Warriors

Warriors

OAKLAND – Leave it to Stephen Curry to fire a warning shot to the rest of the NBA.

And his teammates are eager to back up the MVP, who last season led the Warriors to a franchise-record 67 wins and their first championship in 40 years.

With this being the second season in the offensive system installed by coach Steve Kerr, Curry believes the best is yet to come.

“Last year was our first year with Coach Kerr and the system that he was putting in throughout the season,” Curry said at Media Day on Monday. “He would remind us, when we had some lulls and some down games, that we were still in the first year of our offense and there are layers to it. You become more comfortable with it as you go through.

“That second year of that new offense is when things start to really click.”

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How much better, really, can the Warriors be in Year 2 of the system? They were the most prolific offensive team in the NBA, averaging 110 points per game. They averaged 27.4 assists per game, best in the league. They led the league in 3-point shooting percentage (39.8) and overall field goal percentage (47.8).

“As players, we felt like we could go out and really learn on the fly and still play well, even though it's still the first year and we're still getting used to it,’’ Curry recalls. “But (Kerr) always was telling us that the second, third year is when you really take off.

 

“So if we did what we did last year and we're still learning about the system and how we're going to go out and play it, I like our chances going into this year too.”

Team sage Andre Iguodala provided a bit of a history lesson when responding to the question of how much better the Warriors could be. The Finals MVP pointed directly to the Hawks, who were the surprise team of the year in their second season in the system utilized by Mike Budenholzer.

One year after going 38-44 in Budenholzer’s debut season, Atlanta finished with the second-best record in the league (60-22). Budenholzer edged out Kerr in the Coach of the Year voting and the Hawks led the Eastern Conference field-goal percentage, finishing only behind the Warriors in assists.

“You can probably explain it best using them as an example and how two years ago they kind of started with Bud and they were trying to get the offense,” Iguodala says. “And (last) year it was coming together a little quicker. Then they added a lot more movement into it because guys had been in the system for a while, so it ran much smoother, and you saw the type of season that they had.

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“For us, I think it's similar.”

Kerr’s system employs elements of the triangle, which was the foundation of the Bulls when Phil Jackson was the coach and Michael Jordan owned the NBA. Jackson took it to the Lakers and won five more championships.

But there is more to it than that. Kerr also borrows schemes utilized by Mike D’Antoni, who emphasized constant motion and multiple options off the foundation.

Kerr actually restricted the playbook last season. Now that he’s confident the team has absorbed the basics, he can add a few more wrinkles.

“I definitely think we can get better,” forward Draymond Green said. “A lot of times last year we kind of would depend on Steph to bail us out or depend on Klay (Thompson) to bail us out. That’s where in Year 2 you get more comfortable with the offense. You learn to get to the third, fourth and fifth option and play. That's going to help this team continue to grow.”

They have a ways to go to match the achievements of Jackson’s teams, as well as those of Gregg Popovich, who has won five titles in San Antonio and in recent years has turned to a similar offensive approach.

Make no mistake, though. The Warriors like where they’ve been – but not quite as much as where they think they’re going.