent most of his first four NBA seasons.

Behind Russell is first-round draft pick Jordan Poole and eight-year veteran Alec Burks.

The early word on Poole suggests he will be by turns spectacular and infuriating. There is no denying his gifts, but they come with the impetuousness of an ultra-confident 20-year-old.

Burks is one of those players that will always have a job. He’s lengthy (6-6, 6-10 wingspan) and shoots the 3-ball well enough to command respect from opponents. Burks also will play some small forward and if he impresses on defense, he could open the season starting there.

It is safe to presume Russell and Poole will supply oohs, ahhs and also some uh-ohs.

SMALL FORWARD

The Warriors know what Alfonzo McKinnie brings: average shooting, average defense and paint presence above his 6-7 stature. He earned the final roster spot last October, does not have a guarantee for 2019-20 yet could open as the starter.

That the Warriors added Glenn Robinson III and Burks, both with at least five years of NBA experience, could make this the most interesting competition in camp.

Robinson’s shooting alternates between fantastic and please-stop-jacking. He’ll have opportunities, though, and his minutes will be determined by his consistency at both ends.

The Warriors have gotten accustomed to defense here, whether it was with Andre Iguodala or KD. That will continue to matter.

POWER FORWARD

Green is the starter and he’s entering a contract year. Perhaps the best all-around defender in the NBA, he’ll need to be more of a scoring threat. In 2015-16, the last season without Durant as a teammate, Green averaged 14.0 points per game on 49.0 percent shooting, 38.8 percent beyond the arc. If he approaches that and still raises hell on defense, the money will follow.

Behind Green are Eric Paschall and Alen Smailagic, two rookies with different levels of experience and readiness.

Paschall projects to earn minutes and easily could work his way into the rotation. At 6-7, 240, he’s a high-energy presence, mature and with a smooth shooting stroke. Four years at an elite program (Villanova) should serve him well.

Smailagic, who turns 19 next month, has a fairly high ceiling that he’s not yet close to. The Warriors have faith in him, largely based on what he showed last season at G League Santa Cruz, but his early NBA experience will feature plenty of sitting and watching.

CENTER

Willie Cauley-Stein projects as the starter, but don’t be surprised if Looney closes.

At 7-feet, Cauley-Stein brings a level of vertical spacing similar to that of ex-Warrior JaVale McGee. The plus is that WCS has broader offensive skills, including a decent midrange jumper. The minus is that he is an inconsistent rebounder with no history of rim protection.

Looney worked his way from a fringe player facing considerable physical challenges to a valuable member of a quality team by remaking his physique, learning from vets and coaches and applying his strengths, mostly defense-oriented. He’ll flash more offense.

In today’s NBA, in which versatility is practically a necessity, this is a decent tag-team.

REASONABLE EXPECTATION

If all goes well, the core is healthy and Thompson returns for the final 20 games, the ceiling for wins is in the low 50s, enough to put the Warriors into the range of a No. 4 or No. 5 seed, with players and coaches in contention for awards.

[RELATED: Why Barkley believes Dubs will struggle to make playoffs]

The floor, based on an extended orientation period and a few unanticipated hiccups, is somewhere around 45 wins. Does that mean playoffs? In the rugged Western Conference, that’s a resounding . . . maybe.

LeBron James mentions Steph Curry, clowns in cryptic Instagram post

LeBron James mentions Steph Curry, clowns in cryptic Instagram post

LeBron James did not play in the Warriors-Lakers preseason game Monday night in Los Angeles.

But about 80 minutes before the opening tip at Staples Center, the three-time NBA champion created headlines when he spoke to the media regarding the drama between the NBA, China and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.

Then about five minutes before the game started, he sent out two tweets:

Before the fourth quarter began, LeBron and Warriors superstar Steph Curry exchanged pleasantries:

After Tuesday's practice, LeBron said he feels like his pregame comments were taken out of context:

About 45 minutes later, he took to Instagram:

Are "they" -- the clowns that is -- the media in general or anybody who disagreed with what he said? Both?

Why send that message to Curry? 

[RELATEDHow security man Walker shocked Steph with Warriors return]

Does LeBron realize he sounded foolish when he told reporters that he believes Morey "was either misinformed or not really educated on the situation, and if he was, then so be it," and immediately followed that with: "I have no idea, but that is just my belief."

Is he aware that the backlash is self-inflicted?

Are you sick of this whole story?

Let's move on.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram

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Steve Kerr hopes Kevon Looney will play in Warriors' season opener

Steve Kerr hopes Kevon Looney will play in Warriors' season opener

Well, this isn't exactly the Kevon Looney update you were hoping for.

Steve Kerr announced after practice Tuesday that the Warriors big man will not play against the Lakers on Wednesday or Friday.

Looney tweaked his hamstring 13 days ago and missed Golden State's first three preseason games.

At Media Day, Kerr told reporters that he has big plans for the 23-year-old and is planning on playing him around 30 minutes per night.

Willie Cauley-Stein -- who was projected to start at center -- has missed all of traning camp and is expected to be sidelined the first couple regular season games.

Without these two, the Dubs are getting crushed on the glass.

[RELATEDLooney shares details of ongoing chest injury rehab]

At this point, it would be very surprising if Marquese Chriss isn't on the Opening Night roster.

The 22-year-old is averaging 10.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.7 blocks during the preseason. He's also a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram