Steph Curry's leadership on display in Warriors' third preseason game

Steph Curry's leadership on display in Warriors' third preseason game

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

It was primarily a starless night in Los Angeles, as Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis and Warriors players Draymond Green and D'Angelo Russell rode the bench. Golden State, led by Steph Curry and a cast of rookies and young players, fell to the Lakers 104-98 in a rather sloppy performance.

Here are some observations from the game:

Steph the leader

Curry has not always been a very vocal leader, but he has been one to lead by example. In the third preseason game last night, he clearly made a point to play some passionate defense. For stars like Curry, traditionally giving maximum effort in the preseason seems unnecessary and sometimes counter-intuitive. But last night, Curry either made the conscious decision to work on his defensive game, or show this young Warriors team how important it is to emphasize defensive effort.

Curry's physical build and offensive greatness have made many over the years take his defense for granted, but at his best -- which includes not reaching and collecting fouls) -- Curry is a stout defender that can hold his own. Last night, he finished the game with two steals and two blocks in just 21 minutes of action.

If the Warriors are going to make a run for the playoffs this year, it'll be important that the team reflects that same defensive mindset.

Lee stands out

Damion Lee did not make a three-pointer in four attempts, which in most cases would mean that he had an ineffective game. However, Lee impressed in many other facets, including finishing 7-for-7 from inside the arc, drawing fouls, collecting nine rebounds and three steals, and finishing the game with a team-high 18 points in just 23 minutes.

If Lee plans to get significant playing time, and perhaps become a permanent fixture on the roster, he will have to continue to show the coaching staff and front office that he can play an all-around game like last night. At the minimum, Lee normally can be a trusted three-point shooter who plays with a high-motor. But if he can keep excelling in other ways, he assuredly will find himself in the Warriors rotation.

Up-and-down McKinnie

Alfonzo McKinnie started the game off in a strong fashion doing what he does best, playing with high-energy and crashing the glass. He even hit a three-pointer on his first attempt shortly after checking into the game in the first quarter. Unfortunately for Zo, his play regressed as the game went along.

Regardless, McKinnie gave a brief reminder of what he can bring to the team that is so desperate for solid small forward play. If the front office plans on adding Marquese Chriss to the roster, they would have to get creative in order to keep McKinnie around.

But if Zo steps up and plays like he did at the start of last night's game, he is going to make it an even tougher decision than it already is. 

Chriss stays hot

Speaking of Marquese Chriss, the former lottery pick yet again played an effective game from the starting center spot. Chriss has made a concerted effort to show he can play down-low and not just drift out to the perimeter, and it has been paying off. He battled around the hoop, collecting 11 rebounds, drawing fouls and converting all six of his free throw attempts.

To the surprise of many, he has shown a willingness to pass with great efficiency, recording four assists in all three preseason games. At this juncture, there is an overwhelming assumption that Chriss will on the opening night roster, with two preseason games left to solidify his case.

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Shooting woes

The Warriors shot just 25 percent on 36 attempts from deep last night on a rough shooting night for the team. The Warriors, like all other teams, have become accustomed to random poor shooting performances. Unfortunately, unlike past seasons where the team could still win the game on the defensive end, an off-night offensively might spell doom for them this season.

The margin for error has shrunk considerably this season without Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson (for most of the year). With a team as young and inexperienced as the Dubs, there inevitably will be some inconsistency from many of their players, like the 3-for-14 shooting game from Jordan Poole last night.

The story of the season will be whether or not the coaching staff can concoct a respectable defense out of the pieces they have on the roster. If not, the Warriors will have to put up some offensive explosions on a nightly basis.

Warriors' Steve Kerr hopes to ease Jordan Poole's G League transition

Warriors' Steve Kerr hopes to ease Jordan Poole's G League transition

SAN FRANCISCO -- Warriors rookie guard Jordan Poole has struggled mightily in his first season in the Bay Area. In an effort to combat his troubles, Golden State plans to send the guard to its G League affiliate at an undetermined date. 

"There's nothing set in stone yet," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said following practice Tuesday morning. "He'll eventually be there. That's a big part of our development process. Santa Cruz has been a big asset over the years. A lot of players go back and forth, so it'll happen for Jordan at some point."

The Warriors' decision -- first reported Monday by NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole -- comes as Poole's early season is in peril. Over his first 24 appearances, he's shooting just 25.8 percent from the field. In Golden State's loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night, he collected his first "Did Not Play -- Coach's Decision" distinction, watching all 48 minutes from the bench. 

Poole's playing time this season has come as injuries have mounted. With much of the backcourt -- including All-Star guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson -- out of the lineup, Poole is averaging 24 minutes per game,

Kerr admitted he didn't plan for that strategy when the first-round pick was drafted in June. 

"We've thrown too much at him too fast," he said. "But that's because we've had no choice." 

Last month, Poole shot down any notion that he was concerned with his play, telling NBC Sports Bay Area, "Doing that got me here. Why would I change?" 

However, Kerr had a different tone Tuesday afternoon. When asked wht contributed to Poole's struggles, he cited the 20-year old's age in relation to fellow rookies Eric Paschall (23) and Ky Bowman (22). 

"It's a hard transition from college to pro, but particularly when you're 20 years old and only played two years of college ball," Kerr said. "You're still getting stronger, you're growing, you're maturing. It's easier for a four-year guy like Eric Paschall or (three-year college player) Ky Bowman to come into the NBA. Those few extra years are a big difference.

"That first year it's about figuring everything out, shot selection, defense. Different actions that you have to guard. The speed and strength of your opponent. It's all brand-new.' 

Golden State has had success sending players to the G League in recent years. Last season, guard Jacob Evans averaged 11.3 points. 3.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 21 appearances with the Santa Cruz Warriors. Former Warriors Jordan Bell, Quinn Cook and Patrick McCaw also spent time in Santa Cruz when they were with Golden State. 

"It's a good wake-up call," Kerr said. "It's not all chartered planes and Four Seasons. You've got to grind through the G League schedule, which is not easy. That's important for young players to feel, too. It's a good situation for us and really for the whole league."

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As for Poole, Kerr said the rookie has been working hard despite his bad play. Following Monday's loss, he went through an hour shooting workout in the team's practice facility inside Chase Center. Prior to games, he frequently watches film with assistant Chris DeMarco, giving Kerr optimism Poole can get out of his slump. 

"He's figuring it out and we're helping him along and he's going to grow," Kerr said. "This is going to be a very productive year for him."

Steph Curry says sitting with broken hand 'hardest thing' in career

Steph Curry says sitting with broken hand 'hardest thing' in career

The 2019-20 season has been extremely rough for the Warriors.

It's been even worse for Steph Curry.

“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” the two-time NBA MVP recently told Marcus Thompson of The Athletic.


Remember, Curry underwent surgery on his right ankle in May 2011, and then was limited to just 26 (of 66) games during the 2011-12 lockout season.

He had a second procedure in April 2012, and as ESPN's Pablo Torre wrote in February 2016: "Curry didn't know if he'd wake up owning a dead man's tendons. The worst-case scenario now? Total re-reconstruction, meaning that everything rebuilt in Curry's first surgery would be reattempted. If that proved necessary, they'd use better parts -- specifically, tendons from a cadaver."

He sprained his right MCL during the 2016 playoffs, missed four games and wasn't at full strength the remainder of the postseason.

In 2016-17, he made only 51 regular-season appearances, and didn't return until Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals because of a sprained left MCL.

Yet none of that stacks up to his current predicament -- a broken left hand. The three-time NBA champion sustained the injury Oct. 30 against the Suns, and will be sidelined until February at the earliest.

In the end, he might end up missing about 75 percent of the season.

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“I’ve always been (injured) mostly during the offseason," he told Thompson. "That year was the lockout year, so it was a much shorter time on the shelf.

"I’m going to lose my mind.”

This makes sense. He just wants to play.

Get well, Steph. But also -- hurry back. The NBA needs you.

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