Warriors

NBA odds: Warriors projected to win 47 games, finish seventh in West

NBA odds: Warriors projected to win 47 games, finish seventh in West

The Warriors have averaged 64.4 wins per season under Steve Kerr. He'll still be at the helm next season, but so much of the roster that played a crucial role in all those victories has been overhauled.

The Finals MVP from each of the Warriors' three championships in the last five seasons is no longer in Golden State. Kevin Durant has departed for Brooklyn, and Andre Iguodala was traded away in a salary dump. Shaun Livingston is gone too, and Klay Thompson will miss a large portion of next season while recovering from a torn ACL.

Naturally, the Warriors aren't expected to be as successful as they have been in every other year of Kerr's tenure. Caesar's Palace released its win projections Thursday, and it has the Dubs taking multiple steps back.

47 wins, seventh-most in the Western Conference behind the Clippers, Jazz, Nuggets, Rockets, Lakers and Trail Blazers, respectively. That would appear to be a fair projection, as the Dubs have lost a substantial amount of talent, but likely not enough to knock them out of the playoffs altogether. It's worth noting that the Warriors' projection is just as close to the fifth-place Lakers as it is to the eighth-place Spurs.

Also worth noting: Along with Iguodala, the Warriors sent a top-20 protected 2020 first-round draft pick to the Grizzlies, meaning that if Golden State's first-round pick falls outside the first 20 selections, it's sent to Memphis. Guess how many regular-season wins the LA Clippers -- who held the No. 20 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft -- had last season?

That would be 48.

[RELATED: League executives were 'surprised' by Warriors' offseason]

47 regular-season wins in 2018 would have tied for the 18th-worst record, meaning a top-20 pick in the 2018 draft. However, the Oklahoma City Thunder won 47 regular-season games in 2017, and ended up with the No. 21 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. So, it's going to be close.

Given the top-20 protected pick, it will be interesting to see how the Warriors approach the final weeks of the regular season. If they're able to lock up a playoff spot well in advance, they might be inclined to coast through the final games to try to ensure they retain their draft pick. On the other hand, if qualifying for the postseason means losing what is a very important asset for the franchise, the Warriors could have a very tough decision on their hands.

Warriors vs. Grizzlies watch guide: Lineups, injuries, player usage

ericpaschallcelebratingap.jpg
AP

Warriors vs. Grizzlies watch guide: Lineups, injuries, player usage

In a battle featuring two teams in different stages of rebuilding, the foundering Warriors face the suddenly resurgent Grizzlies on Tuesday at FedEx Forum in Memphis.

Pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 4 o’clock, with tipoff scheduled for 5:10.

The Warriors (2-12) own the longest losing streak in the NBA this season, seven games, dating back to Nov. 6. It’s their longest string of defeats since April 2012, when they lost eight in a row.

Though the Warriors have not lost a season series to Memphis since 2012-13 (0-3), they have lost at least once at FedEx Forum in 11 consecutive seasons, including each of the last three.

The Grizzlies (5-8), early in a full rebuild, opened the season losing five of their first six games under first-year coach Taylor Jenkins. They are showing signs of improvement, though, going 4-3 since then. They have won three of their last four.

 

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Warriors

F – Eric Paschall F – Draymond Green C – Willie Cauley-Stein G – Glenn Robinson III G – Ky Bowman

Grizzlies

F – Jae Crowder F – Jaren Jackson Jr. C – Jonas Valanciunas G – Dillon Brooks G – Ja Morant

 

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: G Stephen Curry (L hand fracture), G Jacob Evans III (L adductor strain), G Damion Lee (R hand non-displaced fracture), F Kevon Looney (neuropathy), F Alen Smailagic and G Klay Thompson (R ACL rehab) are listed as out.

Grizzlies: G Grayson Allen (L ankle soreness) is listed as out. F Andre Iguodala is not with the team.

 

ROTATION OUTLOOK

Warriors: Whether Warriors coach Steve Kerr stays with the unusual lineup that started Sunday in New Orleans (with Green starting at PG) remains to be seen. The slow start in that game (down 10-2 after three minutes, trailing by as much as 14 in the first half) could force a more conventional approach . . . Undrafted rookie PG, who had 19 points and four assists in 28 minutes off the bench, made a strong case for starting, particularly with fellow rookie Morant at the point for Memphis . . . Though rookie SG Jordan Poole remains mired in a shooting slump, the Warriors are encouraged that it has not affected his defense. The effort is there on that end, and the belief is his shots could start falling any day now . . . Today’s player availability count: Nine.

Grizzlies: Though the team is built around Morant, the overall No. 2 pick in the June draft, rookie SF Brandon Clarke (No. 21 overall) has been terrific off the bench, averaging 12.3 ppg and 21.9 mpg . . . The Grizzlies lead the league in paint points, averaging 55.0 per game, and Valanciunas is a big reason for that. He has scored in double figures in 12 consecutive games. Only two teams are more forgiving in the paint than the Warriors, whose opponents average 51.9 per game . . . Picking up on the ball movement trend, the Grizzlies averaged 29.4 assists over their last seven games . . . They also have made at least 10 triples in each of those seven consecutive games, matching a franchise record.

Officials: Kevin Scott (crew chief), Marat Kogut, Natalie Sago.

How young Warriors are making incremental improvements on defense

warriorsdus.jpg
USATSI

How young Warriors are making incremental improvements on defense

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- For much of the season, Warriors coach Steve Kerr has tried to find the anecdote to his struggling defense. 

The problem has been exasperated in the last month, as seven players have gone done with injuries, eliminating any hope of continuity. However, the undermanned unit has shown improvement over its last two games, giving Kerr hope going forward. 

"As a group, team and coaches have started to figure out what works well for this team and what we need to stay away from," Kerr said Tuesday afternoon. 

Seeds of optimism started in Friday's loss to the Celtics, when the Warriors held the Eastern Conference leaders to just 40 percent from the field, with Boston guard Kemba Walker making just 6 of his 19 shots. Two days later, the Warriors held the battered Pelicans to 41 percent from the field. More importantly, the league's worst interior defense has outscored their opponents 88-80 in the paint over the last two outings. 

For the last five years, the Warriors have used a switch-heavy defense, helping the unit become one of the best in the league. Over the stretch, Golden State finished in the top 10 in defensive rating in four of the five seasons. Now, with Andre Iguodala and Kevin Durant gone -- and both Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney out of the lineup -- the Warriors are giving up nearly 120 points per game. 

"We were just giving up too many easy baskets early in the season," Kerr said. 

The Warriors defensive woes have coincided with its uncommon rash of injuries. The trend started on the eve of training camp, when general manager Bob Myers announced that center Willie Cauley-Stein would miss most of October with a foot strain. Two days later, rookie Alen Smailagic rolled his ankle and Looney strained his hamstring in the same controlled scrimmage. 

In the last month, Curry broke his hand, sidelining the guard until at least February. Two nights later, forward Draymond Green tore a ligament in his left index finger. Last week, two-way guard Damion Lee fractured his hand. All the while, one of the league's most vaunted defense has plummeted to last in the league. 

[RELATED: Bowman must adapt when Warriors are healthy]

However, the team still has shown moments of potential. A few weeks ago, the Warriors held the Charlotte Hornets -- one of the league's best 3-point shooting teams -- to just 17 percent from beyond the arc, taking a brief lead with just over a minute left in regulation. Two nights later, the Warriors beat the Portland Trail Blazers, limiting guard CJ McCollum to just 37 percent from the field. 

Now, as they embark on their latest road trip, Kerr would like to see an improvement in the Warriors' perimeter defense. In Sunday's loss to the Pelicans, his team gave up 18 3-pointers, including six from sharpshooter JJ Redick. Still, for a team prioritizing development over wins at the moment, the defensive improvement is noteworthy.