Warriors discuss reality of no longer being NBA championship favorites

Warriors discuss reality of no longer being NBA championship favorites

SAN FRANCISCO -- Twelve months ago, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins gathered together in the Warriors' Oakland facility for a picture that documented perhaps the best starting five of all time. 

Similar sights were few in far between during media day Monday afternoon. Gone was the Oakland facility, replaced by the new Biofreeze Center tucked inside the Chase Center. Gone was Durant, who helped Golden State to three Finals appearances in the last three years. And gone was the foregone conclusion that Golden State will be the last team standing in June. 

"I think there's definitely a lot of unknowns," Warriors forward Draymond Green admitted during media day. "But it is exciting."

In front of a similar white backdrop Monday, Green posed alongside a slightly different crop of All-Stars. Cousins and Durant were replaced by D'Angelo Russell, acquired in the sign-and-trade that facilitated Durant's departure. Russell -- who averaged 21.1 points and seven assists with the Brooklyn Nets last season -- is among eight new additions to the team. 

Posing just to the right of Russell was Thompson, who tore his ACL three months ago and doesn't expect to return until at least around the all-star break. Adding to Golden State's conundrum, the team announced Willie Cauley Stein -- the only traditional center on the roster -- would miss a month with a foot strain

Golden State's injury woes have been compounded with an influx of youth. Of the Warriors' eight summer additions, just three have postseason experience and two are over the age of 26. Over the last five years, Golden State has entered the regular season the prohibitive favorites to win the title. This season, most observers don't believe the Warriors can reach a sixth straight Finals, some are writing off a postseason appearance. On Monday, Green defiantly dismissed the notion Golden State wouldn't be a factor. 

"I think it's definitely fun," he said. "It's exciting. I don't really pay as much attention as I used to because I realize how many people don't know what the hell they're talking about when you start talking about basketball.

I've got my own motivation and things that's going to push me," Green added. "To listen to some people who don't really know what they're talking about at this point, it really don't matter anymore."

Golden State's changes as the league it once dominated has retooled. The Lakers added star big man Anthony Davis, while the LA Clippers acquired all-star wings Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and the Houston Rockets reunited guards Russell Westbrook and James Harden. 

"Every year since we've been at this stage, every team is trying to get the better -- to knock us off when we won or just retool to win a championship. That's what everybody is in this business to do. You know, look at every era of basketball, for a team to sustain this type of level of play and this greatness, it doesn't happen that often, and when you need to retool, it may look different, but the great teams, great players figure it out as they go." 

The key to Curry's season will be his health.

Over the last two seasons, Curry has missed a combined 44 games due to injury, including 31 during the 2017-18 season. Last season, it was a non-contact groin injury that forced the guard to miss more than two weeks. The season before, a series of ankle injuries undermined one of the best statistical seasons of his career, as he missed the most games since 2012 when ankle surgery ended his season. While Curry said he doesn't plan on resting.

"I don't know what it's going to look like, how many minutes I'm going to play. We haven't really honestly talked about it that much, but it's just an opportunity to take another step and evolve. I'll put the work in and we'll continue to do that for as long as I can."

Monday marked the first view at the new-look Warriors, one that didn't include the built-in assumption that a title awaits, a notion that's new territory for most. 

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"Stuff has kind of just been status quo for the last few years and just kind of knew what to expect going into it, and it's pretty much just been that," Green said. "It's a new challenge now, which as a competitor is very exciting. We've been to the mountain top with the previous group, and we know how that feels. Now, can you do it again? Can we bring this team together and get back there? I think that's the most important thing, and I think that will be our focus moving forward."

Sources: Warriors plan to send first-round pick Jordan Poole to G League


Sources: Warriors plan to send first-round pick Jordan Poole to G League

SAN FRANCISCO -- When the Warriors send Jordan Poole to G League Santa Cruz, and that definitely is in the works, the move will not be a surprise.

Nor should the decision be considered punitive.

Rather, it will be a major step in the process to help the rookie shooting guard rediscover his game.

Poole’s trip to the Santa Cruz Warriors could come as early as this week, according to multiple league sources, but several other factors are influencing the timing.

The Warriors, for one, are considering the future of two-way point guard Ky Bowman, who has played well but is up to 30 days of NBA service. Another 15 days and the Warriors either waive Bowman, hand him a standard NBA contract or send him back to Santa Cruz. One way to extend his time with the franchise is to send him to the G League. Such a move is more likely with the return of point guard Jacob Evans III on Monday night.

The Warriors are disinclined to send both Poole and Lee to Santa Cruz. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but they’d much prefer to avoid it.

The second consideration involves shooting guard Damion Lee, the team’s other two-way player. Largely because he has missed the last four weeks, he still has 31 days of NBA service remaining. Initially listed as probable (generally considered a 75-percent chance of playing) Monday afternoon, Lee was downgraded to “out” two hours before tipoff.

Insofar as Lee plays the same position as Poole, Lee’s return could trigger Poole’s journey 90 minutes south of San Francisco.

The Warriors, according to multiple team sources, already have decided to meet with Poole before laying out the plan for once he arrives in Santa Cruz. He crept closer toward that direction Monday night when he received his first DNP-CD of the season as the Warriors fell, 110-102, to the Grizzlies.

The move is a response to Poole failing to find any shooting rhythm, the aspect of his game that was unquestioned when the Warriors selected him in the first round, No. 30 overall, last June. He’s shooting 25.8 percent from the field, including 24.5 percent beyond the arc.

Those numbers surely played a part in Poole exhibiting some shooting uncertainty, even mimicking reluctance, that bespeaks low confidence. The result is a shot without touch and, often, an outright brick.

The Warriors are certain Poole is better than what he has shown. Poole, 20, also realizes he needs to be better. He’s a natural scorer, with a natural stroke that suddenly looks unnatural.

The Warriors realized weeks ago that Poole could benefit from the kind of shooting rehab that can only happen in the G League. But injuries -- five guards were on the injured list most of last month -- left them in no position to be without any healthy player.

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One of the three injured guards, D’Angelo Russell, returned last week. Evans III returned Monday night. A third, Lee, is expected back this week.

With that level of depth, the Warriors can give Poole the opportunity to get regular minutes in the G League and maybe rebuild the confidence he insists he hasn’t lost despite statistics showing otherwise. A place where microscopes won’t follow is the smart move, and Santa Cruz is perfect for a talented scorer in search of his gift.

The Warriors drafted Poole largely because of his ability to score. Playing in a democratic offensive system under John Beilein at Michigan, Poole didn’t put up massive numbers. But he knew how to get buckets.

Even though taking Poole in the first round was perceived by many around the league as a “reach,” the general belief was that his shooting was NBA-ready.

That has not been the case. The numbers don’t lie. The general belief now, at least among the Warriors, is that it’s past time to see if Poole can find his bearings in the G League and return to the NBA and actually be the shooter he’s expected to be.

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 110-102 dud loss vs. Grizzlies

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 110-102 dud loss vs. Grizzlies


SAN FRANCISCO -- The Warriors entered Chase Center on Monday seeking the modest goal of winning consecutive games for the first time this season.

They failed, with a hail of missed shots and a flurry of turnovers sending them to a 110-102 loss to a Grizzlies team that had lost nine of its last 10 games.

The Warriors fell behind early, briefly went ahead in the third quarter and spent the fourth quarter trying to mount a comeback they couldn’t quite complete.

Here are three takeaways from a game in which the Warriors shot 37.6 percent and were picked apart on defense in the second half:

Morant routs Paschall in battle of rookies

Each team came into the game with a strong Rookie of the Year candidate, forward Eric Paschall for the Warriors and guard Ja Morant for the Grizzlies.

Morant, who had missed the last four games with back spasms, was better on this night and it was not close.

Paschall scored only five points, 12 below his average, while shooting 2-of-10 from the field and 0-of-2 from beyond the arc. He grabbed two rebounds and finished minus-14 over 22 minutes.

Morant practically willed the Grizzlies to victory, scoring 26 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-5 from deep and 7-of-8 from the line. He added seven assists and two rebounds, playing 29 minutes.

Morant made a couple dazzling plays, including a soaring dunk to give Memphis a 108-100 lead with 1:19 to play, effectively closing out the Warriors.

Draymond cranks up the offense

Though Draymond Green’s reputation for being a highly-effective defender lives on, he often is subjected to critiques about his scoring ability.

It’s not that he can’t. It’s that he usually doesn’t and hasn’t had to -- until now.

Presumably taking note of the team’s scoring challenges, Green immediately turned up his aggression on offense, scoring a team-high 14 first-half points in 16 minutes. Green, along with veteran guard Alec Burks (11 points), kept the offense from falling flat in the first half.

Green totaled 16 points, tying a season-high, shooting 6-of-13 from the field and 1-of-3 from deep.

The Warriors are a different team when Green is a scoring threat. It appears he is attempting to better establish that on a roster that needs it.

[RELATED: Draymond has ambitious plan for Warriors rookie Paschall]

Oh, those turnovers

Coach Steve Kerr hasn’t done much ranting about turnovers, a subject he often harped on over the last five seasons. Perhaps because of the youth and relative shared inexperience of his roster.

That’s about to change.

The turnovers are becoming almost routine. After rarely coming close to the 20-turnover mark in the first 20 games, the Warriors are averaging 19.0 over the last five. They committed 15 Monday night.

Worst of all, most of the turnovers were of the live-ball variety. The Grizzlies turned those 15 turnovers into 22 points.

That’s what stings most of all, seeing those giveaways turn into easy points the other way. The Warriors’ last five opponents, including Memphis, averaged 21.0 points off turnovers.