Warriors practice takeaways: What we learned on Day 3 of training camp


Warriors practice takeaways: What we learned on Day 3 of training camp

SAN FRANCISCO -- With a diminished roster forcing shorter and lighter practices, the Warriors concluded their shortest session of the week Thursday with more questions than answers.

They did not bother scrimmaging, believing it was more productive to work on conditioning, skills and video study.

Here are three takeaways from Day 3 of training camp:

Too many cooks? Not in this case

After utilizing seven coaches the last few seasons, the Warriors this season increased the total to 10, which is more than they’ve had at any time in their existence.

“We actually need everybody because of how much youth we have,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We’re doing a lot of individual training before and after practice. A lot of individual film work. So, we need all these coaches because they’re all divvying up the individual instruction.”

Kerr’s primary assistants are Ron Adams, Mike Brown, Jarron Collins and Bruce Fraser. Adams’ role has shifted away from the bench, toward player development. Rather than the full travel schedule of the last five seasons, he’ll be on the road for select games.

Chris DeMarco operates in a hybrid position of assistant coach/player development, while four others -- Seth Cooper, Luke Loucks, Aaron Miles and Theo Robertson -- operate solely in player development.

Just one more sign of the franchise understanding it is in the midst of a major transition, with as many players under 25 as over.

Help Wanted: Centers apply here

When the Warriors take the court Saturday for their preseason opener at Chase Center, they will be without their starting center, their battle-tested backup and the man who would be no worse than third-string if he were on the active roster.

Kerr said Thursday he didn’t know who would start, or come off the bench, or finish, when they face the Lakers, but his options obviously are limited.

“I assume Omari (Spellman) will start, if I had to make a guess right now,” Kerr said after practice. “Marquese Chriss will play some 5 as well. I believe those are our only two options.”

Kerr then added that 6-foot-7 rookie Eric Paschall also could spend time at center.

Putative starter Willie Cauley-Stein is out until November with a mid-foot sprain. Kevon Looney, scheduled to come off the bench, is out with a “slight” hamstring strain. Zaza Pachulia is in the building, but in the role of consultant.

Spellman, a second-year player acquired from the Hawks in the deal that sent Damian Jones to Atlanta, is 6-9, 275, with a nice shooting touch. Chriss, a 2016 first-round draft pick, is on his fourth team in four years.

Expect Paschall, at 6-7 and a solid 250 pounds, to be shoved into the fray.

“He’d be the shortest 5-man in the history of the NBA,” Kerr said. “But he’s got the strength and athleticism and the length, with his (7-foot) wingspan, to play bigger than he is.”

’Nova West? Warriors East? Take your pick

The Warriors have won three of the last five NBA Finals. Villanova has won two of the last four NCAA national titles. Coincidence?

Maybe not, if you listen to Paschall, who spent his final three seasons of college at ‘Nova, under coach Jay Wright, before being drafted by the Warriors in June.

“Coach Wright has done a great job of preparing all his Villanova guys like that,” Paschall said. “He kind of runs an NBA-style offense. And the type of practices we have here are exactly what we do at college.”

And that was before the Warriors drafted Paschall, before they acquired Spellman and before Kerr and Wright spent much of the summer working alongside each other on the staff of Gregg Popovich during the FIBA World Cup.

“I talked to Jay this morning, actually, about his two guys,” Kerr said. “That’s one of the big advantages I have with coaching Eric and Omari. I’ve got an automatic ally in Jay. And some insight into what makes these guys tick.”

[RELATED: Injuries forcing Warriors to bet on young core quickly]

The similarities have helped Paschall make a relatively quick adjustment to the Warriors.

“When I said after a few meetings I thought this was Villanova again, it’s because how coach Kerr runs this place and how Bob Myers runs it, it’s kind of exactly like Villanova,” he said. “Just knowing it’s a very cultured place. They want everything to be as it is, so they can continue to win. And that’s how coach Wright is. Coach Wright is very big on making sure that we can continue to win by doing what we do.

“I feel like I fit in perfectly because some of the stuff coach Kerr talks about, coach Wright talks about.”

Luka Doncic developing into NBA superstar as clash with Warriors looms


Luka Doncic developing into NBA superstar as clash with Warriors looms

If the Warriors bring the same defensive intensity they took into Memphis on Tuesday, they’ll give themselves a reasonable chance to win Wednesday night in Dallas.

Anything less, and they’ll be food for the kid.

Three months and eight days before he can walk up to a bartender and legally order anything he wants, Luka Doncic already is taking whatever he wants within the NBA.

The league that provided a platform for such gifted 20-year-olds as Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kevin Durant has never seen one quite like Doncic, who is driving the Mavericks into a new era of relevancy.

His across-the-board statistics are astonishing and testify to his impact. He’s the only player in the league that is in the top 10 in triple-doubles (first, six), assists (second, 9.3 per game), scoring (fourth, 29.5), player-efficiency rating (fourth 30.91), minutes (fourth, 35.0) and rebounds (10th, 10.7).

But those superlatives, which set Doncic apart, represent only the tangibles. It’s his background and intangibles that are making him not only a fabulous player but also put him on the fast track to superstardom.

The 6-foot-7 Slovenian guard/forward has the complete panache kit. The hubris to dribble between the legs of a defender. The audacity to demand the ball and take the shot in the final seconds of a close game. The no-look passes reminiscent of vintage Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. The physical theatrics that speak the universal language of swagger.

Put another way, Luka’s game has elements of the late, great Drazen Petrovic, Bird, Magic, Kobe and LeBron.

He’s a “bad motherf-----," James said after he and Doncic exchanged lightning strikes in a 119-110 overtime victory by the Lakers on Nov. 1 in Dallas.

James had 39 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds in 43 minutes. Doncic had 31 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds in 38 minutes. Doncic now has 14 career triple-doubles, two more before his 21st birthday than Magic Johnson (seven) and LeBron (five) combined before theirs.

So, naturally, when Luka totaled 42 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in a 117-110 win over the Spurs on Monday, LeBron was compelled to comment via Instagram.

“He’s one BAD MOFO!!!!!. I tried to tell y’all.”

Doncic is one of two players in NBA history to open a season with at least 250 points, 100 rebounds and 90 assists in his first 10 games. The other? A legend named Oscar Robertson.

After facing Luka for the first time, last December, Warriors All-Star Draymond Green didn’t bother to skimp on the praise.

"That dude good," Green said after a 120-116 Warriors win. "He got it. He going to be a problem. He already a problem, but he's going to be really good for a long time. He is exciting to watch. He has kind of lifted that franchise."

Luka was, at that time, 19. He had played a total of 30 NBA games.

But Doncic had been a pro, sort of, for six years, since he was 13. That is not a typo but was his age when he signed a five-year contract with Real Madrid to play on the under-16 team. He was 16 when he made his actual pro debut. At age 18, a month before he was drafted by the Mavericks, he became the youngest person to be named Euroleague MVP.

And now he’s banging on the door of the NBA’s MVP discussion that centers mostly on Houston’s James Harden, who won it in 2018, and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, who won it last season.

Luka is the primary reason Dallas (8-5) is fifth in the Western Conference and making a bid to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. He has help -- notably seven-foot-three Kristaps Porzingis -- but Doncic is this team’s wheels, motor, horn and hood ornament.

“This guy can do anything he wants to on a basketball court," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, a former teammate of Bird, told reporters in Dallas on Monday. "He's having one of those magical runs right now. It's a phenomenal thing to watch It's a phenomenal thing to be a part of."

And here come the Warriors, who aren’t the rampaging bunch of recent years but have gotten much better after being the NBA’s worst defense through the first 12 games.

With D’Angelo Russell – wonderful on offense, generally nonchalant on defense – sidelined with a hand injury, coach Steve Kerr is starting his best defensive lineup. The guards: Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks. The forwards: Eric Paschall and Green, who assumes point guard duties on offense. The center: Willie Cauley-Stein. With them playing the bulk of the minutes over the last three games, the team’s defensive rating (103.0) is fifth-best in the league.

[RELATED: Warriors' hard work finally 'rewarded' with win in Memphis]

If the Warriors bring their best stuff, they have a chance. It’s only a chance, though, because the kid isn’t partial to being contained.

Warriors' hard work finally 'rewarded' with skid-busting win in Memphis

Warriors' hard work finally 'rewarded' with skid-busting win in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- For much of the young season, the Warriors have been in search of a small piece of continuity. 

With three of its four All-Star pieces out due to injury, the quest has been arduous for the Warriors, leading to the team's longest losing streak in since 2012. 

Those troubles momentarily paused when the Warriors beat the Grizzlies 114-95 on Tuesday to snap a seven-game losing streak while validating the progress the team has made in recent weeks. 

"I'm happy for the guys," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "They've been playing hard and working hard and It's good to see them rewarded."

Tuesday's win comes as the Warriors have played just well enough to lose in recent games. In Friday's loss to the Celtics, the team held the Eastern Conference leaders to just 40 percent from the field, with Boston guard Kemba Walker making just 6 of his 19 shots. Two days later, the Warriors held the battered Pelicans to 41 percent from the field, before losing 108-100. Entering Tuesday, the team allowed teams to shoot just 41.1 percent over their last two outings. 

Keeping with a recent trend, Golden State held the Grizzlies to just 40 percent from the field and forcing 14 turnovers. Rookie of the Year candidate Ja Morant struggled much, making just 7-of-20 from the field as the Warriors diversified its defensive sets for most of the night. 

"We came out and competed hard and executed the gameplan like we talked about and I'm proud of the guys," Warriors forward Glenn Robinson said. "I knew it was coming because of the way we played, we're trying to play hard and play the right way." 

"I think we just challenged ourselves," Warriors forward Draymond Green added. "That's something we've talked a lot about, getting better on the defensive end and we've been stepping up to the challenge." 

For much of the season, the team's defensive woes have coincided with its uncommon rash of injuries. The trend started on the eve of training camp when the Warriors announce Willie Cauley-Stein would miss most of October with a foot strain. Two days later, rookie Alen Smailagic rolled his ankle and Looney strained his hamstring in the same controlled scrimmage. 

In the last month, Curry broke his hand, sidelining the guard until at least February. Two nights later, forward Green tore a ligament in his left index finger. Last week, two-way guard Damion Lee fractured his hand. All the while, one of the league's most vaunted defense has plummeted to last in the league. 

Even as injuries mounted, signs of promise were apparent around the locker room. Rookie Eric Paschall is averaging 16.7 points and 4.8 rebounds, including a 30-point performance in Sunday's loss to the Pelicans. Veteran guard Alec Burk -- who signed a one-year contract with the team last summer -- is averaging 13.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 11 games. 

"The great thing with these guys is they've stayed with it every step of the way," Kerr said. "They haven't taken a day off, they haven't stopped working." 

[RELATED: Warriors get good news on Looney, Smailagic]

"You can definitely see that there's some improvement," Green added. "And with the improvement, we've been talking after each game about 'We're getting there, we're getting there, just keep on working.'" 

While their recent play has been promising, the real progress will be dictated by what the Warriors have been about for nearly a decade. 

"We've also been talking about don't get comfortable with just being there," Green said. "Don't get comfortable with 'Hey we're getting better.' Let's try to make this 'Hey, we're getting better' equal some wins."