Warriors

Warriors believe they're headed in right direction despite 5-22 record

Warriors believe they're headed in right direction despite 5-22 record

SALT LAKE CITY - The Warriors have lost a lot in the last six months. 

The most obvious wound is the gutting of its Hall of Fame roster, and the injuries that crippled it. But perhaps the most essential damage to the team's evolution is its most recent struggle: Failing to close out games talent used to be able to overcome. 

In its latest effort -- a 114-106 loss to the Jazz -- the Warriors led for much of the first half before Utah took control in the third quarter. The loss came at a strange time for Golden State as their three All-Stars -- Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry -- were nursing injured back in California and their prized rookie Eric Paschall was in the locker room due to a hip injury. 

Nonetheless, the league's worst team left Vivint Smart Home Arena seeing enough progress to believe they're heading in the right direction, even if the scoreboard says otherwise. 

"There is a lot of good stuff," Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitted. "But you want that to lead to a win and that's coming."

Remnants of Kerr's positivity showed through the first 24 minutes Friday evening. In the first quarter, they held the Jazz to 39 percent from the field, outscoring Utah 14-8 in the paint. By the end of the first half, they built a 56-49 lead, marked by promising plays from its young core. 

Six minutes into the first quarter, 6-foot-8 big man Omari Spellman pulled down a rebound, went the length of the court, bullying his way for a layup to give Golden State a 20-18 lead. A quarter later, center Marquese Chriss blocked Jazz guard Royce O'Neal at the rim, ran the length of the floor and received a pass for an easy dunk on the other end, pushing Golden State's lead to 13. 

Following halftime, the Jazz responded by outscoring the Warriors 37-28 in the third quarter. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 10 of his game-high 32 points over the stretch, as Utah made a run that was all-too-familiar to Golden State. 

"They picked up their pace in the third quarter," Kerr said. "I'm sure they were not happy with their pace in the first half and so they played a great third quarter and put a lot of pressure on us."

Worse, even after the Warriors briefly took a 104-103 lead with just over two minutes left, the Jazz went on an 11-2 run to close the game, underscoring one of the team's biggest problems this season. Through 27 games, the Warriors are among the worst teams in the last five minutes of games. During the timeframe, they're posting a putrid 92.9 offensive rating, with a net rating of -33.6. 

For context, the 2017-18 Warriors -- featuring a healthy Curry, Green, Thompson and Kevin Durant -- posted a 112.2 offensive rating in clutch situations, finishing third in the league, leaving a mark the current battered Warriors are trying to fulfill.  

"I think we can win a lot more games than we have," said Chriss. "We've been in games that we could win and honestly that we should win. People try to say that our team is down and things like that but we're competing with teams that have their full roster. This team is full of fighters and teams that want to win." 

While the team is frustrated, their latest performance comes with a caveat. Clutch performances are built through experience, an attribute the league's third-youngest team has yet to gain. 

"I remember being in this position earlier in my career where you get the taste of winning, but you don't really know how to do it, you may just get lucky that night," said 23-year old guard D'Angelo Russell. "Other teams in the league that are solidified, they find a way to win and those other teams that aren't supposed to win find a way to lose so I think it comes with growth and experience."

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Late Friday evening, just before he left Salt Lake City for a late-night flight back to the Bay Area, recovering from yet another close loss, Kerr made a declaration for his young team, despite optics of the contrary. 

"I like where we're heading," he said. "I really do. I know it might sound crazy because of our record, but I think we're going to start winning some games. I think we're getting better."

Why James Wiseman is, is not a perfect fit for Warriors in NBA Draft

Why James Wiseman is, is not a perfect fit for Warriors in NBA Draft

It's been a long time since the Warriors have had to worry about pick at the top of the NBA Draft.

But, barring a miraculous turnaround, that's exactly what Bob Myers and his staff find themselves thinking about midway through January.

The Warriors enter the weekend with the worst record in the NBA and appear set to land one of the top overall picks in the draft on June 25.

Assuming the Warriors land one of the top three picks in the draft, there are three names that have been tied to Golden State: Center James Wiseman and wings Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball.

NBC Sports college basketball writer Rob Dauster explained to NBC Sports Bay Area this week why he believes Wiseman should be the pick for the Warriors.

"I think in an ideal world, if you can get a top-three pick, and you end up getting James Wiseman, that's the perfect fit for this Golden State team," Dauster said. "You look at the players they've run through at the [center position], whether it's Kevon Looney, whether it's Damian Jones, anybody that they've brought in, they are looking for that guy that can be that athletic center, that can be switchable defensively, that's gonna be able to block some shots, that can rebound the ball, that can run in transition and James Wiseman is the guy that makes the most sense to me.

"He's 7-foot, he's got a 7-foot-6 wingspan, he's got all the tools to be a really good defender at the NBA level and I think he has a developing offensive skill set that should allow him to space the floor a little bit.

Dauster did add a bit of caution with Wiseman. The 18-year-old began his college career at Memphis, but was ruled ineligible on Nov. 14. In the summer of 2017, Memphis coach Penny Hardaway paid $11.500 to help Wiseman's family move from Nashville, Tenn. to Memphis.

A little over a month later, Wiseman decided to leave Memphis and declared for the NBA Draft. He ended up playing in just three games for the Tigers.

"Now, the thing about Wiseman is that there are always questions about his competitiveness and whether or not he loves basketball," Dauster said. "Of all the red flags you see come along with big guys that kind of loff their way through high school and loff their way through college a little bit, and it hasn't been helped by the fact that he basically quit on his Memphis team earlier this month. There are red flags involved with him, but if you have a guy with competitiveness issues, I think the absolutely perfect fit for him would be to put him in a locker room with guys like Draymond Green and Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. You're not going to be able to loff when you have those guys to answer to after every single practice and after every game.

The other issue Dauster brought up is the Warriors' window to compete for an NBA championship. Assuming Curry and Thompson are healthy to begin the 2020-21 season, most experts feel the Warriors will return to the top of the Western Conference standings. But Wiseman might not be ready to compete at that level, according to Dauster.

"Now, the problem there is, Wiseman to me, is probably two or three years from really becoming the guy that you want him to be when you're drafting him and I don't know if you have a two or three year window with this crop of players," Dauster said. "How long is Steph Curry going to be at his peak? How long is Klay Thompson going to be at his peak? Have those guys already crossed that threshold and now on the downside of their careers? So the big question to me is, if you want to use this pick on James Wiseman, are you doing it knowing that you have a year or two before he becomes the guy that can impact the game the way you want him to impact a game?"

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The Warriors will have a big decision on their hands come June. Of course, they could package the draft pick with D'Angelo Russell and bring in an All-Star caliber NBA player.

The options for the Warriors are unlimited. Wiseman will surely garner consideration from the Warriors. But they must do their homework and make sure he's the right fit.

Quakes' Tommy Thompson challenges Steph Curry after making tunnel shot

Quakes' Tommy Thompson challenges Steph Curry after making tunnel shot

During the Warriors' final years at Oracle Arena, Steph Curry capped off his pregame routine with a tunnel shot.

It became a must-see event for anyone attending a Warriors game.

But due to the different layout of Chase Center in San Francisco, Curry had to adjust his tunnel shot. Now the shot has a higher degree of difficulty. He almost made the shot before the regular-season opener against the Clippers.

Curry hasn't been able to try the trick shot for a few months because of his broken left hand, but when he returns, he has some work to do.

This week, San Jose Earthquakes defender Tommy Thompson joined the Harlem Globetrotters for an event at Chase Center and made Curry's trick shot ... with a twist.

After kicking in the tunnel shot, Thompson challenged Curry.

"Can you make that, though?" Thompson said.

Curry has yet to respond to Thompson on Twitter or Instagram, but we're sure he'll have a response once he returns to game action.

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Curry is a wizard when it comes to trick shots, but even this might be tough for him to replicate.

Good luck, Steph.