With Klay Thompson out for the season, Steph Curry only playing five games and Draymond Green also missing significant time, Steve Kerr was forced to play Warriors rookies much more than he anticipated this year.
All young players hit a bump in the road throughout the Warriors' lowly 15-50 season. During Golden State's minicamp in San Francisco which started last week, Kerr already is seeing major improvements both skill wise and mindset wise from his young players.
"The guys who have finished their rookie year, and now looking forward to their second season, there's a different level of confidence," Kerr said Monday on 95.7 The Game's "Damon, Ratto & Kolsky show. "Jordan Poole, Ky Bowman, Eric Paschall ... when you get that first one under your belt, I think it's a lot easier coming back and knowing what to expect.
"All three of them are looking confident and feeling good."
Poole, the Warriors' first-round draft pick last year, didn't exactly dominate in Year 1. He averaged 8.8 points per game and shot just 33.3 percent from the field. The young shooting guard did improve significantly the final two months of the regular season, though. From Feb. 1 through March 10, he averaged 12.7 points and shot 46.7 percent from the field.
The most impressive rookie this season, of course, was Paschall. The second-round pick was named First Team All-Rookie after averaging 14 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. But Kerr knows there are plenty of areas Paschall can improve upon.
"He's working hard on his shot," Kerr said. "If we can improve that 3-point shot, particularly from the corners, then he's got a chance to stay on the floor even more next year. And then defensively, he's got to get better. It's not just the ability to switch and stay in front of guards. That's sort of everybody's go-to phrase these days. But it's really learning all of the tricks that the veterans have, understanding the patterns that you're seeing night in and night out during the NBA game, and recognizing them and anticipating them and then being in the right place -- being proactive and being aggressive and getting stops and being a plus defender.
"He's got the capability to do all that."
Paschall only made 28.7 percent of his 3-point attempts as a rookie. The Warriors envision Paschall turning into an even more athletic version of P.J. Tucker. They want him to be a reliable shooter from the corners and a strong, lockdown defender. If the Villanova product can get close to that, the Warriors will have an even bigger steal from the 2019 draft.
Golden State's stars are back next season. Getting productive minutes and important contributions from young players is what can truly turn them into championship contenders once again.