How Draymond Green's teaching style, Kevon Looney's role impact Warriors

How Draymond Green's teaching style, Kevon Looney's role impact Warriors

Editor’s note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors reporter, will take you inside the Dubs as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter using the hashtag #askkerith


It’s the first #askKerith mailbag of the season! I appreciated your thoughtful questions and observations last season.

Tonight, the Warriors will play their last preseason game. Pessimistic folks will say hooray, a fourth opportunity to lose to the Lakers! But the preseason is about participating, not playing to win. It’s a time where teams focus on themselves to try new looks, build chemistry and figure out weak spots.

The Warriors are undersized. It’s a shame Kevon Looney (hamstring) and WIllie Cauley-Stein (foot) have been unable to play. Rebounds have been a trouble spot, which is part size, part effort. They’re fouling too much.

Growing pains will happen. Now is the time to experience it. There’s been some impressive play, too. Marquese Chriss anyone?

I’ll see you tonight at Chase Center, and let’s start the year with a jumbo-sized mailbag.

Game On!

@stagedarren Any change in Draymond’s practice demeanor this season? With all the youth and inexperience has he taken on a more serious/ teacher’s mood?

Draymond is still Draymond, and he’s embracing a teaching role as he has in seasons past. He has acknowledged there’s a different feeling this season. The first week of the preseason featured two-and-a-half-hour practices because of all the stops and starts to help the new players.

I like listening to Draymond discuss his teaching style. A lot of people think of firey passion, but that doesn’t mean he’s yelling at people indiscriminately. There’s a patience to him that should be recognized. He’s serious about helping his teammates get better, and that means giving them the space to make mistakes. Draymond said there’s a longer leash this time of year to allow people to learn. The leash will tighten when appropriate.

One of the favorite things he said this preseason regarded tough love and how it’s not time for that. There’s not enough familiarity. I’m paraphrasing, but Draymond basically explained, “How are you going to give a guy tough love when you don’t know if you love him yet?”

@shanetrey5 What are some of the impacts during games and over the course of the season do you think we’ll be seeing as Kevon Looney continues to rise and step into a bigger role for the team? Also, what was the best thing you watched this summer? For me it was Unbelievable on netflix.

It was great to see Looney return to the Warriors, on a three-year deal. They need his big body and his workman’s attitude on both ends of the floor.

This season, Steve Kerr wants Looney to play more minutes and shoot more threes. No pun intended, that’s a tall task, but he’s up for it. If Loon is a scoring threat from the perimeter, defenders can’t sag off him. That spaces the floor.

I asked Looney about taking on more this season, and I already knew what his answer would be: “Anything to help my team.” He’s smart. He sees the way the center position is evolving in the NBA. Three-point shooting is part of the toolbox now.

Looney also is amenable to coming off the bench or starting. He's a reliable teammate and a low-key guy in the locker room. Perfect combo. It’s a bummer Looney didn’t see any action this preseason with a hamstring tweak. Steve Kerr said he hopes Looney is ready for opening night against the Clippers on Oct. 24.

As for what I watched this summer, I fell in love with Fleabag.

@kelcatinc Any update on Willie Cauley-Stein? Haven't really seen much of him, curious how he fits in with Dubs. Thanks.

For anyone who needs a refresher, Willie Cauley-Stein hurt his left foot while playing pickup. He entered training camp in a walking boot. I doubt there will be an update on his foot until the end of the month.

This injury will no doubt set WCS back. It takes players about two to three weeks to get their conditioning up during the preseason. WCS is missing all of that. Keep this in mind for Looney, too.

WCS also has to acclamate to a new offense. Yes, he can study the X’s and O’s, but learning by doing is best. I think he’ll be great for the Warriors, but give him some patience when he returns. An injury at the start of the season with a new team is tough.

@tc_oketch What is @zaza27’s new role? What are the chances that he’ll suit up if we need him to? #AskKerith

Zaza Pachulia is a consultant for team operations on both the business and basketball sides. After nearly 1,100 career games played for six teams, Zaza has some wisdom to share.

Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston are not in the locker room this season, so the Warriors lost some leadership. Just having Zaza around as a voice is beneficial. He can speak up when he sees the need, or stay in the background until a young player or a coach comes to him for his perspective.

Teams find a way to take care of their own. This role for Zaza indicates how much the Warriors like him.

@renegadegabe How are the new faces liking the Warriors culture and atmosphere?

When I did a tour of the players’ areas at Chase Center with Eric Paschall, it was clear he was thrilled about getting his career started with the Warriors. At the practice facility, there are large pictures on the wall above the court, capturing the best of Warriors history. Al Attles is on the wall. Run TMC. Baron Davis’ dunk. Championship photos.

Paschall remembers watching Run TMC as a young player. He was at Villanova when the Warriors were winning three championships in four years, so the memories are fresh. Now he gets to begin his pro career with this team, in these brand-new facilities? There’s an awe factor.

The young guys know the Warriors built a dynasty. It’s special to be around that. They’re learning what it would take to sustain the dynasty. They’re excited they get to start the season in this environment.

Young guys also know the Warriors don’t see the G-League as a punishment or a dumping ground. Everyone in the NBA knows Quinn Cook’s story by now. The Warriors give young players space to grow. Whether it’s their time to be with the big club or go to Santa Cruz to develop, the young players see this organization is a healthy place. There’s freshness, thankfulness and readiness in the air.

@HeyImDion how are YOU getting used to the new facilities and different pathways to the court?

@regEreg Where do you now sit during the games? I remember you sitting in some small area under the seats at Oracle.

@AnneHarr13 Do you still have a cubbyhole near the court?

@lorieforshay I know it’s still the preseason but is the vibe different in the new arena?

@billylikesrice IS there anything notable or interesting about the move to Chase Center that directly affects/changes your job?

I sit at a table in the Warriors’ tunnel by their bench during games. I love it! It’s a nice change from my under-the-bleachers location at Oracle Arena, where peanut shells, soda and cell phones would fall into my workspace. The new location is not as cold either.

The Warriors and I made the best of the situation of Oracle because there wasn’t much space, but they were so kind with my new spot. I have easy access to the bench and my reporting spots on the court. I’m happy and grateful they kept me in mind.

I live in San Francisco, so my commute to games is trimmed by 40 minutes. I realize I’m one of the lucky ones. No more crossing the bridge or feeling frustrated in traffic.

Chase Center is beautiful. You can tell this building was specifically made for basketball. The sightlines are good. The light is perfected. The ceiling is low, and the arena feels intimate. I don’t have a read on the vibe yet because it’s only the preseason. When fan patterns become clearer and the usual faces are in their seats for every game, I think the vibe will reveal itself.

My one joke lately is, for a building that’s a circle, there sure are a lot of hallways. Getting around Chase Center still is coming together for me in terms of Point A to Point B. It’s fun to explore new things. Don’t worry -- the fan spaces at Chase are easy to navigate!

@andreasxgarcia What’s your favorite piece of jewelry you wore on a broadcast?

I have a necklace I wore to my wedding that I wear with V-neck dresses when I report, and putting it on takes me back to the beach where we got married.

High Five

I got a question from @adamski_38 about where to find the best cheeseburger in town when he visits from London in 2020. Of course I’m going to help a guy whose bio reads, “Ribs, cheeseburgers and basketball.”

I took the question to Twitter, and the responses poured in for recommendations all over the Bay Area. Click here to scroll through the replies:

Some of the top replies were TrueBurger, Red’s, the Telegraph Beer Garden, and of course, In-N-Out.

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

R.J. Hampton, LaMelo Ball making case to be Warriors' draft selection

R.J. Hampton, LaMelo Ball making case to be Warriors' draft selection

The Warriors are going to have a very high draft pick. That much seems obvious. What's less obvious is which prospects they might be zeroing in on as the missing piece of Golden State's next championship pursuit.

Some prospects like Memphis' James Wiseman, Georgia's Anthony Edwards and North Carolina's Cole Anthony are all stateside -- Golden State doesn't have to send scouts very far to get a glimpse of any of them.

Two other highly-rated prospects, however, require a far greater trek to evaluate them in person, as 18-year-olds LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton currently play in the NBL, Australia's top basketball league. Both players elected to go overseas for their final year of basketball before entering the NBA draft, rather than enroll in a collegiate program or join the G League.

Liam Santamaria is a writer and broadcaster for the NBL, and whereas the Warriors likely haven't had a ton of opportunities to see Ball and Hampton firsthand, Santamaria has had no such issues. So far, he has been blown away by what he has seen from the two young prospects.

"I've been not just impressed with the way they've played and the improvement that they've shown in their game over the course of the season thus far in Australia," Santamaria told NBC Sports Bay Area, "but also just how they've handled themselves on the court with their teammates, in the heat of battle in a professional situation like this."

The two phenoms currently find themselves in quite different scenarios. Ball, playing for the Illawarra Hawks, has far less talent around him than Hampton does on the New Zealand Breakers, where he plays alongside the likes of former NBA players, McDonald's All-Americans and foreign league MVPs. Consequently, Ball fittingly has the rock in his hands more often than Hampton does, which helps explains why Ball's stats are so comparatively eye-popping.

"While he hasn't been putting up the same kind of stat sheet-stuffing performances as LaMelo, I think he's actually been equally as impressive," Santamaria said of Hampton.

Both Ball and Hampton project as guards at the NBA level, but they're different kinds of players.

Ball has a knack for highlight-reel plays, but still needs to round out his game.

"He's obviously a phenomenally talented playmaker, and his feel for the game is incredible," Santamaria described Ball. "And we knew that coming in, but his game still is for the most part pretty raw."

Specifically, Ball's shooting mechanics and defense remain works in progress.

"When he arrived here in Australia and started playing, it looked like he'd never really been taught much of anything about how to defend," Santamaria recalled. "The fundamentals of 1-on-1 containment defense, but also fundamental concepts of playing defense off the ball, five guys defending as one ... just team defensive concepts. And that for me is the area that I think has probably undergone the most rapid improvement because he was almost nonexistent as a defender when he first stepped on Australian shores. Now you can see him taking some big strides in that regard. He's much more engaged at that end of the floor."

Hampton, on the other hand, is more refined at this stage of his young career and has what Santamaria described as better fundamentals than Ball currently possesses. 

"R.J. looks to me like he's a sure-fire certain thing, in terms of panning out to be a really productive pro," Santamaria summarized. "He has a great combination of size, length, athleticism, explosive quickness and basketball IQ."

As Ball and Hampton go through the draft process, they inevitably will be compared to other NBA stars, past and present. Santamaria has already begun that process.

"There's an element of Jason Kidd, for me," he said of Ball's comparison. "Where he just looks like he's got that thing on a string and makes those passes and plays look so easy." 

Santamaria added that Ball particularly reminds him of Kidd when handling the ball in the open court. Ironically, his comparison for Hampton involved another guard who has proven to be exceptional in the open court.

"He doesn't have the kind of strength and the kind of muscular frame yet that [Russell] Westbrook has, but when he gets that ball in the backcourt and starts pounding it, his head's on a swivel offensively and he's super quick attacking, putting heat on the rim," Santamaria said of Hampton. "In those situations, I see elements of Westbrook in his game. If he can become a little stronger and bounce off physicality like Westbrook does, I think that comparison might become more obvious over time."

As such, if the Warriors choose to draft another guard -- which seems unlikely, considering the presence of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, not to mention D'Angelo Russell -- it would appear they have a couple of fantastic prospects to choose from. If they come anywhere close to living up to Santamaria's lofty comparisons, they almost assuredly will have been worth the high draft selection.

[RELATED: Top NBA draft prospect LaMelo Ball is a big fan of Steph]

So, if push comes to shove, which one should the Warriors choose?

In formulating his answer, Santamaria mentioned yet another NBA MVP.

"Well, Bob Myers -- it depends if he's ready to swing for the fences, because LaMelo Ball is that swing-for-the-fences pick," he said. "Somebody's going to be brave enough to do it. I'm certainly not going to say he's going to be an NBA MVP at any point, but Giannis Antetokounmpo was a swing-for-the-fences pick a few years ago that a lot of teams decided they didn't want to or didn't have the courage to take. The Bucks did, and they have reaped the rewards. I think LaMelo Ball is going to fall into that category a little bit as well.

"If Myers and the organization have the courage to swing that bat, then he could very well be a home run."

The Warriors have long been expected to pursue Antetokounmpo if and when he hits free agency. There's no one quite like the Greek Freak, but perhaps Golden State ends up with its own version of him.

Warriors follow Draymond Green's lead in willing team to win vs. Bulls

Warriors follow Draymond Green's lead in willing team to win vs. Bulls

Throughout his career, Draymond Green simultaneously has been Golden State's emotional leader and one of its best players. 

On teams featuring Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, Green consistently was the team's emotional heartbeat, occasionally willing his squads to unforeseen victories in standout performances that didn't necessarily reflect on the stat sheet. 

The latest example of Green's impact came in the last 12 minutes of Friday's 100-98 win over the Bulls, when he passed, defended and guided the Warriors to their fifth win of the season. 

A glimpse of Green's impact came four seconds before the final frame began when Golden State coach Steve Kerr substituted Green for Jordan Poole. On the next play, Green switched onto Bulls guard Coby White, forcing an off-balance miss. Four minutes into the fourth quarter -- with Golden State down 89-84 -- he successfully contested a Tomas Satoransky jump shot, leading to a fastbreak opportunity. Four minutes later, Green received a pass from guard D'Angelo Russell, drove the lane and found center Willie Cauley Stein for a dunk. With a minute left and the game tied at 98, he found Glenn Robinson III for another lob dunk to help seal the victory. 

Green -- who finished with nine points, five rebounds and four steals -- was responsible for 10 of the team's 23 fourth-quarter points, helping the Warriors outscore Chicago by eight points in the final frame. 

"Our defensive pressure picked up," Green explained after the win. "I think down the stretch in games, you have to do that. There have been games this year where teams have put pressure on us and we didn't respond well. I think tonight we were the aggressors and it worked out in our favor."

"He made great plays down the stretch," Robinson said of Green. "He got down on the floor for loose balls. He got us going, his talk, his communication. You always want a player like that the floor, directing things."

Green's performance came at a particular time of peril for Golden State. With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson out of the lineup, the Warriors are one of the league's worst teams. In their last four games entering Friday night, they had been outscored by 61 points, including a 106-91 blowout loss to Charlotte on Wednesday. 

[RELATED: Sources: Steph has surgery to remove pins from hand]

Worse, Green's play has followed suit. Over his previous nine appearances, he had shot just 38.5 percent from the field while dealing with a myriad of injuries. On Friday, both he and his team found their stride. 

"We played the whole game hard," Warriors forward Eric Paschall said. "I felt like as a team, that's a big step for us after the last two games. We felt like we didn't compete at a high level. I felt like it was real good for us just in terms of coming out with a win."

Golden State's season has been new territory for Green. Since entering the NBA, he has never missed the playoffs, but with the Warriors' star-studded cast out for an extended time, that streak is expected to end. That makes Friday's act of leadership all the more important going forward.