Warriors confident in D'Angelo Russell despite rough preseason debut

Warriors confident in D'Angelo Russell despite rough preseason debut

SAN FRANCISCO -- Four months ago, the Warriors acquired perhaps the best consolation prize a team could get when losing a top-five talent like Kevin Durant.

A 23-year old All-Star guard, D'Angelo Russell was one of the most efficient pick-and-roll initiators in the NBA last season, helping the Brooklyn Nets to a playoff berth. 

Entering his first season in Golden State, Russell -- one of the team's eight roster additions -- simultaneously is adjusting to his third home in four years, while adopting a motion offense predicated on constant movement and little playcalling. Now, following a subpar debut in Saturday's 123-101 preseason loss to the Lakers, Russell still is finding his role on the team. 

"It's all brand new to us," Russell said Saturday evening. "We got a lot of new guys. I'm trying to figure it out, including myself. It's not really second nature for a lot of us yet. It's just the more we play, the more we practice, watch film on it, the easier it'll get I think."

Russell, who scored four points while shooting 2-of-9 from the field, showed signs of rust early on. His first shot attempt, a contested 26-foot 3-pointer, barely drew iron. By the end of the first quarter, he missed three of his first four shots finishing minus-14 through the first 12 minutes. 

This is a much different offense for the young guard, though. In 81 games last season, Russell initiated the pick-and-roll 49.9 percent, finishing fifth in the league. While Russell pushed the Nets to the third-best pick-and-roll team, the Warriors finished second-worst in the league in such actions.

Under Kerr, Golden State has opted for a motion offense predicated on little playcalls and players moving within a basic set of rules. 

"It's just make the reads and go, and just for the most part, don't stop moving and good things will happen," Warriors guard Steph Curry said. 

Despite the outcome, Russell did show signs of promise. In the first quarter, he found Curry for a wide-open 3-pointer. Minutes later, he threw a pinpoint pass between four defenders to rookie forward Eric Paschall, leading to a put-back dunk. With Klay Thompson out until the All-Star break, Russell's exploits will need to be shown on a nightly basis, which Kerr is confident will happen. 

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"The main thing is he just has to get his legs underneath him," Kerr said. "You saw him make some brilliant passes. He's a wonderful passer, and I think he's going to make a huge impact on our team, handling the ball, and distributing, and making shots.

"He's not a guy who plays a ton of pickup ball in the summer. So, he uses the preseason to get his conditioning, and you could see he wasn't quite there, and nor did I expect him to be on game one."

Matt Barnes was on verge of NFL pursuit before Warriors offered chance

Matt Barnes was on verge of NFL pursuit before Warriors offered chance

Matt Barnes wasn't guaranteed or promised anything in his NBA career.

In fact, the former Warriors forward nearly left hoops in 2006 to pursue football.

"I was on the verge of trying to jump into the NFL," Barnes recently explained to Warriors broadcaster Bob Fitzgerald. "I was still working out -- basketball and football -- during the summertime because basketball hadn't really seemed to hit.

"I had played four years up to that point and bounced around -- been on a handful of teams -- and just really wasn't getting a fair shot."

Barnes was selected in the second round (No. 46 overall) of the 2002 NBA Draft, but spent his entire rookie season in the G League with the Fayetteville Patriots.

He didn't make his NBA debut until Jan. 19, 2004 when the Clippers gave him a shot with a 10-day contract.

Barnes signed with the Sacramento Kings in October 2004, and appeared in 43 games before he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in February.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

That brings us to the summer of 2006.

"I was in Sacramento (his hometown) at the time. Baron Davis called me (and said), 'Hey, we're gonna have an open run at the facility (in Oakland). If you're not doing nothing, come down.' I wasn't doing nothing. Hopped in my car, drove down an hour and a half. 

"Played well -- not knowing that Nellie (Warriors coach Don Nelson) was watching the whole time upstairs through the offices. We finished playing, he comes down, tells me I played well (and asks) where I'm going to camp. I was just like, 'You know coach, I don't really have any plans.'

"He told me, he's like, 'I can't promise you anything. I think we have 16 guarantees and 19 people coming to training camp, but if you play like you did today I'll give you a chance.' And that was the first time a coach really had a conversation with me. That's all I needed.

"(I) made the team and continued to use the games as practices and eventually worked my way into the lineup. The rest is history. That's kind of when I put my name on the map."

Over 76 games (23 starts) during the "We Believe" 2006-07 season, Barnes averaged 9.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.0 steals, while shooting nearly 37 percent from deep. In 11 playoff games, he averaged 11.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.5 steals and shot over 42 percent from 3-point range.

[RELATED: Barnes reveals 'We Believe' Warriors documentary in works]

After one more season with the Dubs in 2007-08, Barnes played for the Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies and Kings.

He returned to the Warriors in early March 2017 after Kevin Durant sustained a knee injury, and became an NBA champion.

The 40-year-old currently co-hosts a fantastic podcast with Stephen Jackson called "All the Smoke," and he is terrific as an analyst on TV.

It's crazy to think how different his life could have been had he not picked up BD's phone call 14 years ago ...

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[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Damian Lillard torches Dan Orlovsky for 'spoiled', 'entitled' remarks

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Damian Lillard torches Dan Orlovsky for 'spoiled', 'entitled' remarks

We live in an era of hot takes. Being correct isn't as important as being noticed. Ratings triumph over truth.

It leads to a situation in which television pundits frequently spout off misguided and easily disproven snap judgments without understanding the true context of the situation. Why give an accurate assessment when a bombastic quote can drive exponentially more traffic?

Most times, they aren't held accountable. On Thursday, though, Damian Lillard wasn't going to let that fly.

Lillard recently announced that he would sit out games if and when the NBA resumed the season if the Trail Blazers didn't have a chance to qualify for the playoffs and compete for a championship. While that is entirely reasonable, former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky joined ESPN's "Get Up" on Wednesday and put his foot in his mouth in criticizing Lillard's decision.

"How can you sit there and go, ‘Nope, I’m not going to play, but understand that there are people out there that don’t have that choice," Orlovsky said. "They have to go to work. They have to go earn their money. I struggle with sitting here and going ‘you don’t come off, in some way, a spoiled and entitled brat by saying I’m not going to play."

Spoiled and entitled? Seriously? Lillard is anything but, and he didn't let that idiotic comment slide.

Let's see. Lillard grew up in a rough part of Oakland. He didn't have a single D-1 scholarship offer coming out of high school. He attended a mid-major at Weber State University and built himself up to become the No. 6 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. In the time since, he has been named Rookie of the Year, made four All-NBA teams, selected to five All-Star games and become the face of his franchise. Not to mention, he continually gives back to his Oakland community, including hosting an annual picnic and donating to his high school.

What exactly is spoiled about that? And Orlovsky has the nerve to call Lillard entitled?!

Orlovsky, as Lillard reminded him, was a career backup. 

Across 12 career starts, he posted a 2-10-0 record. He is most known for unknowingly stepping out of the back of the end zone for a safety. And this is the guy who we're supposed to view as an authority on the circumstances of a superstar?

Come. On.

Lillard doesn't back down, on the court or off of it. He didn't relent in calling Orlovsky out, and to no one's surprise, the comments eventually were walked back ... sort of.

I suppose you can credit Orlovsky for acknowledging his mistake and apologizing, but I won't. If not for Lillard defending himself, the comments likely would have gone unchecked and further emboldened the hot-take culture.

[RELATED: Warriors could practice again at Chase in next two weeks]

Maybe Orlovsky will think twice -- or at least do a little research -- before opening his mouth next time.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]