SAN FRANCISCO -- A season that began with the Warriors having a reasonable chance to nab a bottom-four playoff seed in the Western Conference has devolved into bottomless pit of despair leaving them with only three reasons to plod through the final 23 games.
The first is to witness the return of Stephen Curry and get a glimpse of how much better he can make Andrew Wiggins, Marquese Chriss and, of course, Draymond Green.
That discovery will be made once Curry has found at least a modicum of rhythm, which should take five or six games. But, hey, he’s Stephen Curry, so there is every reason to believe any four teammates, at any given time, will benefit from his presence.
Nobody needs Steph more than Draymond, who even as he mentors some of his young teammates has found no compelling reason to summon the passion that is the foundation of his greatness. Draymond is, at best, tolerating this season, and sometimes not very well.
Curry’s presence will make the serial losing less expected/efficient but a bit more tolerable.
The second reason is to occasionally glance at their record and the standings while the NBA’s worst teams are jockeying for position in the May 19 draft lottery.
The Warriors, at 12-47, go into the weekend with a 4.5-game lead in the race to the bottom. That’s substantial, and it’s likely to expand during the four-game stretch beginning next Tuesday, when the Nuggets come to Chase Center. Denver will be followed by the Raptors, the 76ers and the Clippers.
Of Golden State’s final 21 games, 13 come against probable top-four postseason seeds and four more against teams currently with a firm grip on a postseason berth.
The third and final reason is that paychecks will keep coming, at least for the 12 Warriors holding standard contracts.
Though the members of the 10-man coaching staff will extol the virtues of development, they already have a pretty good idea which players can help them next season and perhaps beyond. They know rookies Eric Paschall and Jordan Poole have something offer. They still believe Ky Bowman can help.
But game after game, they’re navigating a roster composed of, with the exceptions of Kevon Looney and Green, rookies, veterans out to prove they belong in the NBA and guys with G League backgrounds still seeking a place in the league.
The result is lineups that often play as if they are five different guys, from five different gyms, that met five minutes ago.
“We are putting some lineups that haven’t been together all year,” coach Steve Kerr said after the Warriors swallowed a 30-point loss to the Lakers. “Having said that, a lot of careless one-handed passing, crosscourt and right into the defenders’ arms. A lot of plays that just had nothing to do with continuity and everything to do with poor fundamentals.”
It was apparent that Kerr was trying to suppress his internal rage, and he did not succeed.
So I asked the coach who guided the Warriors to the NBA Finals in each of his first five seasons on the sideline, how he managed to stay sane in the face 47 in 59 games and five losing streaks of at least five games – including a 10-gamer that lasted three weeks.
“That’s a loaded question,” Kerr said. “I think, for the most part, our guys have handled this season pretty well under the circumstances. We’ve handled our business well. Our guys have competed, worked hard, the staff has worked hard.
“But it’s frustrating. Everybody is in the business because we are competitors. We love to compete. We’ve had more than our share of winning over the last five years, we recognize that and right now we are taking it on the chin. We understand that is part of life too and we are dealing with it.”
[RELATED: Warriors will keep first-round pick]
That’s where the Warriors are, agonizing over but living with losing. It’s familiar to longtime Warriors fans that remember the 60-loss seasons, the stitched-together rosters and a succession of coaches that often resembled the game of musical chairs.
But it’s painful to those fans that climbed aboard the train five or six years ago. Almost as painful as it is to Kerr and Green, who surely detest every minute of it.