'Warriors small forward' NBA's worst position group, John Hollinger says

'Warriors small forward' NBA's worst position group, John Hollinger says

If Alfonzo McKinnie, Glenn Robinson III, Alec Burks and Jacob Evans woke up Wednesday looking for any motivation, they certainly received it.

John Hollinger of The Athletic -- who spent the last seven seasons in the Memphis Grizzlies' front office -- released his Pacific Division preview.

To say he doesn't believe in those four Warriors players would be quite the understatement:

Just finding a fifth starter is a challenge. “Warriors small forward” is the worst position group of any team in the league. Alec Burks dribbles too much and doesn’t defend enough, but he may end up starting simply by virtue of him not being Alfonzo McKinnie or Glenn Robinson. Behind them, Jacob Evans was the eighth-best player on his G-League team. If first-round pick Jordan Poole flashes any ability at all, he may end up finishing games in three-guard fronts with Russell and Curry.

The Warriors compounded their depth issues with a bizarre decision to trade Shabazz Napier’s and Treveon Graham’s minimum contracts by paying $3 million to Minnesota to take them. Golden State could have just paid somebody the same amount to take the since-waived Shaun Livingston and his $2 million cap hit instead.

Alternatively, the Warriors could have retained Napier and Graham and not signed Burks or Robinson. Napier was decent in Brooklyn last year and would have helped on a minimum deal, while Graham is a low-ceiling grinder but certainly not any worse than McKinnie or Robinson.


Just to be clear -- Hollinger isn't just saying the Dubs have the worst group of small forwards in the NBA. He's saying it's the single worst group regardless of position.

At this point, nobody knows whose name the Warriors' PA announcer will say when the starting lineups are introduced before the season opener against the Clippers on Oct. 24.

“We’re just really teaching so much and trying to put things in place right now that I haven’t had a chance to really assess who is where in that race, for who is going to start and who is going to play,” coach Steve Kerr said Tuesday. “They’re all competing.”

This is how the candidates performed in the preseason opener last Saturday against the Lakers:

-McKinnie: seven points, six rebounds, two assists, one block in 21 minutes (he started).
-Robinson: four points, three rebounds, two assists, one block in 17 minutes
-Burks: DNP (sprained ankle)
-Evans: nine points, one rebound in 19 minutes

It seems unlikely that Kerr would go with the rookie Poole, but he definitely flashed ability -- 17 points (5-for-11 overall, 4-for-9 3s) in 23 minutes.

[RELATEDPoole shows why Dubs took him in first round of NBA Draft]

Fellow rookie Eric Paschall is an under-the-radar option, and he certainly held his own despite falling victim to an aggressive LeBron James on multiple occasions.

Kerr and the coaching staff hope that somebody separates from the pack and makes the decision easy. But it's possible it ends up being a game-by-game situation.

When you lose Kevin Durant and find yourself in a "hard-capped" state, stuff like this happens.

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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.