Warriors' young players happy to get so many minutes but hungry to win

Warriors' young players happy to get so many minutes but hungry to win

SAN FRANCISCO -- Sitting on a makeshift stage, Steph Curry perfectly encapsulated the Warriors’ season, less than an hour before their latest loss Monday.

Bearing an unorthodox cast to protect his broken left hand, Curry represented the latest Golden State All-Star to injure himself in the first month of the season.

In that wake, the Warriors -- five months removed from a Western Conference title and bearing just five healthy players with playoff experience on their current roster -- now are relegated to a new mantra as the season progresses.

“Stay positive," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the 122-108 loss to the Jazz at Chase Center. "Come in and get our work in."

Kerr's spirit was evident in spurts. During the first quarter, D'Angelo Russell scored 18 of his team-high 33 points, helping the Warriors pull within four points by the end of the frame. After the Jazz outscored them 35-24 in the second quarter, the Warriors cut a 20-point deficit in half, leading to a familiar type of defeat.

Two nights ago, they found themselves down 23 to the Thunder, only to come back and lose in the final minutes, much to their coach's chagrin.

This season is new territory for the Warriors. Over his first five seasons in Golden State, Kerr won 78 percent of his games, overseeing one of the best runs in NBA history and winning three titles. By the end of Monday night, the Warriors were a league-worst 2-9, even if their coach found a silver lining.

"They have a lot to play for," Kerr said. "All these guys. So it's discouraging to be 2-9, but it’s a long season, and there's no reason we can't get on a run and win some games and start to feel better about things."

While Golden State’s roster is young and injuries have mounted, a look around the locker room tells a different story: Young players are losing regularly for the first time in their lives.

On one side, Jordan Poole -- known for his game-winning shot that sent Michigan to the Sweet 16 -- owns a personal record of 63-15 in two college seasons. On the other side, fellow rookie Eric Paschall won a national championship during his three years at Villanova.

"It's weird," Paschall admitted to NBC Sports Bay Area about losing. "But you just learn.

“It's a different time. You're in the NBA now. There's a lot of great players. So, it's part of it."

Even as Curry drew out his rehab schedule in front of a crowded room before Monday’s game, Golden State's orbit still revolves around him and Klay Thompson, who tore his ACL during the NBA Finals last season. Both could return from their injuries in the spring, even if championship aspirations won't follow, giving the Warriors’ young and unproven and players one more motivation this season: Have a great audition for when the games start to count again.

[RELATED: Why Steph Curry, Klay Thompson should return if healthy]

"I'm very excited," Paschall admitted. "I feel like we're going to be all right. The fact that we're getting these reps with these young guys means a lot because now when they do come back, we know what we're doing.

“It's not all bad at the end of the day, but we still want to win."

Warriors' Draymond Green out, Eric Paschall doubtful Friday vs. Jazz

Warriors' Draymond Green out, Eric Paschall doubtful Friday vs. Jazz

It's always tough to beat the Jazz in Utah, as the Warriors were reminded last month. Golden State was going to be a massive underdog Friday night as it was, and Thursday's injury report certainly won't change that.

After suffering an embarrassing home overtime loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday, the Dubs will try to right the ship against Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert & Co., but they'll have to do it without at least one of their best players -- and we don't mean Steph Curry or Klay Thompson.

Draymond Green is listed as out (rest) for Friday's game at Vivint Smart Home Arena, while rookie Eric Paschall is doubtful with left hip soreness. Additionally, both Ky Bowman and Alen Smailagic are on G League assignment. 

[RELATED: Dubs' Bowman won't play vs. Jazz, will make G League debut]

With Green out and Paschall doubtful, one would expect Golden State's (relatively) healthy bigs like Kevon Looney and Marquese Chriss to get some extended playing time against the Jazz.

Why Gary Payton believes Warriors' Steph Curry isn't true point guard


Why Gary Payton believes Warriors' Steph Curry isn't true point guard

You might think of Steph Curry as a point guard.

After all, he's short, brings the ball up the court sometimes and appears on the far left of those nifty starting lineup graphics prior to tip-off with PG next to his name.

But in this age of run-and-gun positionless basketball, is Curry really a point guard? Not if you ask Gary Payton.

In fact, the nine-time NBA All-Star believes there only are two true point guards left in The Association.

"That's a question that is kind of difficult for old people," Payton told NBC Sports Bay Area's Logan Murdock and Kerith Burke on the "Runnin' Plays Podcast" when asked about the best point guards in today's game. "You look at Stephen Curry. You put him as a point guard. He's not a point guard. He's a two-guard. You look at [Russell] Westbrook. He's not a point guard. He's a two-guard. You look at James Harden. He's not a point guard, he's a two-guard.

"To me, there are only two guards in this league that are true point guards. That's [Rajon] Rondo and Chris Paul. 

"Now, Chris Paul has turned into a shooting guard more, but Rondo is a true point guard," Payton continued. "He looks first to get people off. He does his defense and he makes people better around him. Not, let me score 30. Not, let me shoot a jump shot first. He's not doing that ... If we name a lot of point guards that's right now in this NBA, they are not point guards."

At least Harden can finally be in the same category as Steph, right?

[RELATED: Loss to Knicks shows Warriors have earned NBA's worst record]

While Steph might not be the prototypical point guard in the old-fashioned sense, there's no doubt he'll one day be enshrined in Springfield, Mass., as one of the greatest scoring guards in NBA history.

In any era, that's pretty, pretty good.