Warriors

Draymond Green: Warriors training camp profile

Draymond Green: Warriors training camp profile

The Bulls did it twice, with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen leading the way. The Lakers accomplished it once, behind Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. In the 42 seasons since the NBA-ABA merger, those are the only franchises to win three consecutive NBA Finals.

When the Warriors come together for training camp on Sept. 25, their goal is to become the third.

Here is a look at those players with guaranteed roster spots.

SIXTH IN A SERIES

Player: Draymond Green
Position: Power Forward
Height/weight: 6-7, 230
College: Michigan State
Age: 28
Salary: $17.47M (Year 4 of a five-year contract worth $82M per Spotrac).
NBA 2K Player Rating: 87

2017-18 in review: Though Green’s defense generally was stellar, it didn’t meet the standard set the previous season, when he was rightfully voted Defensive Player of the Year. He also struggled with his 3-point shot. No question he felt the affects of several injuries, most notably nagging shoulder soreness. Yet he still led the team in rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. Green was, despite the numbers, still an overall force worthy of his third consecutive trip to the All-Star Game.

Key stats: 70 games (70 starts), averaging 11.0 points (45.4 percent FG, 30.1 percent 3p), 7.6 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks per game.

Season highs: Points (25), rebounds (16), assists (16), blocks (six), steals (four, three times), minutes (40).

2018-19 outlook: Insofar as Green does not take well to failure, expect him to raise his overall defense to a level that would put him back in the DPOY conversation. Assuming a summer of physical healing, his shot should improve enough to once again force teams to guard him up top. Green’s fiery ways will continue -- they’re a crucial element of the team’s chemistry -- but don’t be surprised if there is a reduction in technical fouls related to jawing with officials.

The time is right for Warriors to make their typical impressive run

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USATSI

The time is right for Warriors to make their typical impressive run

OAKLAND – In each of the past four seasons for the Warriors, there was a point at which hoops harmony was achieved among stars, role players and coaches. For this season, that time is now.

After winning three consecutive games on the road, they now play 11 games – seven at home – over the next 22 days. Aside from an 85-minute flight to Salt Lake City next week, the Warriors never leave the Pacific Time zone.

Above all, the return of Draymond Green on Monday for the game against Minnesota gives the Warriors the benefit of good overall health.

“We’re starting to play a little better,” Green says. “We’re getting healthy. We’re (at home) for the rest of the month, except two games. So it’s a good time for us to make a run.”

Finding a rhythm during the holidays is almost an annual tradition since Steve Kerr became coach in 2014.

It was around this time last year that the Warriors – mostly on the road and mostly without Stephen Curry – compiled a season-high 11-game win streak that on Dec. 22 put them at 26-6, resulting in their highest win percentage (.813) of the season.

The previous season’s zenith came in November, which they closed out by winning 12 in a row. In 2015-16, a 24-0 start allowed the Warriors to run away from the league and get to an NBA-record 73 wins. In Kerr’s first season, 2014-15, a 16-game streak spanning mid-November to mid-December took them from 5-2 to 21-2.

Following a 10-1 opening with an 8-8 stretch, the Warriors enter Monday at 18-9 (.667 percentage), tied with Oklahoma City for the best record in the Western Conference. OKC won 10 of 11 earlier this season. Denver recently had a seven-gamer snapped. The Clippers had an 11-2 stretch, the Grizzlies a 7-1 stretch, the Lakers a 7-1 stretch and then a 5-1 stretch.

Less than a month ago, the Trail Blazers were atop the conference for brief period.

The Mavericks, for crying out loud, have won 10 of 13.

“A lot of teams have made their runs,” Green says. “We kind of started off hot, and then we hit this rough patch. But that’s OK. It’s a good time for us to make run, close out this calendar year strong and go into the New Year rolling.”

Stephen Curry is back and still lighting it up. Kevin Durant has emerged, with a vengeance, from four catatonic performances, punishing defenders by averaging 32.8 points on 52.3-percent shooting over the past nine games. After a wretched start, with one notable exception, Klay Thompson is shooting triples at his customary rate: 41.3 percent over the last nine games.

Kevon Looney is been solid in the middle and the bench is confident, well-defined and productive.

And one game after the Warriors played playoff-intensity defense in a win at Milwaukee, here comes Draymond, with DeMarcus Cousins only weeks away.

“With Draymond coming back, it allows us to get back to where we’re most comfortable,” Kerr says. “Which is with the ball really moving, our shooters screening for each other, trying to cause havoc off the ball, force tough decisions from the defense and more transition.”

The circumstances are in their favor. After the revived Timberwolves (13-13 after a 3-8 start) come the Raptors (21-7), who own the best record in the league. Following a trip to Sacramento (13-12), the Warriors get Memphis (15-10), Utah (13-14 but dangerous), Dallas (13-11) and the Clippers (16-9).

All this before LeBron James and the Lakers (16-10) come to Oracle Arena on Christmas Day, after which the Warriors play Portland (15-11) twice in two days before the month ends, mercifully, on New Year’s Eve in Phoenix (4-22).

With the ridiculous amount of cannibalism anticipated in the West, it’s conceivable that no team in the conference will win 80 percent of its games or approach 65 wins.

If there is one team with the goods to do it, it’s the Warriors – particularly if they play as they generally do in the weeks before the next calendar year. -30-

DeMarcus Cousins to practice with Santa Cruz Warriors starting Monday

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USATSI

DeMarcus Cousins to practice with Santa Cruz Warriors starting Monday

OAKLAND — The rehabilitation of DeMarcus Cousins enters its final phase this week, probably as soon as Monday.

He’s going to Santa Cruz to get in a few intensified practices with the G League Warriors, who aren’t scheduled to play a game until Friday.

Cousins has spent the past 10 months recovering and rehabbing after having surgery in January to repair a ruptured left Achilles tendon. He has spent the past several weeks participating in practices and scrimmages with the NBA Warriors.

The decision to send Cousins to the G League is based mostly on conditioning. He’ll endure more challenging in-season work in Santa Cruz than he would in the NBA.

His biggest adjustment, according to teammate Draymond Green, will be maintaining the pace at which the NBA Warriors like to play.

“Two things: It is a completely different pace than he’s ever played since he’s been in the NBA, and he’s coming off an Achilles injury doing it,” Green said Sunday. “That’s tough.

“Nonetheless, DeMarcus is one of greatest talents in this league. So we’re not going to play at some pace that he can’t play at and make him irrelevant to our offense. We’re going to make it work.”

[RELATED: Why Draymond is the unique fizz that makes the Warriors sparkle]

Though Cousins can anticipate shuttling between Santa Cruz and Oakland this week, it’s expected that he will be with the NBA team this weekend. The Warriors will face his former team, the Kings, on Friday night in Sacramento.

The possibility of Cousins actually playing in a G League game is unlikely, according to one source, while another says it has not been completely ruled out.