Warriors

ESPN's Jay Williams thinks revamped Warriors will miss NBA playoffs

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ESPN's Jay Williams thinks revamped Warriors will miss NBA playoffs

Chris Webber is not alone.

Much like his "NBA on TNT" peer, ESPN's Jay Williams predicted earlier this week that the Warriors would miss the playoffs. In a segment on the league's most intriguing duos that aired Wednesday on "NBA Countdown," Williams said that D'Angelo Russell and Stephen Curry fit the bill ... because Golden State won't be playing in the postseason?

"The Golden State Warriors -- mark down the day -- they are not going to make the playoffs," Williams said Wednesday. "The Golden State Warriors are not going to make the playoffs, and this is why I say D-Lo and Stephen Curry are the most intriguing duo.

"Now, D-Lo played extremely well last year. He got the Brooklyn Nets to the playoffs. He made the All-Star Game. He wasn't the guy at first, Caris LaVert was the guy. Then D-Lo started to find his swagger. I wonder how D-Lo will do in a system that he cannot dominate the ball."

Curry and Russell's chemistry is still a work in progress. Russell posted the highest usage rate of his career (31.9 percent) last season, and only once in the Steve Kerr era has one of Curry's teammates had a usage rate greater than 30 percent (Kevin Durant in 2017-18).

Williams pointed to Klay Thompson's rehab from a torn ACL as well as Curry and Russell's defensive deficiencies as cause for concern, incorrectly claiming that the team lost defensive guru Ron Adams. Adams remains with the team, but Jarron Collins now runs the Warriors' defense. Williams doesn't think Russell is a fit for Golden State's system, either.

The Warriors will have to discover a new identity on both ends of the floor this season, given what they lost this summer. The Western Conference pecking order has also re-organized, now that Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis are in Los Angeles. Golden State has far more concerns heading into 2019-20 than it has at any point under Kerr.

[RELATED: Kerr shakes head, refuses to respond to Trump's latest jab]

But with all of that said, are there really eight teams in the West better than the Warriors? The Los Angeles Lakers likely will bump out a playoff team from a year ago, but no other team in the conference is guaranteed to do the same. Sure, the Kings and Dallas Mavericks could make the leap, and the New Orleans Pelicans are loaded with young talent after trading Davs to the Lakers and drafting Zion Williamson straight out of a video game Duke. But each of those teams have significant question marks beyond their lack of experience.

The Warriors likely will not reach the heights of title contention this season, but that doesn't mean they're destined for the depths of the draft lottery, either.

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Why Steph Curry's gesture at Oracle Arena finale touched Monta Ellis

Why Steph Curry's gesture at Oracle Arena finale touched Monta Ellis

For the final regular-season game in Oracle Arena history, Warriors star Steph Curry arrived rocking a No. 8 Monta Ellis jersey.

"Obviously, a lot of history that Monta was able to be a part of with the 'We Believe' Warriors era, and when I got here my rookie year, he was that guy," Curry told reporters back on April 7. "And I think for me, in terms of representing him on the last game, it meant a lot because we were in that backcourt together. 

"When he was traded it was a tough time in terms of the transition of the organization and things like that. I wanted to pay, obviously, honor to him in terms of his story, coming out of high school and doing what he was able to do. He was an Oakland fan, Warrior fan. Beloved guy."

Shortly after he got wind of Curry's gesture, Monta reacted on Instagram. But he recently expanded on his feelings.

"The biggest thing that I always wanted to do, like, when I leave this Earth, is know that I impacted somebody in some shape or form, no matter if it was on or off the basketball court," he told Marcus Thompson of The Athletic. "That’s my biggest thing.

"So to hear that from him, man, it just means I did what I was supposed to do. I made an impact on somebody’s life before I left here.”

During the 2009-10 season -- Curry's rookie campaign -- Ellis averaged a career-high 25.5 points per game.

[RELATEDKerr explains why he prefers Thanksgiving over Christmas]

The following year, he racked up 24.1 points and 5.6 assists per contest, while Curry registered 18.6 points and 5.8 assists per night.

Although Monta was disappointed with how the franchise handled his trade to Milwaukee in March 2012, he has nothing but love for Dub Nation.

“That’s my second home,” he told Thompson. “I love Oakland. The fans are like no other. I’ve never seen any other fans in America like Oracle.”

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Why Steve Kerr’s message to enjoy Warriors' dynasty should’ve been heeded

Why Steve Kerr’s message to enjoy Warriors' dynasty should’ve been heeded

Steve Kerr knew this season would be different, how could he not?

Still, even the Warriors head coach couldn't have predicted how drastically different his sixth season in the Bay would be. 

Kevin Durant left to become a Net. Klay Thompson likely will miss the entire season rehabbing his torn ACL. Then, Steph Curry broke his left hand and will be re-evaluated in February and D'Angelo Russell missed nine of the first 21 games with a thumb sprain. This has left Kerr to lead a group of rookies, role players and reclamation projects through the NBA season.

Dynasties aren't built to last. Kerr, a six-time NBA champion as a player and coach, knows that. He knows how fleeting championship runs can be. The Warriors have gone from dreaded bully thirsting for June champagne to a champion laying on the canvas as a 12-month recharge washes over them.

“No,” Kerr laughed when NBC Sports Chicago's K.C. Johnson asked if he thought anyone savored last season's run when he told them to. “It’s human nature to think we’re going to win it again and we’re going to keep going forever. Life changes quickly.

“I talked not only to the media and our fans but to our team. Last year there were several times when I said, ‘This is going to be our best chance to win a championship.’ We’ve got an incredible opportunity that may never come up again. That’s something that’s important for everybody to realize---fans, management, players. It is lightning in a bottle. You can do everything perfectly and you still may not get to where you think you might be.”

The Warriors will be back. That's the plan at least. This season serves as a reboot point. A mere pitstop in a dynasty that has been paused not concluded.

But plans, even those best laid, rarely go as drawn up. Kerr knows that. That's why he implored everyone from Curry to those sitting in the nosebleeds at Oracle Arena to enjoy one of the most impressive runs in NBA history.

You never know when things will come back, and things surely never will be the way they were when Curry and Warriors were pulverizing teams into oblivion en route to five-straight NBA Finals appearances.

That ride, as Kerr predicted, came to an end.

A new one has begun.

[RELATED: Warriors' plan might draw speculation after two inexplicable losses]

The Warriors sit at 4-19. Rookies Eric Paschall and Ky Bowman have played well, as has veteran swingman Glenn Robinson III. But it's unlikely to amount to many wins this season. It's instead about teaching, about growth for next season when a fully loaded Warriors team will enact its vengeance on an NBA that is taking pleasure in pummeling the wounded champions. 

That will be a sweet moment for Kerr and the Warriors, should it come.

Pleasure, in sports and in life is, fleeting. Titles come. Confetti falls. Elation hits. Then, it's on to next year, and one day, before you've blinked, things are different. The run is over and a new course has been charted.

That course is expected to get the Warriors back to the top soon. If it does, expect everyone to heed Kerr's advice and enjoy the ride.