Warriors

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 126-93 preseason loss to Lakers

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 126-93 preseason loss to Lakers

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The Warriors on Wednesday night got their first -- and what they hope will be last -- look at themselves without Stephen Curry, and the picture that emerged was predictably hideous.

With their halting efforts at defense consistently exploited and their offense failing to materialize, the Warriors suffered through a 126-93 preseason loss to a Lakers team that showed not a moment of mercy at Staples Center.

Curry is healthy but was given the night off, joining a long list of injured Warriors on the sideline. Though he may have made a difference, the Lakers seemed to be on a mission to destroy.

Here are three quick takeaways from a game for which the video review will be unkind to the Warriors:

One for Russell’s trash bin

Curry’s absence gave D'Angelo Russell his first chance to orchestrate the action, and it did not go well. Indeed, it often looked like that bad (17-65) Lakers team D-Lo joined as a rookie in 2015.

And Russell definitely contributed to the defensive mess with numerous blown assignments, late switches and a couple plays when he simply failed to engage.

To make matters worse, Russell didn’t offset things with his offense. Though he scored a team-high 23 points on 8-of-17 shooting (3-of-8 from beyond the arc), he also had more turnovers than assists (four to three) and never seemed to generate any offensive rhythm for the team.

Perhaps this is all part of the development process. He has spent plenty of time working with Curry, during the offseason and thus far this preseason. The two often display a measure of comfort when playing off each other.

With Curry out, Russell appeared to be trapped by a measure of uncertainty, thinking rather than playing. That’s not unusual when there are such unfamiliar surroundings.

Defense exposed again

As the Lakers were running layup drills, 3-point shooting exhibitions and baseline-to-baseline fastbreaks, the Warriors did a little bit of reaching and a lot of watching.

Two nights after coach Steve Kerr urged improvement on defense, the Warriors allowed LA to roll up 104 points in the first three quarters -- before LeBron James and Anthony Davis retired in the fourth -- while shooting 61.5 percent (40-of-65) from the field, including a staggering 60.9 percent (14-of-23) from deep.

LeBron James, now cast as a point guard, did whatever he pleased, something that can happen against even the strongest opposition. He produced 18 points (6-of-9 from the field), 11 assists and four rebounds in 25 minutes.

The Warriors did complete Kerr’s other primary request, which was to reduce the number of fouls. They committed only 16 through the first three quarters -- the “competitive” portion of the game -- after being blown for 28 on Monday night.

The Warriors are going to be able to score, but their fate and placement will be dictated by defense. It is their greatest challenge, and there was no sign of it on this night.

Chriss has to make the roster

As the front office convenes in the coming days to make decisions about the roster, the Marquese Chriss debate will be brief and one-sided.

Has Chriss earned a spot on the roster? Yes.

His presence is required partly out of sheer need, as he is the only healthy “center” on the team. Kevon Looney (hamstring strain) is questionable for opening night. Willie Cauley-Stein (mid-foot sprain) is not expected back until November. Omari Spellman, a forward masquerading as a center, tweaked his back Monday and was sidelined Wednesday.

Chriss, at 6-foot-10, 240 pounds, also happens to be playing well. In 25 minutes, he totaled eight points and four rebounds. Though he splashed a triple in the first quarter, this was the least impressive of his four games this preseason.

[RELATED: Why John Oliver name-dropped Chriss in NBA-China monologue]

The big man has his ponderous moments when he seems to lose focus, but he has done some of everything, and done most of it well.

This wasn’t his best game as a Warrior, but it was enough to prove he belongs.

Why Warriors' next 10 games offer chance to encourage somber fan base

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USATSI

Why Warriors' next 10 games offer chance to encourage somber fan base

If any stretch of the season is ideal for the Warriors to toss their starving fans four or five crumbs, it is the next 10 games, beginning Monday night against the Grizzlies.

Reason No. 1: The Warriors are about as healthy as they’re going to be for at least the next three months. They could suit up 12 players against Memphis.

Reason No. 2: They’re at home for eight of the next 10 games, and the only back-to-back set comes on the last weekend of December.

Reason No. 3: They’re staring directly at the best opportunity they’ll have this season to string together three consecutive victories.

Reason No. 4: The trade market swings wide open on Dec. 15, and productive players are vastly more attractive to teams seeking someone able to help in the second half of the season and, possibly, the playoffs.

And it doesn’t hurt that from a realistic and long-range viewpoint, a solidly competitive three weeks could build good habits without sacrificing the likelihood of finishing with a record that would assure a premium lottery pick. There will be plenty of games marked with an “L.”

Let’s take a game-by-game look at the next 10:

Monday night: Grizzlies at home

Under Steve Kerr, the Warriors once went 145 games without back-to-back losses. With Grizzlies' team engine Ja Morant coping with a balky back – he has missed the last four games – this is an excellent chance put some life in Chase Center with their first consecutive wins this season.

Win probability: Very high.

Wednesday night: Knicks at home

It’s the Knicks, on their first swing through Western Conference, on the second night of a back-to-back set. Enough said.

Win probability: Very high.

Friday night: Jazz away

Even with the tremendous Warriors teams of recent seasons, playing at altitude on the road was never a walk. Mike Conley’s hamstring is barking, but Emmanuel Mudiay is playing well.

Win probability: Very low.

Dec. 15: Kings at home

The first meeting this season between Kerr and former assistant Luke Walton, and also the first reunion of former Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein and his former teammates. One question: Can Cauley-Stein bring intensity? Another question: Who can guard Sacramento gunslinger Buddy Hield?

Win probability: Medium.

Dec. 18: Trail Blazers away

Tough place to win with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Tougher to win without them. The Dame-CJ-Melo trio poses problems for a Warriors defense than can be exploited. This game will need the best of Draymond Green at both ends, and some loud offense from Eric Paschall.

Win probability: Low.

Dec. 20: Pelicans at home

Will Zion be back? It doesn’t look likely. Has anybody seen Derrick Favors? New Orleans is a mess right now, and a turnaround in the next couple weeks seems unlikely.

Win probability: High.

Dec. 23: Timberwolves at home

Minny is one of only four teams to beat the Warriors at least once in each of the last four seasons, and those Warriors were four levels better than this year's squad. Coach Ryan Saunders seems to have unlocked the secret to Andrew Wiggins’ potential. But this is the second of three straight games in the Pacific time zone.

Win probability: Medium.

Dec. 25: Rockets at home

The simple game plan is to keep James Harden off the free-throw line and force Russell Westbrook to launch jump shots. If either fails to find a rhythm – and there’s a decent chance of that – the Warriors can pull off the upset.

Win probability: Low.

[RELATED: Warriors reportedly "not pushing" to trade D-Lo right now]

Dec. 27: Suns at home

The Suns are dealing with the growing pains that come with a new coach determined to change the culture. They’re quite good some nights, quite unsightly on others. But they have two players, Devin Booker and Kelly Oubre Jr., that are capable of causing problems. Big man Deandre Ayton will back by then and will have had a couple weeks of conditioning.

Win probability: Medium.

Dec. 28: Mavericks at home

It was widely believed the Mavericks might be good enough find a low seed to the playoffs, but Luka is trying to take them even higher. It’s Luka Time, and the Warriors – on Night No. 2 of a back-to-back – must be at their best to avoid being another canvas for this kid’s wizardry.

Win probability: Low.

NBA rumors: Warriors 'not pushing' to trade guard D'Angelo Russell now

NBA rumors: Warriors 'not pushing' to trade guard D'Angelo Russell now

When the Warriors acquired D'Angelo Russell as part of Kevin Durant's sign-and-trade with the Nets this past offseason and signed the star point guard to a four-year, $117 million contract, it seemed like a bit of an odd fit.

How would Russell fit with fellow point guard Steph Curry? What about when shooting guard Klay Thompson became healthy? More than anything, it looked like Golden State added a great trade asset. 

But the Warriors reportedly are in no rush to trade D-Lo. 

“If it is something that they’re going to do quickly, like before the end of this month, I wouldn’t say they’re pushing for it,” one NBA general manager recently said to Heavy.com's Sean Deveney. “Maybe they have a deal in mind, maybe they’re sitting on something and laying low. But I’d be surprised.

"That’s not how they’d approach it, I’d think. You want to create a market if you are going to trade a player like him, you want to pit teams against each other, drive up the price. You don’t want to lock into one deal. But the market thing, that’s not really happening yet. They’re not pushing the market for him.”

If the Warriors do indeed have a trade in mind, they soon can start taking calls. The NBA's collective bargaining agreement prohibits the Dubs from parting ways with Russell until Dec. 15. 

Since acquiring the All-Star, general manager Bob Myers has made it clear the Warriors aren't trying to get rid of Russell. 

"We didn't sign him with the intention of just trading him," Myers said to reporters on July 15. 

Russell has been a bright spot on the 5-19 Warriors when healthy. He has been limited to only 12 games while dealing with a sprained right thumb, but has averaged a career-high 22.3 points, 6.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game. 

[RELATED: Why R.J. Hampton and LaMelo Ball might interest Warriors]

The Warriors truly won't be able to evaluate the 23-year-old's future with the team until he has played more with Curry and the rest of the injured Dubs.

Golden State has until the Feb. 7 trade deadline to move Russell, but as of now, that doesn't seem to be at the top of the team's priority list.