Warriors coach Ron Adams again humbled being named top NBA assistant


Warriors coach Ron Adams again humbled being named top NBA assistant

SEATTLE -- He comes to work each day like the teacher he is, engaged without being intrusive, opinionated without being overbearing and as quietly competitive as hell.

Maybe it’s those qualities, along with a 50-year catalog of basketball knowledge, that keep Ron Adams atop the list of more than 100 assistant coaches in the NBA.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Warriors’ chief defensive strategist was chosen by vote of 30 general managers as the best assistant coach in the league. Adams received 17 percent of the vote, ahead of San Antonio’s Ettore Messina, who finished second with 13 percent.

“It’s gratifying when anyone recognizes your work," he told NBC Sports Bay Area in an exclusive interview after practice Thursday. “But I’m always amused by it because there are so many great coaches out there, not only head coaches but also some really, really talented assistant coaches. It’s nice when the support people get some attention.”

Adams, who turns 71 in November, has been coaching basketball at one level or another, in one league or another, since his first job as an assistant at Fresno Pacific College in 1969. He coached in Europe in the 1970s. He has been in the NBA for 26 years, beginning with the San Antonio Spurs in 1992.

He’s never been a head coach in the NBA, nor has he aspired to be. He has been with the Warriors since 2014, hired by Steve Kerr when Kerr first took the job. Adams is among the highest-paid assistants in the league, commensurate with his status among his colleague, and is content in his role -- but only with this team.

The Warriors are his seventh NBA team. This job, he says, will be his last.

“Once you build a good culture, as has been the case here . . . it’s hard to find,” Adams says. “In many cases, they are organic. There have been many good decisions here on players. But there are a lot of people out there trying hard to make good decisions, and it doesn’t always work because this is an imperfect business. You can do your homework, you pick a player in the draft and that player disappoints you. You pick another player and he surprises you. We’ve been pretty fortunate.”

Kerr’s coaching motto is “everyone has a voice.” That includes assistants, players, staffers and video assistants. Adams was hired to coordinate the defense and teach the young players, particularly big men, and he rarely strays from that.

That the Warriors have been a top-10 defense four consecutive years -- top five in three of those seasons -- can be attributed to a number of factors. There is Kerr, constantly making it a priority. There was Andrew Bogut, who was traded in 2016. There are defensive demons Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, who act as coaches on the floor. Adams’ task is to lay the groundwork while reminding everyone of habits and tendencies.

“Steve’s terrific,” Adams says. “He gets input from everyone. What I like about Steve and his growth from four years ago when we started is that he continually gets better. He’s got this really sharp mind, and he thinks the game offensively and he thinks it defensively now. He knows what he wants and we have a lot of fun.

“Hopefully, I’ve grown since coming here, too. But I look at his growth, and that of the young coaches on this staff and that’s really gratifying to see.”

The Warriors, players and coaches, have come to refer to Adams by a number of nicknames. Luke Walton used to kid him about being the “old guy.” Festus Ezeli said Adams was “like a professor.” We’ve also heard “guru” and “sage.”

Some of this is serious, some of it a tease. Adams, bespectacled and standing maybe 5-foot-9, takes it in stride. That’s easy to do because he’s generally satisfied with the fruits of his labor.

The Warriors last season finished ninth in the NBA in defensive rating, which is their lowest ranking with Adams on the bench. The slippage was not because they forget how to play D. They were prioritizing. When it really mattered, in the postseason, they were No. 1.

Warriors’ still-mounting injuries a big blow to young players’ development

Warriors’ still-mounting injuries a big blow to young players’ development

SAN FRANCISCO -- In the waning moments of the Warriors' latest loss Friday night, their bench resembled the front row of a fashion show more than a functioning NBA roster.

Toward the end of the bench, All-Star guard Stephen Curry sat in a black suit jacket, covering a massive cast protecting his broken left hand. To Curry's left, center Kevon Looney sat in a gray suit, his immediate future in peril as he continues to seek answers about an injured hamstring.

That type of visual has become commonplace over the last month.

Over that stretch, 11 Warriors players have been sidelined with injuries, crippling a roster that seemed armed with an outside shot of making the playoffs on opening night just three weeks ago.

The latest blow came Saturday morning, when an MRI confirmed that D'Angelo Russell had suffered a sprained thumb, sidelining him for at least two weeks. Over his previous six games, the guard had averaged 29.7 points on 48 percent shooting from the field, including a 52-point, nine-rebound performance against Minnesota, so his absence will be felt.

That's because the Warriors are in roster transition, marked by their youthful core.

When Jordan Poole and Eric Paschall were drafted in June, the expectation was that the rookies would be brought along slowly, learning behind Golden State's battered All-Star cast. The myriad injuries changed that, though, forcing both into more minutes than initially anticipated.

While Paschall has flourished in that spot (15.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in 30.8 minutes per game), Poole has struggled. Since Curry's injury in the fourth game of the season, Poole has shot 29 percent from the field, and he has hit just five of his last 28 shots over his last two contests.

The trickle-down effect started on the eve of training camp, when Warriors general manager Bob Myers announced that center Willie Cauley-Stein would miss most of October with a foot strain. Two days later, rookie Alen Smailagic rolled his ankle and Looney strained his hamstring in the same controlled scrimmage.

Last month, Curry broke his hand, sidelining the guard until at least February. Two nights later, forward Draymond Green tore a ligament in his left index finger. On Monday, two-way guard Damion Lee fractured his hand.

Amid all those injuries, Warriors coach Steve Kerr trotted out his ninth starting lineup of the season Friday, with two-way guard Ky Bowman at the point. For a moment, it worked.

Midway through the third quarter, Bowman intercepted a pass, ran cross court and dunked over Grant Williams, cutting the Celtics' lead to three. Two minutes later, Alec Burk stripped Boston guard Brandon Wanamaker, setting up a fast-break layup that gave Golden State a brief 82-80 lead before the Celtics rallied and held on in the fourth quarter.

The Warriors' current reality is much different than their immediate past. After winning 78 percent of their games over five years, they now find themselves with a roster that lost Kevin Durant to free agency, while Curry and Klay Thompson's rehabs are expected to last until at least February. Their 2-11 record is the NBA's worst.

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Minutes after the final buzzer Friday, there were reminders of potential hopes lost. Curry's hand swelled out of his cast as he walked near a team official. In the locker room, Paschall sported an ice pack on his right hand, and Poole reconciled an ankle injury that he said wouldn't affect him.

As the Warriors packed for another road trip, potentially with just eight healthy bodies for the foreseeable future, another reminder that the team's development is coming at a hefty price was evident.

Warriors' D'Angelo Russell out at least two weeks with right thumb sprain


Warriors' D'Angelo Russell out at least two weeks with right thumb sprain

Add another one to the list.

After leaving Friday night’s loss to the Celtics with a thumb injury, an MRI has confirmed a right thumb sprain for All-Star guard D'Angelo Russell.

Russell will not travel with the team on the upcoming four-game road trip and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Golden State’s already lengthy injury report adds another name, as the team now stands with just nine healthy players as the team embarks for New Orleans on Saturday to kick off the trip.