How Warriors are paying steep price today for promise of better tomorrow


How Warriors are paying steep price today for promise of better tomorrow

SAN FRANCISCO -- The path to the NBA draft lottery is all quicksand, mile after dark mile of it, with long days that often feel pointless and tedious nights that siphon the spirit.

That’s where the Warriors are. It’s how they are living.

It’s one thing to believe everything will improve dramatically in the future, quite another to consistently leave the court with the unsatisfying feeling that comes with a nine-game losing streak over a 17-day period in that languid period -- often referred to as the dog days -- between the holidays and the All-Star break.

“I can’t say we enjoy it right now, because losing is not fun,” rookie Eric Paschall said Tuesday night after the Warriors absorbed a 124-97 beatdown from the Dallas Mavericks.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr feels it as much as anyone with the possible exception of Draymond Green. Kerr won as a player in Chicago. Won as a player in San Antonio. Won as a first-time NBA coach, with the Warriors.

This is ... brutal.

“The losing part is the hardest part,” Kerr said. “I mean, you can pick apart the details. The defense tonight, we struggled to get stops. But we’re also playing the No. 1 offense in the league and they’ve been a tough matchup for us this year.

“What I don’t like is just the feeling of things snowballing on us. We’ve been competitive for the most part this year. Right now, we’re in a tailspin and we’ve got to stop it.”

There has been considerable regression over the past couple of games. The Warriors were rudderless while being blown out by the impetuous Grizzlies, 122-102, Sunday in Memphis. And they often were flat on Tuesday at Chase Center.

Green, so often the emotional center of the team, flashes his trademark energy only occasionally. This is the first losing season of his eight-year career. And the toll it is taking is visible. He snagged three rebounds in 27 minutes Tuesday, bringing his total over the last four games to nine -- a number he exceeded 16 times last regular season.

With nothing at stake, Draymond is not Draymond. Can’t be that guy we’ve seen demolishing opposing offenses and lighting a flame beneath his teammates.

Then there is Willie Cauley-Stein, the 7-foot center who came over from Sacramento seeking not only a new environment but also a new experience. He’s 1-for-2.

“It’s a different circumstance,” he said, referring to four losing seasons with the Kings. “We’re building and just weathering storms. This is coming out of left field. Over there, you kind of knew what was going on.

“So, it’s about being a professional. Even though it’s not going well, we still show up to work and try to get better. Just keep on working on your stuff because it’s going to get better eventually. I mean, we’re at the bottom. It’s only going to go up.”

This is a franchise that, four years ago, lost nine games over the course of an entire season. Their 9-33 record explains the terse look on Kerr’s face, the agitation in the voice of CEO Joe Lacob, who late Tuesday night said he “hates this feeling.”

It explains Kerr’s plea for Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the sidelined All-Stars, to spend as much time as they can around this season. Neither will play anytime soon, but seeing their faces amounts to a glimpse of the future.

That’s where the Warriors are, and all coping mechanisms are being summoned.

“Even though we’re losing these games, it’s not life or death,” Paschall said. “It’s not the end of the world. We still get to go out there and play basketball.

“But, it’s not fun losing at all.”

[RELATED: Warriors' Evans elbowed in face, goes to hospital for tests]

The rookie has perspective. Most of the Warriors have it. All of them need it to endure a season such as this.

Owning the worst record in the league is an exorbitant price to pay today for a better tomorrow, and the Warriors are paying it in every way. Losses are piling up. There is no joy.

And no way of knowing when there might be.

NBA rumors: Warriors' Steph Curry targeting March 1 return to lineup

NBA rumors: Warriors' Steph Curry targeting March 1 return to lineup

Steph Curry reportedly is targeting a March 1 return. 

The two-time MVP has not played since breaking his left hand on Oct. 30, and The Athletic's Marcus Thompson has "been told" that Curry hopes to play on March 1 at Chase Center against the Washington Wizards, though the date is not "set in stone."

Curry told Warriors broadcasters Bob Fitzgerald and Kelenna Azubuike during Golden State's win over the Orlando Magic on Saturday that he has had "no setbacks" rehabbing his broken hand. 

"Rehab is going great, every day is tough,” Curry said Saturday. “When you're hurt, and we've all been there in some way shape or form, its a grind, every day kind of being monotonous with the little strength workouts you have to do, and you understanding that it takes time and patience to get back to 100 percent.”

[RELATED: Poole shows even more progress in Dubs' win over Magic]

Curry is traveling to road games with the Warriors, and the 30-year-old has impressed his teammates and coaches during individual shooting drills. Warriors coach Steve Kerr told the "Posted Up" podcast earlier this month that there was an "excellent chance" Curry would return in March. He'll be re-evaluated Feb. 1, and NBC Sports Bay Area's Kerith Burke wrote last week that a minutes restriction is possible as Curry "gets his wind back."

Before Curry is re-evaluated, though, he reportedly already has a timeline in mind. 

Warriors' Jordan Poole showing more progress after bad start to season

Warriors' Jordan Poole showing more progress after bad start to season

SAN FRANCISCO -- With four seconds left in the third quarter of the Warriors' 190-95 win over Magic on Saturday, Jordan Poole ran full speed to the right-wing with a bucket on his mind. 

Sprinting alongside teammate Omari Spellman, Poole received a pass from the big man, pump faked, took a dribble and drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer, pushing the Warriors lead to 11. 

Walking to the bench, Poole had both arms in the air, and was yelling "Yeahhhh" towards the crowd. Similar plays have been the norm for Poole over the last week as he gradually digs himself out a bad start to his rookie season. 

"He's starting to figure out where his spots are," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "Where his spots are and his comfort zone and how to impact a game." 

Remnants of Poole's improvement were on display early Saturday night. After Golden State went down 13-0 four and a half minutes into the contest, Poole scored 11 first-quarter points, helping Golden State take a 28-25 lead by the end of the period. Poole totaled 21 points for the game, including four 3-pointers, providing another example of his evolution. In his past three outings, Poole is averaging 16 points on 45 percent from the field. 

Such stretches are uncommon considering the start of Poole's career. During his first 29 games -- with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson out of the lineup -- he shot just 25 percent, prompting a demotion to the G League. While his shot was ineffective, it was his propensity to not give all-out effort that drew ire of the coaching staff. On his way down to Santa Cruz, Kerr gave him a player that he'd like Poole to use a blueprint for success: Pelicans guard JJ Redick. More specifically, the shooter's habit of constant movement on the defensive end, complimented by his shooting ability. 

Poole followed suit during his G League stint, averaging 26 points, 5.3 assists and 1.3 steals in three games. The performance has carried over back to the NBA, as he's making 42 percent of his 3-pointers over his last three games. But he showed his  growth six minutes into the third quarter Saturday, when he fought through two screens, moved his feet on Magic guard Evan Fournier before stripping the guard, causing a fast break on the other end, prompting praise from his coach and teammates along the way.  

"He's doing better on defense, handling the ball and making plays," Kerr said. "The game is so fast at this level. Everything happens much faster, so whether you are defending somebody or having to get over a screen or leave a rotation or if you have the ball and you are trying to make a pass, everything just happens quicker than you are used to. I think the time in Santa Cruz helped him gain more confidence and maybe the game has slowed down a bit ... He just looks more confident and comfortable."

"I think his approach has been better," teammate D'Angelo Russell added. "I think that's what's contributed to him successfully on the court. Not just worrying about his shots but his demeanor, his approach is business-like."

Poole's progression comes as the Warriors are in transition. As he works towards a long-term role, organizational cornerstones Curry and Thompson are working their way back from injuries, while Russell -- an All-Star guard -- is giving 20-year old daily lessons on how to be a pro.

[RELATED: Paschall regains form after tough stretch]

"I'm like a kid in the candy store, especially being able to have Steph, Klay and [Russell]," Poole said on Warriors Postgame Live. "I'm in awe every day. You wouldn't want to be in any other situation." 

As Poole celebrated his buzzer-beater, Curry sat on a makeshift stage, soaking in the rookie's latest step as a pro, leaving compliments along the way. 

"The way that he's fought through his early-season struggles and gone down to Santa Cruz, really able to work on his game, see the floor, get his rhythm and shoot the ball the way he's been doing the last few games," Curry said during NBC Sports Bay Area's broadcast. "That's what an NBA player is made of. It's not going to be pretty but you got to keep coming back to try and make it work."