Warriors

Warriors vs. the West: How Dubs match up against Spurs in 2019-20

Warriors vs. the West: How Dubs match up against Spurs in 2019-20

For the first time in five seasons, the Warriors find themselves in new territory entering the 2019-20 season. With Kevin Durant gone to the Brooklyn Nets, Klay Thompson rehabbing his surgically repaired left ACL and eight new players on the roster, the Warriors are not the preseason NBA title favorites. 

As the Warriors reconcile a new reality, the rest of the Western Conference has retooled with superstar talent. Over the next seven days, NBC Sports Bay Area will examine teams that are expected to challenge Golden State's Western Conference throne.

First up: The San Antonio Spurs. 

Offseason transactions

In an offseason dominated by superstar player movement, the Spurs biggest summer splash was the re-signing of forward Rudy Gay, who agreed to a two-year, $32 million contract. Gay averaged 13.7 points in one of the most efficient series of his career. 

Joining Gay in San Antonio was DeMarre Carroll, who was acquired in a sign-and-trade with Brooklyn and agreeed to a three-year, $20.65 million contract. 

Spurs rounded out the roster signing big man Trey Lyles and drafting Luka Šamanić, Keldon Johnson, Quinndary Weatherspoon. But perhaps the biggest addition will be the return of point guard DeJounte Murray, who missed last season with a torn ACL. 

Strengths

The biggest strength the Spurs have maintained since Tim Duncan's retirement is coach Gregg Popovich. Despite the departure of Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio won 48 games behind the core of DeMar DeRozen and LaMarcus Aldridge. While DeRozen shot a career-high 48 percent from the field, Aldridge had one of most efficient seasons of his career, averaging 21 points and nine rebounds on 51.9 percent.

With the duo's effectiveness, the Spurs were among the best shooting teams in the league last season, making 47 percent of their shots, second only to the Warriors. 

Under Popovich's leadership, the Spurs have made the playoffs the last 22 seasons, a streak that should continue with the current roster.

Weaknesses

The Spurs were one of the worst defensive teams in the league, posting a 110.5 defensive rating -- 11th worst in the league. 

Part of the slump could be attributed to the absence of Murray, the team's best perimeter defender, and Leonard's departure to Toronto. However, with the additions of Carroll and Murray, the unit should improve.  

How the Warriors match up

With eight new players on the roster, the Warriors have very little idea of how cohesive the team will be by their first matchup against the Spurs on Nov. 1 in San Francisco. Worse - with Andre Iguodala traded to Memphis and Thompson out - the Warriors will be without two of last year's top perimeter defenders.

[RELATED: What Steph thinks of Chase Center]

Compounding their wing defensive woes, Willie Cauley Stein is the only true center on on the Warriors roster, meaning Golden State could struggle against Aldridge in the frontcourt.

Until the Warriors find a defensive identity, the Spurs could be a problem this season.

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 108-100 loss to depleted Pelicans

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 108-100 loss to depleted Pelicans

BOX SCORE

Coming into town to face an injury-depleted team on the second night of a back-to-back set, the Warriors appeared to be in reasonably good position win their third game of the season.

Instead, they took their 12th defeat – and seventh in a row.

The Warriors, nearly as diminished by injuries, took a tip-to-buzzer 108-100 loss to the Pelicans on Sunday night at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.

Four players scored in double figures, led by Eric Paschall’s game-high 30 points, but the Warriors (2-12) were outrebounded and outshot, particularly from the 3-point line by the Pelicans (3-10).

Here are three takeaways from a defeat that saddled the Warriors with their longest losing streak since they dropped eight straight in April 2012:

Defense rests, is burned by triples

The Warriors displayed signs of coming out of their defensive malaise in taking the Celtics down to the wire two nights ago. Outrebounding Boston allowed them to better set up their defense, and the results were encouraging.

That level of defensive aggression and execution didn’t make the trip to New Orleans.

The Warriors were particularly vulnerable defending the 3-point arc.

The Pelicans, who entered as the fifth-best 3-point shooting team the league, took advantage, launching at will. They drained nine triples in the first half, as JJ Redick, one of the more proficient deep shooters in NBA history and undoubtedly on the scouting report, repeatedly got open looks and buried five 3-balls before halftime. He scored a team-high 26 points.

That New Orleans shot 39.1 percent (18-of-46) from deep is clear evidence that any defensive progress displayed by the Warriors two days earlier against a quality opponent went into deep regression against an inferior team.

More points for Paschall

With D’Angelo Russell out of the lineup, the Warriors have an urgent need for scoring. Enter Eric Paschall.

On a night when offense was hard to come by, Paschall kept the Warriors in the game early, with 24 points through the first three quarters, when no other Warrior had more than 11.

Operating both inside and outside, Paschall’s 30 points came on 10-of-17 shooting, including 2-of-4 from beyond the arc. He also was 8-of-10 from the free throw line. Playing 35 minutes, he also grabbed seven rebounds.

Paschall now has two games with at least 30 points, four with at least 20 and nine in which he scored in double figures.

The powerfully built rookie is, at this point, the team’s most effective scorer. In effect, he has become the Warriors’ go-to guy.

[RELATED: Draymond, Bowman to take over while Russell is out]

Waiting for Jordan

The Warriors drafted Jordan Poole in the first round June believing he had the goods to become their next great deep shooter. His work in the preseason did little to argue against that.

But it’s not happening in the regular season, and this night was the latest in an ever-extending line of futile performances.

Coming off the bench for the second consecutive game, Poole was scoreless over 23 minutes, with 0-of-7 shooting from the field, including 0-of-3 from beyond the arc.

If ever there was a game when his scoring touch was desperately needed – and surely would have made a difference – this was it.

Warriors to use Ky Bowman, Draymond Green in D'Angelo Russell's place

Warriors to use Ky Bowman, Draymond Green in D'Angelo Russell's place

The Warriors got some bad news when D'Angelo Russell's MRI confirmed a sprained right thumb that will keep him out of the lineup for at least two weeks, but their coach actually was a bit relieved.

"I was concerned that it was going to be worse," Steve Kerr told the media Saturday, "so a couple weeks, you know, we can handle. If this had been something more severe, we would have been in some real trouble. So, we'll deal with it and I'm glad it's not worse. We look forward to getting him back, but in the meantime, we've got four games on the road. We've got to figure out a way to hold down the fort."

Golden State will play the first of those four consecutive road games Sunday in New Orleans against the short-handed Pelicans, and Kerr has a plan for how the Warriors will fill the point guard spot in Russell's absence.

"Draymond [Green] will play a lot of point, and Ky [Bowman] will have the ball in his hands quite a bit," Kerr said. "We're down to nine players, and really only two real guards I would say, with Jordan [Poole] and Ky. So our wings are going to have to handle the ball quite a bit, and Draymond is really good in a facilitating role anyway, so Draymond will handle the ball quite a bit."

Bowman, who is on a two-way contract, didn't seem phased by the promotion.

"I just go out there and play my role," Bowman said. "That's scoring, that's defense ... just play my role."

The Warriors didn't expect to rely on Bowman as much as they have in the early part of the season, but they've had to out of necessity with the injuries to Russell, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Despite being a consistent member of the rotation, he conceded that people ask him more about his teammates than his own experience.

"What are the players like, really," Bowman replied when questioned as to what fans ask him. "What is Draymond like. That's what everybody wants to know."

[RELATED: Slew of Warriors’ injuries hinders young core’s development]

Perhaps they'll have some different questions for him over the next couple weeks.