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Warriors practice takeaways: What we learned in first Chase Center session

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AP

Warriors practice takeaways: What we learned in first Chase Center session

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Warriors practiced in Chase Center for the first time Friday afternoon in anticipation of Saturday afternoon's preseason opener against the Los Angeles Lakers. 

Golden State will be short-handed in the contest, with big men Kevon Looney, Willie Cauley-Stein and Alen Smailagic all out due to various injuries. 

To get you ready for Saturday, here are the biggest takeaways from Friday's practice.

Warriors look to find their rhythm

The Warriors enter the preseason in an unfamiliar spot. With eight new players -- just two older than 26 years old -- and three rookies, the Warriors will be looking to build chemistry instead of their usual practice of maintaining it. Against LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the learning curve will be steep.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr has simpler plans for his young group.  

"I want them to show they recognize our execution at both ends, what are we trying to do defensively," he said. "Scheme-wise, what our terminology is, can they make a call and get right into the action at both ends? That's kind of the first step into really understanding an identity for the team and those guys understanding what's being asked of them. To see it in a game setting will be really good for us." 

The Warriors will have to find their identity while their stars play limited minutes. Following Friday's practice, Kerr said Draymond Green and Stephen Curry would play no more than 20 minutes each. 

"If that," he said.

Over the last five years, the Warriors have been accustomed to championship-level rosters led by the superstar core of Green, Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson. Now with Durant gone and Thompson rehabbing a torn ACL, Curry and Green have become de facto assistant coaches.

Green, a long-time vocal leader known to use any means to get a point across, said he's taking a different approach with a young group. 

"There's no tough love right now," Green said. "You figure that stuff out as time goes on but none of us really know each other except a few so you can't give a guy you know tough love that's fake as hell. You're going to give somebody tough love [and] you don't know if you love them yet.

" ... A lot more teaching. For us guys who have been here for a while, it's a little difficult some of these practices. But that's the reality of [the situation, and] you kind of knew that coming in. So we're kind of playing the players' role, but also coaching a little bit as well, too. The coaches, they're definitely approaching this a little differently, which is to be expected."

Christening Chase Center

The Warriors completed the latest part of their move to San Francisco, christening Chase Center with their first practice in the building ahead of Saturday's preseason opener.

"It's beautiful in here," Kerr said. "I think our players really enjoy getting a feel for it before we come out here tomorrow night in a real game." 

In the last month, Golden State's staff has been moving across the Bay into the billion-dollar Mission Bay arena. Among the group is Kerr, who moved to San Francisco from the East Bay this week. He spent his off time Thursday finding a veterinarian for his dog, Luna. 

"I'm trying to figure out where to go to get my coffee in the morning so you have to figure out a new routine," Kerr said. "But it's kind of fun. We didn't move far, but we're moving into a brand-new life." 

Kerr is one of many feeling the move from the East Bay. When the team played in Oakland, most of the team settled in the surrounding areas, including Berkeley, Oakland and as far north as Alamo. While the team moved just eight miles from its downtown Oakland facility, many are still adjusting to another way of life. 

"I feel like a rookie all over again," Green added. "Just trying to figure my life out. Moving and where to go and how to beat traffic. I feel like a rookie again." 

[RELATED: Draymond intent on discovering 3-ball for new-look Dubs]

Center Conundrum

Looney and Smailagic have now both been ruled out for Saturday's game, while Cauley-Stein is out for the remainder of training camp. The Warriors will have to get creative in their place Saturday.

Golden State likely start Omari Spellman, a second-year pro acquired in an offseason trade with the Atlanta Hawks, at center. Green also will get time in the frontcourt.  

Jonathan Kuminga joining 2021 NBA Draft class is great for Warriors

Jonathan Kuminga joining 2021 NBA Draft class is great for Warriors

The Warriors aren't included in the Orlando bubble, reportedly don't have interest in participating in the still-to-be-confirmed Chicago bubble and likely won't play in another game until sometime in 2021 at the earliest.

And yet, Wednesday was a great day for Golden State.

That's because Jonathan Kuminga, who previously was ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2021 class, reclassified to the 2020 high school class Wednesday and will sign in the NBA's pro pathway program in the G League. The Athletic's Shams Charania was the first to report.

What does that have to do with the Warriors? Well, a lot can change between now and then, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that Golden State could select Kuminga in the very early stages of the 2021 NBA Draft.

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

The Warriors, of course, received the Minnesota Timberwolves' top-three protected 2021 first-round draft pick as part of the Andrew Wiggins-D'Angelo Russell trade. If the Timberwolves' pick ends up being one of the first three overall selections, the pick conveys to the 2022 NBA Draft and becomes unprotected.

The 2021 draft class has long been viewed as far more talented than the upcoming 2020 draft class, for which the Dubs are guaranteed to have a top-five pick. Assuming the T-Wolves don't surprise and become a playoff team, the Warriors could have an extremely valuable selection in a loaded draft.

It just became more loaded Wednesday with Kuminga's inclusion.

Since the earliest the Warriors could pick in the 2021 draft with the Timberwolves' selection would be No. 4 overall, the more high-end prospects that join the class, the more likely Golden State is to have one of them fall in its laps. Kuminga, along with Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green and Evan Mobley are widely viewed as can't-miss prospects, and obviously, they can't all go within the top three.

[RELATED: How Jalen Green to G League impacts Warriors, 2021 draft]

So, if the Warriors end up holding onto Minnesota's 2021 first-rounder, it would appear they are in a tremendous position to add a prospect that undoubtedly would have gone first overall in the upcoming 2020 draft. And if they don't, but rather include it in some sort of a trade package to acquire an established star, the value of that pick just went up.

The Warriors are intent on returning to championship-contender status while simultaneously building for the future. Kuminga's reclassification can only improve their chances of being successful in that endeavor. 

Ex-Warrior Omri Casspi tells incredible story of Steve Kerr's empathy

Ex-Warrior Omri Casspi tells incredible story of Steve Kerr's empathy

Former Warriors forward Omri Casspi recently had Golden State coach Steve Kerr on his podcast.

And the Israeli native started the episode by sharing an amazing story that highlights Kerr's empathy and compassion.

In December 2017, Casspi received an email from a family friend who delivered the tragic news that her son was diagnosed with a very advanced form of cancer.

"He loved the Warriors," Casspi said. "They were taking a trip to (the Bay Area) to see us play in some games. The kid is such a big fan of you, the team, Steph (Curry) and the rest of the guys. And people gotta understand that practice facilities in the NBA are like some sort of a temple.

"I don't remember any team that I played for allowing anyone into the practice facility during the season. I told you the story about the situation and you allowed them to come into practice.

"We had a balcony usually where the guests are staying during practice. I'll never forget it -- you went up there and insisted that the kid and his mom come down and watch practice from the court. One of the most famous teams of all time -- and a kid with cancer is able to experience that firsthand."

But it gets even better.

"I remember I was going through my daily routine shooting some shots after practice and I saw you talking to the mom," Casspi explained. "I said give me 20-30 minutes -- I'll shower, stretch, get my ice, etc -- I'll come back and take them to lunch. I came back 30-40 minutes after and I see you still there talking to the mom -- both of you with tears in your eyes. I'll never forget that picture.

"The next day, you upgraded their tickets, you took them backstage, you got them into the VIP lounge. Klay (Thompson) came over and gave them signed shoes. I remember the son literally with tears in his eyes."

Unfortunately, the story has a very sad ending.

"They flew back to Israel a couple days later (and) a couple of weeks after, the kid passed away," Casspi said. "I don't remember if I ever told you thank you. It's one of the most amazing things a human being can do. Thank you."

Kerr then offered his perspective.

"I've always felt that the most important thing that we can do as NBA players and coaches is bring joy to people," he said. "To our fans, but more importantly to people who are struggling ... moments like that always are very grounding, they're very humbling and very emotional.

"They're very important for all of us. I'm glad that visit made such an impact."

Kerr truly is an incredible person.

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