SAN FRANCISCO -- It was around 11 a.m. Tuesday morning when the Warriors took to the floor to start practice, and they were still at it as the clock ticked past noon and then 12:30 p.m. and then 1 o’clock and on to about 1:30.
It didn’t take long to prove this will be a very different season. Day 1 of training camp, featuring a two-and-a-half-hour practice, was Exhibit A in proving that 40-minute practices are as gone as Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.
“I can’t recall the last time I’ve had that long of a practice,” D’Angelo Russell said Tuesday. “But it’s necessary. We’ve got a few older guys and a lot of younger guys, so developing that chemistry and that aura that coach wants, it’s necessary to do that.”
Coach Steve Kerr felt strongly that the veteran rosters of the past derived more benefit from video study and rest periods than grueling workouts. But those short practices, with maybe half of the time devoted to video study, are being replaced by extended sessions for now.
That means lots of physical teaching, plenty of in-depth explanation and no shortage of sweat.
“For sure, early on; we just practiced for two-and-a-half hours,” Kerr said. “We never did that last year, for good reason. We came back with pretty much the entire roster intact and the new players picked up everything quickly and we got right into the season.
“This is different. We’re having to stop and teach. More stops and starts. More instruction. More whys and hows. So, the first part of camp will be more detailed. Once we get settled and get into a groove, practices will start to get shorter and more efficient.”
In recent seasons, the Warriors had plenty of light days at the gym and occasional bonus off days. The experience level, combined with the high basketball intellects and concessions made for the demands on players who played elongated seasons, factored into that approach.
If five consecutive trips to The Finals are any indication, that was successful.
But of the 18 active players in camp Tuesday, 12 were not on the roster last season. Only six -- Stephen Curry, Jacob Evans III, Draymond Green, Damion Lee, Kevon Looney and Alfonzo McKinnie -- were Warriors in 2018-19.
And one of them, Green, continues in the unofficial role of player-coach, as the newcomers discovered on Day 1.
“He’ll definitely stop practice and give correctives and help guys out,” center/forward Omari Spellman said. “I’ve gone to him and asked him a few questions myself, just trying to pick his brain. He’s definitely willing and I’m going to use that resource to try to get better and I know other guys will too.”
So for this week and throughout the preseason, the Warriors coaching staff will have to strike a balance between not overworking the vets and ensuring the others receive that proper amount of time on the court.
“The difference this year is probably an extra hour on the court from last year,” Kerr said. “We probably went an hour-and-a-half (at most) last year because everybody knew what we were doing. Now we’re spending more time in the court. The young guys are all eager and willing to learn.
"So, really, the burden is more on the older players and their willingness to be patient as we work with the young guys. As we go -- and as Steph/Draymond/Loon in particular -- as those guys feel more in condition and in shape and ready to play a game, they won’t work as much. I’ll probably take them out of some drills, maybe even call it a day after half a practice for them. They’ve earned it. They’ve played five straight years of 100-plus games
“But for now, it’s training camp. It’s easy to just run through everything because these guys are all in.”