Warriors coach Steve Kerr held his end-of-season media session Tuesday afternoon.
And when asked what his team can collectively build on from 2019-20 going into next year, Kerr used it as an opportunity to indirectly challenge Golden State's youth.
"Most players really see a huge jump early in their careers once they've kind of settled in and have a solid year under their belt. I'm looking for a big leap forward for some of our younger players to the point where they can get into our rotation," he said. "Who that is, that's up to them.
"They have to earn that next year in camp and exhibition season. But that's what we're really looking for."
Kerr didn't mention anybody by name, but it's fair to assume he mainly was referring to Eric Paschall, Jordan Poole and Marquese Chriss.
Paschall had a fantastic rookie season, and saved his best for the end. Over the Warriors' last seven games, the No. 41 overall pick in the 2019 draft averaged 19.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists, while shooting nearly 55 percent from the field and 35 percent from deep.
When the NBA eventually hands out awards at some point this summer, Paschall absolutely should be named All-Rookie First Team.
Eric Paschall has 15 points (6-for-9 FG) and 5 assists in 20 minutes, and is a team-best +12 with the Warriors trailing by one after three quarters. He was the 41st overall pick. He’s a stud pic.twitter.com/KfL45g9GsC— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) March 6, 2020
I can watch clips of Eric Paschall dunking off two feet all day long. It’s just silly pic.twitter.com/oN7AWbB1qa— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) March 4, 2020
If we assume the Warriors return to full health and add some solid veterans this offseason, the 23-year-old (he will turn 24 in early November) will need to adjust his game and carve out a consistent role.
As for Poole, he struggled mightily with his shot the first several months of the season -- making less than 28 percent overall from the field, and 26.8 percent on 3s.
But things started to click in early February. The first-round draft pick (No. 28 overall) averaged 14.3 points and 3.9 assists over the Warriors' last 13 games (five starts), and shot better than 47 percent from the field and 31 percent from 3-point range.
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He also showed the ability to handle point guard duties. But ultimately, Golden State hopes he can provide some instant offense off the bench, and help with floor spacing.
Watching a confident Jordan Poole is pretty fun pic.twitter.com/LKY1yN28Fb— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) February 9, 2020
This was niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice from Jordan Poole pic.twitter.com/d3XrCPD8IP— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) February 24, 2020
Additionally, he needs to continue to improve defensively truly to be a part of the rotation on a nightly basis.
Lastly, we have Chriss. The No. 8 pick in the 2016 draft -- who arrived at training camp in September on a non-guaranteed contract -- resurrected his career in a Dubs uniform.
The soon-to-be 23-year-old (July 2) averaged 13.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.4 blocks over the Warriors' final 20 games (18 starts). He shot 61.2 percent from the field and over 78 percent from the free-throw line, showed off some impressive passing skills and became a legitimate presence defensively.
Marquese Chriss with the legit rim protection on Paul George pic.twitter.com/ergghAK0cu— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) March 11, 2020
Marquese Chriss got turned around at one point in the iso situation, but he showed the ability to stay with Bradley Beal and then got the big block (plus a quick staredown...) pic.twitter.com/JXHKYIZpI6— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) March 2, 2020
Just look at the chaos Steph causes. The final result is a wide open Marquese Chriss driving layup ... pic.twitter.com/9oeq7uhym4— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) March 6, 2020
Chriss said all the right things, earned a lot of respect and was a great teammate.
While there is a chance he ends up being Golden State's starting center on Opening Night next season, the Warriors almost assuredly will add a big man or two in the months ahead. Chriss won't be guaranteed anything and will need to fight for everything he gets.
"We want to be a contender, we want to be in the hunt," Kerr said. "We got to establish ourselves. In order to do that and give ourselves a chance, we gotta get much better defensively.
"I thought we made strides as the season went along, and I think we should be better next year ... hopefully getting some help through free agency and the draft, and hopefully we can elevate our defense to the level it needs to be in order to be a playoff team and a contender."