Warriors

Warriors Las Vegas Summer League: Off-court observations from Sin City

Warriors Las Vegas Summer League: Off-court observations from Sin City

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

Las Vegas Summer League can be deceiving. Do not pay too much attention to statistics or records when analyzing the tournament.

The games are nowhere near NBA-level competition and the teams are assembled like glorified pick-up games. Instead, try observing the more subtle minutia of each individual player, like their willingness to shoot or pass, their overall basketball IQ or ability to find comfort in mayhem and slow the game down.

But not all observations of summer league are on the court. Let's jump around to some observations I made off the court during my time in Las Vegas:

The Warriors front office and coaching staff are optimistic and excited for the new-look Warriors: There has been a constant news cycle recently about the end of the Warriors dynasty, some even going as far as to say that this current rendition of the franchise will not even make the postseason next year.

But you would never know there is outside pessimism about the team when you around the actual team themselves. From top to bottom, there is a fresh enthusiasm in the air.

While roster question marks and concerns are accurately realized, there is a sense that the coaches and executives look at next season as a fun new challenge. They seem the cherish the role of underdogs after being the prohibitive favorites year after year.

Ron Adams is around and involved with the team: There had been reports that the Lakers were in hot pursuit of the defensive guru, and speculation had mounted over the last season that this might be it for Adams as a stalwart on the Warriors bench.

But Adams was present and engaged in Las Vegas, which makes one think that he will be back with the team in some capacity in the Chase Center.

Sure enough, Adams reportedly has agreed to return to the Warriors in a "revised role."

Willie Cauley-Stein's personality will be a great addition to the Warriors locker room: The new probable starting center is outgoing and fun to talk to, as he is generous with his stories and laughs.

He is happy to discuss his newfound love for fishing, or his excitement to join a team in Golden State that he has always admired.

Over the years, the team has always mixed in players onto their roster that could bring some levity and lightheartedness to a sometimes arduous season. Cauley-Stein seems like he could be that guy this year.

The combination of Eric Paschall and Jordan Poole deserves a reality TV show: The new-look Warriors are younger than ever, and with that comes some youthful energy.

The best example of this is the budding relationship between Paschall and Poole. The two rookies are inseparable, by choice and by circumstance, and they have a fun time showing it.

Whether it is crashing each other's interviews, or constantly laughing and poking fun at one another, Paschall and Poole bring some joy to the team that seemed to have been missing last season.

There is a strong consensus that Damion Lee deserves a chance in the NBA: Lee was present in Vegas, mingling with the Warriors staff and other NBA officials and players.

He is still a free agent, though currently restricted, and he is searching for a team to give him a chance after shooting over 40 percent in both the G-League and NBA last season.

There is a common sentiment from many that I talked to, that Lee deserves a real opportunity to compete at the highest level. Now it is up to a team to put him on their roster. The Warriors do not have much space, but perhaps they can get creative and find a way to bring him back.

[RELATED: Warriors' Jordan Poole, Eric Paschall showing flashes in Summer League]

Everyone still loves Quinn Cook: When Cook showed up at Thomas and Mack Center for the Warriors and Lakers summer league match up, he instantly became the most popular guy in the arena.

From NBA stars to agents, to coaches, to media, everyone just wanted a chance to reconnect with Cook. There is no doubt the Warriors will miss having him around the team.

Michael Jordan-Steph Curry 'The Match' pairing posed by Colin Cowherd

Michael Jordan-Steph Curry 'The Match' pairing posed by Colin Cowherd

Sunday’s “The Match,” featuring a showdown between NFL stars Peyton Manning and Tom Brady along with PGA icons Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods was a smashing success. The event raised $20 million for coronavirus relief in the United States, and was the highest-rated golf event in cable television history.

The access and humorous trash talk throughout has led many to speculate as to which duo from sports could be part of the next iteration of the event. Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd discussed this on Monday and posed some interesting potential pairings.

"Michael has always let it be known that he's pretty good at golf," Cowherd said. "Steph is easily the best current NBA golfer, that I would pay to see."

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

Steph Curry tweeted Sunday that he’d like to be included next time around, and sure enough Cowherd first mentioned a duel between the Warriors star and another NBA icon with North Carolina roots in Michael Jordan. MJ was shown to play golf frequently throughout his NBA career during ESPN’s “The Last Dance,” and continues to be a fan of the sport.

Curry is an avid golf fan and was glued to his television Sunday during “The Match.” He’s played in some professional golf events in the past, and always is among the best current athletes at the celebrity-laden American Century Championship each summer in Lake Tahoe.

Given MJ’s propensity to trash talk during his historic NBA career, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be trading barbs constantly with Curry. Steph’s confidence never has been in question and he likely would have plenty of fun going back and forth with Jordan.

[RELATED: Who Warriors fans think Steph Curry should team up with in 'The Match']

Throwing a couple PGA pros in, especially two who are avid NBA fans could make for some great conversation. As we saw throughout Sunday’s foursome, Mickelson and Woods were more than willing to engage and dish out some one-liners.

MJ likely wouldn’t be thrilled about being mic’d up for an entire round with no editorial control. But if both parties would be willing, this would be the most highly-anticipated event in the history of golf.

Plus we finally could settle that pesky debate of which team was more dominant between Curry’s 2016-17 Warriors and Jordan’s 1995-96 Bulls.

James Harden better player than Steph Curry, Kendrick Perkins claims

James Harden better player than Steph Curry, Kendrick Perkins claims

Here we go again. Kendrick Perkins said the thing. 

We can't even go a holiday weekend where sports aren't being played without the former NBA veteran riling up Warriors fans. Perkins' latest claim is that James Harden is a better all-around player than Steph Curry. 

"When I'm looking at all-around and the all-around player, the skill set and who brings more to the table, it's James Harden," Perkins said Monday on ESPN's "First Take." 

Perkins defended himself on Twitter, too, saying the only thing Curry does better than Harden is shoot. 

This comes after "First Take" unveiled its top 15 players in the NBA right now. The Warriors superstar came in at No. 5, while Harden was No. 6. Perkins wasn't having it, but the fans have spoken: Curry is beating Harden by a landslide in a Twitter poll that asked who the better player is. 

"As soon as [Harden] stepped foot into the Rockets franchise, he made that franchise relevant again," Perkins said. "He's a better all-around player than Steph Curry." 

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

Can't the same logic be said for Curry?

From 2009, the year the Warriors drafted Curry, through last season, Golden State won 505 regular-season games. The Warriors averaged 50.5 regular-season wins over that span, broke the regular-season wins record, went to the playoffs in seven straight seasons, made five straight NBA Finals and won three titles. Prior to that decade of dominance, the Warriors averaged 31.9 regular-season wins from 1999 through the 2008-09 season and made the playoffs once. 

Individually, Curry has won two MVP awards and was the first unanimous MVP in NBA history for his 2015-16 season.

Harden clearly took Houston to new heights after the Oklahoma City Thunder traded him to the Rockets in October 2012. He also has been knocked out of the playoffs by Curry and the Warriors four times. 

[RELATED: Where Steph-Klay rank on list of best NBA duos in history]

While Steph can wiggle three championship rings, Harden only can turn to spreadsheets and excuses as he still searches for his first championship.

This debate isn't going anywhere, and unfortunately for us all, neither are Perkins' takes. Take a deep breath, there are bigger issues to be mad at right now.