Warriors

Ask Kerith: Is Steph doing everything sustainable for Warriors?

Warriors

Happy New Year and welcome to the first Ask Kerith mailbag of 2021.

Heading into Monday night's game against the Kings, the Warriors are 3-3 after a record-setting 62-point performance from Steph Curry on Sunday.

These fans chimed in after the first game against the Blazers, when things felt more dire. But let’s talk about a simplified offense with high screens, a spaced floor, and the ball in Steph’s hands more. Long term, he can work his magic as a shooter only if the whole team is comfortable. The Warriors have more growth ahead. 

Last night’s win was extraordinary fun, and I hate writing “but” after that statement. But! Steph is unfamiliar with who is playing beside him. Teammates must discover how to read him. Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr. are new. James Wiseman is a rookie. Draymond’s season was set back when he missed the preseason and the first four games. Klay Thompson is hurt. Kevon Looney may not be his old self. Eric Paschall has a new role. Jordan Poole needs a role. 

Each player deserves a natural adjustment period as a season begins. No one is perfectly in sync yet, although it felt great to see the Warriors’ potential when they responded aggressively in the second game against the Blazers. No matter how much you simplify an offense, defense must be a strong component to secure wins. 

 

Steph has led every game in scoring. He sometimes leads in assists and rebounds too. There’s another tightrope to walk. You want the ball in the hands of your best player - Steph attempted 31 field goals! - but he cannot be the only fountain of offense.

Steph doing everything is not a sustainable situation when he’s double or triple-teamed. He can erupt for monster games occasionally, but the attention Steph gets from defenses will beat him up this season. That’s concerning. 

The simple things will help the Warriors, like time and defense. Let’s revisit this after 15-20 games when the team’s identity has shaped up.

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What are the Warriors plans for the 9 mil injured player exception they got for Klay? (via IG)

I understand the urgency fans feel to get a shooter who can help the offense. But who? All teams are going through their adjustment period. It’ll be hard to find a team that wants a trade at this point in the season, and the best free agents were scooped up long ago.

It is tough to be patient, and NBC Sports Bay Area’s Brian Witt identified five potential Disabled Player Exception targets. The DPE must be used this season if at all, and it’s worth $9.3 million.

Hat tip to Warriors Insider Monte Poole for some reminders: If the Warriors use the DPE, they’d have to cut someone from their 15-man roster, and there are no salary cap impacts. It’s basically a rental. 

How quickly (some) fans turned on Draymond! I deeply doubt the Warriors will trade him.

Draymond Green has been the Warriors’ assists leader in four of the last five seasons, and the anchor on defense. He is also the voice in the locker room that’s unignorable when players are tired of hearing from the coaches. He has the authority to bark at teammates. Steph is a leader in his own way, but Draymond will get confrontational if he has to. He manages the emotions of the team. He is the heartbeat. When the going gets tough, that’s precisely when you need Draymond.

I agree with coach Steve Kerr that the Warriors’ championship banners do not hang without Dray. 

Last night, Draymond attempted two field goals, had one point, 8 assists, three rounds, a block, and a steal. He was plus-22. The cliche is heart and hustle don’t show up on a box score. Draymond does not need to score to have a successful night. 

His contract reflects his importance during the dynasty. He took a pay cut to bring Kevin Durant to Golden State. Don’t mess with his money a second time. He’s also getting paid for the physical demands of the game. Ask Draymond to be an undersized center and guard bulky seven-footers? The postgame ice packs feel better with millions in the bank. There’s always a price. 

 

I dislike giving predictions because 1) injuries can change everything and 2) I’m often wrong, ha. I get emotional with my predictions, saying what I hope for instead of what’s realistic. 

But I suppose predictions are part of the job.

I think the Warriors will be a .500 team if Steph is healthy. Like I said earlier in the mailbag, I’m concerned about how much Steph will have to endure physically this season. 

Is .500 good enough to be a playoff team in the West? Probably. The new play-in tournament for the No.7 through No. 10 seeds in the standings should give the Warriors a chance.

RELATED: Steph gives critics 62 responses in Warriors' win

Do you only go to home games, and will you be doing any sideline reporting at home games? (via IG)

I cover every Warriors game that airs on NBC Sports Bay Area, home or away. I help with every national game too.

This season is different for me. I’m no longer traveling to road games, nor can I be at Chase Center due to my company’s COVID-19 policies and guidance from the NBA. It’s all in the interest of safety. That’s why I have not been conducting the postgame interviews on the court like I did in previous seasons.

However, there’s a good plan in place between the NBA and reporters to get access to players via Zoom during a time when we must be socially distant. The Warriors are especially helpful with access, making players and coaches available for one-on-one chats over video. 

You’ll see my interviews and live analysis during NBC Sports Bay Area’s pregame and postgame shows. I’m still writing for the website. My workplace has some special social media things planned, and other projects in the works. My role is evolving to execute the job during a pandemic. So far, so good!