Warriors

How Warriors' improving health will affect focus on player development

How Warriors' improving health will affect focus on player development

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

Tip-Off

The Warriors’ last win came against the Bulls, a little more than a week ago. Tonight, the Warriors will have a chance to end their road trip with a win, or come home 0-5. 

The injuries are beginning to fade. The Warriors got D’Angelo Russell, Kevon Looney and Draymond Green back during this trip. Jacob Evans is a “maybe” to play tonight. Damian Lee is closer to returning as well. The issues that come with playing with eight guys will lessen, and give way to new things to learn -- chemistry with a fuller group, substitution patterns and who plays well next to whom.

Game On! 

@GJohnde What do you think about Omari's performance so far?

Omari Spellman has been excellent. He’s averaging 7.9 points and 5.7 rebounds in 18.6 minutes per game, but his attitude strikes me the most. 

His rookie season in Atlanta did not go well. Logan Murdock took a deep dive with Omari, if you haven’t read it already. It covers his struggles, how that manifested as over-eating and weight gain and how Omari got out of that headspace to reinvent himself with the Warriors. 

What I notice is the high level Omari finds in games. He hustles. He’s tough. He summons aggressiveness inside of himself. I get to see his face up close during games, and he looks like a raging bull, like steam would come out of his nostrils if that were possible. Teammates love to play alongside a guy like Omari. 

When the Warriors were in Atlanta, Steve Kerr mentioned the Dubs did a pre-draft workout with Omari and came away impressed. The Hawks scooped him up, but he’s been on the Warriors’ radar. It’s fun to see him shine on his new team. His upside is promising and we’re getting glimpses of it. 

@WillHar18196474 When Looney and Green both play, which of the remaining big men will likely sacrifice the most minutes?

I understand it’s a “sacrifice” to reduce minutes, but consider how nice it will be to have more bodies available to give guys a chance to catch their breath during games. You already know who has appeared on the injury report, but everyone is dealing with bumps and bruises as they play. Behind the scenes, guys are using heat packs on their knees or a heated back belt to stay loose. 

Kerr explained Looney will play minutes at the four, alongside Willie Cauley-Stein at the five. Loon may also come off the bench, his comfort spot from last season. That means Omari, Marquese Chriss and Draymond Green will feel an impact. The Warriors use their big men in hybrid four-five roles anyway, so this blurring of positions doesn’t feel too jarring. 

The coaches already are monitoring Draymond's minutes, with 25 or so in mind per game. I feel like everyone else will be happy to adjust to suit the team’s needs and get a little relief from heavy minutes when the Dubs were stuck playing with eight men available. 

@emilio_mpen Are the @warriors going to win at least 10 games this season!?

For sure. It won’t be long until the Warriors have everyone available except Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, both out with long-term injuries. Getting D’Angelo back is instant firepower to help the Warriors win the close games they’ve been giving up in the final minutes. Looney will be a stabilizing force as well. 

While the team has been struggling and playing with eight or nine guys, the minutes coming during this hardship will help. Minutes are experience. 

It’s true that moral victories are comforting for only so long. The Warriors need results. It would be frustrating to see the progress on film without the W’s to accompany what players are learning. No one likes to lose, nor do they want to make it a habit. 

@HiiiPowerRevo I’m really interested in the GSW player development branch. Are they going to help the rookies and new draft players extensively this upcoming summer? Also does GSW employ a shooting coach that helps all their players with their shots?

The Warriors have 10 coaches this season, and five of them have “Player Development” in their titles. They are serious about helping this young team learn. 

There’s not one specific shooting coach. Players pair off to watch film and build relationships. For example, Jordan Poole works with Chris DeMarco. Eric Paschall works with Theo Robinson. 

The Warriors will have a lottery pick, but the focus right now is on the talent they have. They’re devoting time and resources to bringing these guys along in their NBA careers. By helping them develop good habits early, with attention and patience, the Warriors will have a youth movement set for the future. 

@tessde every1 asking serious ?s, so I'll go silly, is it my imagination or are the Dubs' shorts getting shorter & tighter each year? 

@debsdavalle #askKerith Is the latest fashion to go towards a short-short look? I think Poole’s are the shortest.

It’s funny to get these questions, and they’re becoming more frequent. Yes, the shorts the young guys are wearing are shorter than the old-school way!

I noticed Jordan Poole cut his warm-up shorts -- yes, cut them with what looked like some jagged scissors -- to make the inseam smaller. Tiny and tight seems to be in fashion.

@TheMisterMann How much of Jim Barnett’s shoes has Kelenna Azubuike been able to fill as the new color commentator this season? 

I think Kelenna has done a fantastic job. I’ve heard Kelenna and Bob Fitzgerald in my ear during broadcasts for 23 games now. Some of the losses have been blowouts, but they still maintain a quality broadcast together. 

Jim Barnett’s playing career began in 1966. His version of the NBA is different than today’s game. Kelenna’s career ended in 2012, so some of the players he faced are still in the league. I like hearing that insight. That’s not a knock on Jim, I’m just saying it’s a different conversation. 

This is Kelenna’s rookie season in the role, but he built up his experience as a broadcaster in studio, on other networks and on the radio. He’s ready for this moment. It’s not easy to be the new guy and follow a legend like Jim, but Kelenna’s personality shines, too. 

@evenstrongerps4 What can u say about Klay's performance as a sideline reporter? #SidelineReporterKlay #HeadbandKerith #AskKerith

@DavidGrisar Now that Klay is firmly established as a Media member, does he even need to bother rehabbing?

It was my pleasure to give the mic to Klay Thompson, who was as entertaining and insightful as we thought he would be. What a great night. He truly surprised me by snatching the mic postgame to interview Omari! 

I think Klay was serious when he said in 10 years, he’d try his hand in broadcasting. He joked around with Bob and Kelenna about doing their jobs. Like father, like son maybe. Klay’s dad is a radio broadcaster for the Lakers.

Whatever Klay wants to do, he’ll be successful at it. He’ll continue his rehab knowing broadcasting is a fallback career!

High Five

This week’s high five goes out to Steve Kerr, who came on the Runnin’ Plays podcast with Logan Murdock and I. We didn’t want to ask Steve the same old questions. Topics included why he’s a Scrooge at Christmas, visiting the pyramids, what makes him sentimental, being a ballboy at UCLA and his definition of an ally. 

My favorite parts of this interview include the moment he knew, at age five, basketball was going to be his path, and which game during the playoffs made him cry by himself in the locker room. Give it a listen here, or search “Runnin’ Plays” on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen to podcasts.

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

How do Warriors' current injury woes compare to other teams, seasons?

ask_kerith_toyota_web.jpg
NBC Sports Bay Area

How do Warriors' current injury woes compare to other teams, seasons?

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 or Instagram using the hashtag #askKerith.

Tip-Off

Hello everyone! The longest road trip left on the schedule comes next week, after the Warriors face the Pacers tonight. It’s an East Coast swing that will cover Philadelphia Boston, Cleveland, Washington and Brooklyn. After that, three games left until the All-Star Break.

Don’t forget, an update about Steph Curry will come on Feb 1. And we’ll learn more about Klay Thompson’s rehab around the All-Star Break. 

Game On!

@bakumshakum The injuries this year seem so severe. How out of the ordinary is what the Warriors are going through? A lot? Not at all?

Injuries bite every team, but the severity differs in terms of players affected, and how serious the injuries are. 

The Warriors have played 46 games. As of this morning, consider how many games the core Warriors from last season have missed:

Thompson: 46 (ACL rehab)
Curry: 42 (broken hand)
Draymond Green: 13 (heel soreness, finger sprain, rolled ankle, illness, rest)
Kevon Looney: 35 (neuropathy, abdominal soreness)

Other players who have missed at least 10 games are:

D’Angelo Russell: 18 (thumb sprain, ankle sprain, shoulder contusion)
Jacob Evans: 24 (adductor strain, concussion)
Damion Lee: 14 (broken hand)

In total, Warriors players have missed 228 games due to injuries.

This a random comparison but this is what I could find deep in my inbox from last season ... The game notes for Game 3 of the playoff series with the Rockets indicate the Warriors had a total of 181 games missed due to injury. To be at 228 today is eye-popping. 

@CrazyBeauti_Ful Do coaches get time off too? #askKerith

This summer they will. When the Warriors play deep into the playoffs, that flows into the draft, then Summer League. Before they know it, training camp is here. 

This season has a different flavor. The off-season will be longer with no playoffs. 

Coaches also get the All-Star break off. This is the time of year when everyone starts asking, “What are you doing for All-Star?” Plans range from staying at home to catch up on life, or getaways to San Diego, Mexico or Hawaii. 

@AnneHarr13 After half a season of games, do you think Chase Center is beginning to feel like "home" to the players and staff? And how is your workstation location working out?

I think so. It’s a big change even though the arenas are only about 16 miles apart. There’s a bridge to cross to different sides of the Bay. There’s a culture change.

The routine is new for players and coaches. They had to discover the quickest routes to work in San Francisco in unfamiliar traffic patterns. Then they had to familiarize themselves with the building. That means new routines. 

For example, the new locker room has a short flight of stairs to climb before players reach the hallway to jog out to the court. At Oracle, they sprinted from their locker-room door to the arena floor without interruption. There’s no tunnel shot for Steph anymore. 

It takes time. Fans are getting used to the new digs, too. I like to ask visiting sideline reporters what they think of Chase Center. They say it’s beautiful and the newness shines. 

My workstation is nicer at Chase Center. I’m in the Warriors' tunnel, uncovered by bleacher seats. Peanut shells no longer fall on my head. 

@JeffFedorko With Jordan Poole playing good basketball, does it take some of the pressure off the team to make a move to get Bowman on the team and off his two-way deal?

Jordan playing well helps during games, but there’s not the same urgency to make a deal for Ky Bowman as there was for Damion Lee. 

Damion isn’t a rookie, and he paid his dues with the Dubs. He has been patient and a good scorer and rebounder for the team. Bowman is also good for the team as an electric player, but Golden State owns his rights and he can be stashed in the G League for now. The Warriors don’t have any roster spots open, plus they’re hard-capped. 

The Warriors want Bowman around, but his situation with the big club is on pause for now.

@imthatchick1870 Any time limit on when Smiley will return? He’s fun to watch!

The ideal place for Alen Smailagic is the G League, which was the plan all along. Injuries for the big club opened opportunities for Smiley to play. He did well. But Smiley admitted, “I don’t know what I’m doing on the court,” and as charming as that was, it’s true. He plays hard, but a slower environment that matches his level is a better place for him at the moment. 

He’s 19 years old. He was limited at the beginning of the season with an ankle injury. The Warriors can give him plenty of space to grow. He’ll have some brief stints with the Dubs because it’s helpful for him to be around the players, coache and trainers, but expect him to spend most of his time in Santa Cruz until the G League season is over in March.

@ichiro998 Do you wish that Seattle had an NBA team?

Yes, I do. Hearing Clay Bennett's name makes me scowl. While we’re at it, how about a team back in Vancouver, too? 

@The_Regend Which NBA road arena is your favorite? #AskKerith

I’m mad about how Oklahoma City got its team, but the game experience there is positive. The arena workers are markedly different. They’re helpful! They’re polite! This feeling is more about the people than the arena itself, but I like OKC.

I like Toronto, Utah, Boston and New York as well. 

@loganmmurdock Which arena has the best cookies in the league?

Sacramento by far. Do you see these salt flakes? 

@erikquenzer Red Doritos or Blue Doritos?

Red! I like my chips with 100 ingredients and my fingers dusty. 

@notjustinkaiser How was Pullman? #AskKerith

Amazing! Klay Thompson was in his element during his trip back to his alma mater for his jersey retirement ceremony. It was my first time back at school, too, in more than a decade. If you missed the coverage, check it out here

High Five:

This week’s high five goes to Warriors fan Darin, who made me laugh with this question:

@darinbunch Can we do something about the Warriors’ headband and ponytail issue? As a fan with a smallish TV and questionable vision, it’s getting tougher and tougher for me to identify D-Lo, D-Lee and J-Poole #AskKerith

I noticed this headband trio awhile back and asked the people for a nickname for this sweat-banded group. I’d like to thank my mother (my MOTHER!) for coming up with “The Schweddy Ballers.” It’s a play on a classic "Saturday Night Live" sketch you can see here

Hi mom, I love you. 

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

Steph Curry omits LeBron James, Kevin Durant from all-time starting five

Steph Curry omits LeBron James, Kevin Durant from all-time starting five

When Stephen Curry's career is all said and done, there's a good chance many of the current younger generations of NBA fans will include him in their all-time starting five. They have seen the game evolve in front of their very own eyes, and no player was more responsible for that transition than the greatest shooter ever.

But Curry's career isn't over yet. Not even close. And as things currently stand, even he wouldn't include himself in his all-time starting five.

On the most recent episode of Showtime's "All the Smoke" with Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes, Curry was asked which five players he would nominate for that lofty designation, and it's pretty tough to disagree with his selections.

Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Tim Duncan and Shaquille O'Neal? Safe to say that squad would be tough to beat. Of course, if there's one thing that the five-man unit is lacking, it's probably a lack of perimeter shooting. Maybe that's how Curry eventually fits in.

It's worth noting that Curry didn't include LeBron James on his list. Of course, if reported rivalries are to be believed, perhaps that explains the omission. Same goes for Kevin Durant, who recently left Curry out of his top-six hardest players to guard in the league. Are these sour grapes being thrown back and forth?

[RELATED: Steph admits he wanted Knicks to draft him instead of Dubs]

It's certainly possible in the modern NBA, but a far more likely explanation is that James and Durant, like Curry, aren't finished yet.