Warriors takeaways: What we learned in narrow 112-106 loss vs. Suns

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in narrow 112-106 loss vs. Suns


PHOENIX -- It's a matchup that has yielded good results for Golden State in recent years, but in Wednesday's 112-106 loss, the Phoenix Suns reminded the Warriors just how far they've fallen. 

The defeat marked Golden State's fourth straight and the first time Phoenix has taken the season series over the Warriors since 2011. 

Suns guard Devin Booker scored 27 points as his team shot nearly 38 percent from 3-point range in a game Phoenix led most of the evening. 

Wednesday's game marked the Warriors last before the All-Star break, providing an eight-day break for the battered roster. 

Here are the takeaways from a loss that had some silver linings to it:

Sloppy play 

On most nights, the Warriors are at a competitive disadvantage based on their talent. They compounded that Wednesday with some dreadful offensive moments, committing 22 turnovers on the night. 

Golden State's troubles were evident from the start, as the Warriors committed nine turnovers in the first quarter. By the end of the first half, they committed 13 giveaways as the Suns took an eight-point lead into halftime. At night's end, the Warriors had nearly as many turnovers as assists (27). 

In recent years, Golden State's Hall of Fame-level talent could overcome such performances. Now, with much of that talent gone or injured, taking care of the ball is vital. 

Wiggins better than advertised

Andrew Wiggins has churned in some solid performances since he was acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves last week. On Wednesday, he continued the trend, finishing with 27 points, four rebounds, five assists, two steals and four blocks. 

Upon arrival, Wiggins was maligned for his defense and effort, causing some NBA observers to call the 24-year old a "bust". He displayed no such issues Wednesday evening, routinely challenging shots while carrying the offensive load. 

Wiggins development is imperative to Golden State's future success. If the Warriors plan to compete for titles, his defense will have to be more consistent. Wednesday was the latest positive step towards that goal. 

[RELATED: Why Kerr compares Wiggins to puzzle piece for Dubs' future]

Chriss shows out in old home

Marquese Chriss has had a rollercoaster season thus far. On Wednesday, he continued to make it all worth it, finishing with 18 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.

The big man got going early, scoring 12 first-half points, showing a diverse skillset along the way. Four minutes into the game, he blocked former teammate Devin Booker at the rim, leading to a fast-break opportunity on the other end. Two minutes later, he caught a lob pass from Wiggins, giving Golden State a two-point lead. 

The performance coincides with Chriss' mini-tear of late. Four days ago, he scored a career-high 26 points against the Lakers. On Monday, he followed that performance up with 17 points against the Heat. 

The location was also noteworthy. Chriss spent his first two seasons in Phoenix, never winning more than 24 games, earning a reputation of being immature along the way. Now, in Golden State, Chriss has the chance to earn a spot in the team's future plans. So far, he's taking advantage of the opportunity.

How new NBA draft rules affect Warriors' ability to evaluate prospects

How new NBA draft rules affect Warriors' ability to evaluate prospects

The global coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the world, affecting how businesses function. For the NBA, the COVID-19 virus has the league's season in peril.

In the latest twist, the league is adjusting how team personnel can evaluate NBA draft prospects, and it could have a direct impact on what the Warriors do with one of the top overall picks.

The latest rule changes, reported by The Athletic and ESPN on Monday, will affect teams' preparation for the 2020 NBA Draft, which is scheduled to be held June 25 in Brooklyn, New York. Under the new structure, which adheres to social distancing guidelines, teams will be permitted to spend up to four hours in virtual meetings with a prospect during the pre-draft process. Of that time, teams can only spend two hours per week talking to each prospect.

In-person workouts or requesting that a player workout via live video have been prohibited by the league, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported.

While the rule change hurts most prospects, players like center James Wiseman and guard LaMelo Ball are greatly hindered by the development.

And the Warriors' ability to properly evaluate Wiseman and Ball is equally affected.

In just 12 games in his lone season in Australia's NBL, Ball averaged 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.8 assists before a foot injury cut his season short. Despite averaging double digits, he shot just 37 percent from the field against inferior competition. Ball hasn't played in a game since late November.

Meanwhile, Wiseman averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds in just three college appearances before withdrawing from Memphis amid recruiting violations. His last game was on Nov. 12.

There just isn't a lot of recent video of either player for teams to evaluate.

Each player will be subjected to digital video chats featuring general managers, coaches and front office staff. The setup isn't ideal for either side.

Players -- especially those with something to prove like Wiseman -- where hoping to make an impression on teams who have limited film. In Ball's case, he wanted a chance to show he has improved his weaknesses

For teams, it strips away the ability to evaluate a player in person, which helps get a better grasp of the human element, similar to the final step of a job interview.

[RELATED: Warriors not high on Wiseman, Ball]

The first test case of this practice is the NFL, who will hold the first virtual draft in its history later this month. Only the NFL has been able to hold its combine last month, giving teams a chance to interview players in person, providing an advantage NBA team personnel do not have. 

The Warriors personnel, along with the rest of the league, will have their work cut out for them as the coronavirus timeline continues to define a new normal for sports.

Chris Paul hilariously explains why he fake laughed at Steve Kerr joke

Chris Paul hilariously explains why he fake laughed at Steve Kerr joke

Chris Paul can laugh at some, but not all, of his history with the Warriors.

The hyper-competitive Oklahoma City Thunder point guard joked in an Instagram Live session Monday with Steph Curry about the two-time MVP's ankle-breaking crossover on Paul when he was a member of the Los Angeles Clippers. But Paul said Monday that his often-GIF'd fake laugh from an on-court conversation with Steve Kerr is, well, no laughing matter.

Kerr cracked wise with Paul, by then a member of the Houston Rockets, during the Warriors' 116-108 loss in Houston on Jan. 20, 2018. Paul hadn't forgotten the bad blood of the Clippers-Warriors rivalry from his LA days, carrying that tension to a team that the Warriors had eliminated in two of the preceding three postseasons.

The Warriors would bounce the Rockets in the 2018 Western Conference finals and again in the second round the following year. Golden State overcame a three-games-to-two series deficit in 2018 and then eliminated the Rockets in 2019 despite injuries to Kevin Durant and Andrew Bogut.

Both of Paul's playoff runs in Houston ended on the Rockets' home court at the Warriors' hands, and the Game 6 loss in last year's second round marked the final time he suited up for Houston. Paul was traded to the Thunder in exchange for Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook the following season.

[RELATED: Warriors' Paschall explains why he became two-foot jumper]

He wouldn't have had to worry about facing the Warriors this postseason, and Golden State was eliminated from playoff contention prior to the NBA suspending its season last month after Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Despite that, something tells me Paul won't laugh about his fake laugh any time soon.