Warriors Outsiders Q&A: Kevon Looney’s development; Draymond Green’s timeline

Warriors Outsiders Q&A: Kevon Looney’s development; Draymond Green’s timeline

On every Warriors Outsiders show, we do a simulcast on Facebook Live. Here are some questions and comments that we didn’t get to address from the last couple shows.

But first, just a quick thought on Steve Kerr and the Warriors coaching staff. ...

We all heard Kerr be critical of himself and his coaching thus far, following the loss to the Pistons this last week. Rightfully so, as there were some apparent schematic issues, mostly involving offensive spacing and lack of 3-point opportunities. 

And while it should come as no big surprise, NBA social media has been ablaze criticizing Kerr for these very things throughout the beginning of this season. 

In defense of the coaching staff, they were heralded for the Warriors’ impressive 10-1 start to the season, and then the minutia of strategy began being closely analyzed and criticized once the team lost Steph Curry and Draymond Green to injury. When all is said and done, however, this might end up being the most difficult season that Kerr and the Warriors coaching staff has been dealt, in terms of game plan and strategy. 

With a very young, inexperienced bench and a starting lineup that already has missed their two best fast-break catalysts for half of the new season, the staff has been forced to scramble to find creative ways to get the team scoring. The fast pace and deep shooting that had been the Warriors’ calling card has been adopted by the entire NBA, and now the staff is forced into either being the best at the strategy they originated, or counterpunch with a new game plan. 

You take all of that, and I haven’t even reached the hardest part yet: eventually integrating DeMarcus Cousins into the Warriors’ star-studded lineup, which will be a MUCH harder task than many assume. It will take some time, and there definitely will be some headaches before they finally figure it out. IF they figure it out. Judging by their track record, you assume Kerr and the staff will. 

It will be possibly the most difficult season for them, but I think they’re up to the task.

Now, to your questions and comments ...
Mark Barrenechea: “Loon with the midrange, awesome to see"
Mark is right — it definitely was awesome to see Kevon Looney make a couple mid-range jumpers Monday night against the Hawks. 

Looney does many things well, especially on defense, but he has underrated skills offensively, too. His timing and spacial awareness is impressive, and he’s a little more athletic than many people assume. When you couple those attributes with his length and his soft hands, Looney can be a threat around the hoop. But if Looney can see growth in his mid-range game, he could be an even bigger help to a Warriors offense recently in need of spacing. 

To be effective in shooting from mid-range, Looney doesn't need to have David West-type accuracy. But if he were to take a couple shots from 15 feet out each game, and make at least one of them, then all of the sudden the defense no longer can leave him alone. And that will clear defenders from the hoop, openings lanes for Durant, Curry, Draymond, etc. 
James Burroughs: "When’s Draymond coming back"
As an Outsider, I just rely on what I hear/read from insider Monte Poole, Kerith Burke and all other on the beat. Kerr told the media that Draymond will not be available during the road trip, which ends Friday, but that doesn’t mean there has been a setback with his injured toe. 

Draymond is confident that his toe has healed, and now it’s all about getting him back in game shape. The training staff has shown it will be overly cautious in rehabilitating injuries, as they probably held Stephout a couple more games than necessary to be extra confident that his groin had healed. 

Unless something was wrong, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Draymond back on the court early next week on the next homestand. 
John Del Van: "Denver nuggets think they are the golden state warriors"
I really enjoy watching the Nuggets. While they’re definitely a different team than the Warriors, after a win in Toronto to make their record 16-7, the Nuggets seem like the real deal. 

And to think, they’re doing most of their damage early this season without Will Barton (Warrior Killer), and with a roller-coaster season from Jamal Murray and Isaiah Thomas yet to play a minute. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them finish in the top three record-wise in the Western Conference.
Anne Coddington Muller: "We all need Warriors Outsiders shirts!! Been waiting for years for them!"
I'm sorry, Anne! We definitely want to see some FINALLY get made this year. You'll be one of the first to know :)
Reggie Mallorca: "Who's better at hoops? Grant or his bro?"
Definitely me, Reggie. I think he would agree with that. But when we were younger, he was better than me.

Now a lot of people wonder who would win between Drew and I in some 1-on-1 basketball. And the answer is sadly Drew, even after multiple hip surgeries. But I'll say this — the talent gap is closer right now than it ever has been before!
Marie Doriliz Velez: "Guys go to live questions!!!"
We try to see and answer as many questions in the Facebook Live chat room as possible during the show. We love the conversations, and we remember the names of everyone who keeps returning. Feels like a little Facebook Live family. 

But for questions we miss and don't address, be sure to check these follow-ups because I'll go back and answer some like this!

Watch Warriors Outsiders before and after home game, and after every road game on NBC Sports Bay Area and on Facebook

Warriors believe they're headed in right direction despite 5-22 record

Warriors believe they're headed in right direction despite 5-22 record

SALT LAKE CITY - The Warriors have lost a lot in the last six months. 

The most obvious wound is the gutting of its Hall of Fame roster, and the injuries that crippled it. But perhaps the most essential damage to the team's evolution is its most recent struggle: Failing to close out games talent used to be able to overcome. 

In its latest effort -- a 114-106 loss to the Jazz -- the Warriors led for much of the first half before Utah took control in the third quarter. The loss came at a strange time for Golden State as their three All-Stars -- Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry -- were nursing injured back in California and their prized rookie Eric Paschall was in the locker room due to a hip injury. 

Nonetheless, the league's worst team left Vivint Smart Home Arena seeing enough progress to believe they're heading in the right direction, even if the scoreboard says otherwise. 

"There is a lot of good stuff," Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitted. "But you want that to lead to a win and that's coming."

Remnants of Kerr's positivity showed through the first 24 minutes Friday evening. In the first quarter, they held the Jazz to 39 percent from the field, outscoring Utah 14-8 in the paint. By the end of the first half, they built a 56-49 lead, marked by promising plays from its young core. 

Six minutes into the first quarter, 6-foot-8 big man Omari Spellman pulled down a rebound, went the length of the court, bullying his way for a layup to give Golden State a 20-18 lead. A quarter later, center Marquese Chriss blocked Jazz guard Royce O'Neal at the rim, ran the length of the floor and received a pass for an easy dunk on the other end, pushing Golden State's lead to 13. 

Following halftime, the Jazz responded by outscoring the Warriors 37-28 in the third quarter. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 10 of his game-high 32 points over the stretch, as Utah made a run that was all-too-familiar to Golden State. 

"They picked up their pace in the third quarter," Kerr said. "I'm sure they were not happy with their pace in the first half and so they played a great third quarter and put a lot of pressure on us."

Worse, even after the Warriors briefly took a 104-103 lead with just over two minutes left, the Jazz went on an 11-2 run to close the game, underscoring one of the team's biggest problems this season. Through 27 games, the Warriors are among the worst teams in the last five minutes of games. During the timeframe, they're posting a putrid 92.9 offensive rating, with a net rating of -33.6. 

For context, the 2017-18 Warriors -- featuring a healthy Curry, Green, Thompson and Kevin Durant -- posted a 112.2 offensive rating in clutch situations, finishing third in the league, leaving a mark the current battered Warriors are trying to fulfill.  

"I think we can win a lot more games than we have," said Chriss. "We've been in games that we could win and honestly that we should win. People try to say that our team is down and things like that but we're competing with teams that have their full roster. This team is full of fighters and teams that want to win." 

While the team is frustrated, their latest performance comes with a caveat. Clutch performances are built through experience, an attribute the league's third-youngest team has yet to gain. 

"I remember being in this position earlier in my career where you get the taste of winning, but you don't really know how to do it, you may just get lucky that night," said 23-year old guard D'Angelo Russell. "Other teams in the league that are solidified, they find a way to win and those other teams that aren't supposed to win find a way to lose so I think it comes with growth and experience."

[RELATED: Burks wants to stay with Warriors]

Late Friday evening, just before he left Salt Lake City for a late-night flight back to the Bay Area, recovering from yet another close loss, Kerr made a declaration for his young team, despite optics of the contrary. 

"I like where we're heading," he said. "I really do. I know it might sound crazy because of our record, but I think we're going to start winning some games. I think we're getting better."

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in deflating 114-106 loss to Jazz


Warriors takeaways: What we learned in deflating 114-106 loss to Jazz


SALT LAKE CITY -- Warriors big man Marquese Chriss said his team was "tired of losing" during his halftime interview with NBC Sports Bay Area's Kerith Burke on Friday at Vivent Smart Home Arena.

Unfortunately for Chriss, the Warriors will have to wait at least two more days to erase their current skid, as Golden State lost 114-106 to the Jazz. 

Unlike most nights, the Warriors -- without Draymond Green and rookie Eric Paschall -- showed fight, taking a seven-point lead after the first quarter. However, a second-half Utah run doomed their chances as the Warriors' inability to finish crippled them once again. 

There are no moral victories in sports and the Warriors will take another loss back to the Bay Area. 

Here are the takeaways as the Warriors fell to 5-22 on the season: 

Fast start erased in one quarter

The Warriors have been immune to quick starts over the last week. On Friday, the trend changed. Through the first 24 minutes, Golden State outscored Utah 26-18 in the paint, while holding the Jazz to just 43 percent from the field. 

Utah's defense was out of sorts in the second quarter, as the Warriors built a 13-point lead. On one possession, Chriss blocked a shot on one end, ran the floor unguarded and received a pass wide open under the basket for an easy dunk. 

Then the third quarter happened.

Over the next 12 minutes the Warriors were outscored 37-28. Even when the Warriors fought back, a key missed dunk from Willie Cauley-Stein ended any hopes of a win. 

The Warriors have shown fight amid injuries, but the only mark of success is winning, a goal the team again couldn't accomplish in Utah. 

Alec Burks shines

Against his former team, Burks was effective, finishing with 24 points including two 3-pointers. Despite shooting just 41 percent from the field this season, Burks has shown the ability to carry Golden State's offense when needed. His downhill attack consistently puts the opponent on edge. 

The location of Burks' output is noteworthy. He spent eight years playing in Utah before injuries derailed his career. His affinity for the town was apparent from the time he walked into the building. Following his pregame workout, he spent most of his time exchanging pleasantries with former teammates and arena staff, causing a Warriors team official to jokingly ask, "When is Alec's statue going up?"

[RELATED: Burks wants to stay with Warriors]

Chriss shined despite scare

The first-year Warrior continued his reclamation bid, finishing with 12 points, adding 13 rebounds and two blocks in 23 minutes off the bench. 

Chriss had a slight scare in the third quarter when he knocked knees with a Jazz player contesting a layup. He was later diagnosed as a left knee contusion. 

Following a rough start to his career, Chriss has become a valuable piece to the transitional Warriors, providing rebounding and scoring off the bench. Friday was yet another example of his contributions.