Warriors

Ask Kerith: Do red-hot Warriors still have needs to fill?

Warriors
  • Editor’s note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors reporter, takes you inside the team as only she can throughout the season with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter and Instagram, @KerithBurke.

With a 12-2 record, the Warriors are the best team in the NBA after shutting down the Nets on their home court while “MVP!” chants rang out for Steph Curry. 

Tonight they begin a back-to-back set with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons, with a chance to come home 3-1 on this road trip.

Coach Steve Kerr gave the recipe for success in any NBA season: Dominate your home games, and win about half your road games.

The season looks promising. More than promising. Let’s get to your questions.

There are three main reasons why the Warriors are the best team in the NBA currently. 

First, they’re healthy. This is especially noticeable for Steph Curry and Draymond Green. When an MVP candidate and Defensive Player of the Year candidate start the season well, everyone follows.

Second, the team is deeper. When the Warriors put an emphasis on development last season, the front office promised they would make moves to put the team back in contention this season. Steph, Draymond, and Klay Thompson only have so many years left in their primes. 

This season’s supporting cast is stronger. The team has more offensive firepower, and more veterans to stabilize the team. No matter who you are, an 82-game regular season is turbulent. 

Third, the defense is better. They have a defensive rating of 98.9, best in the league. They’re contesting shots well, getting in passing lanes, and creating turnovers to frustrate opponents. They’re averaging ten steals and five blocks per game.

 

This roster is well-rounded, energetic, and smart. 

At this point, the Warriors have no glaring need on the team. 

They’ve started well, and it’s not a mirage based on a favorable schedule during the first weeks of the season. The win over Brooklyn and the way the Dubs frustrated Kevin Durant and James Harden should quiet anyone waiting for proof this team is for real. 

The chemistry is great, and this is without Klay Thompson and James Wiseman in the mix. Both of those guys bring good attitudes, which feels like an understatement. 

There is no big missing piece in the roster composition, so I don’t see an urgency for a trade this season. The front office may listen to offers around the deadline out of curiosity.

Next year however, the team will look different. A quick look at Hoops Hype helped jog my memory. The Warriors cobbled this team together with one-year vet minimums for Andre Iguodala, Otto Porter Jr and Nemanja Bjelica.

Kevon Looney, Damion Lee, and Juan Toscano-Anderson have expiring contracts. Gary Payton Jr. is on a one-year deal. 

That’s seven players with their futures up in the air. I think personnel changes are a conversation for the off-season. 

Fan-favorite Juan Toscano-Anderson got a DNP versus the Hornets, and in the last three games where he has played, it’s been for seven minutes or fewer. On a deep team, he’s moved down or out of the rotation. 

That’s a bummer. Juan is a well-liked and hard-working player, but there are so many mouths to feed right now, especially as Jonathan Kuminga emerges

The veterans and coaches will help Juan keep his head up. He talks to Draymond and Andre, and his best friend on the team, Damion Lee. Juan’s story of perseverance to reach the NBA in the first place makes him well-versed in the ups-and-downs of this career. 

Playing time can roll like a wave depending on the injuries that pop up in a season and situational match-ups. One thing I know about Juan: He’ll stay ready. 

Kuminga’s poise has impressed me. He does not back down from anyone. I haven’t groaned at any rookie moments. He belongs out there.

Steve Kerr seems impressed with Kuminga’s development, considering Kuminga missed three weeks of early-season action with a strained patella tendon.

He played 19 minutes against the Nets, which included meaningful action in the first and this quarters. If the rookie is trusted to be on the court against one of the best teams in the East, on a national TV stage, against Kevin Durant ... he’s arrived. 

 

Kuminga should play regular rotation minutes. I like that he’s been on the floor alongside Andre. 

Here’s the Klay news for anyone who may have missed it: He’s been cleared for contact and he’s playing 5-on-5

Nov. 25 is the one-year anniversary of his Achilles tendon repair surgery.

While the team has not announced their plan for Klay’s first game back, my gut is telling me Klay will start.

If you want to do everything you can to make Klay comfortable and let Klay be Klay, put him back in the situation he knows. That’s playing alongside Steph and Draymond from the jump.

Give Klay the starting lineup roar. Let him remember exactly what it all feels like so he can thrive. 

James Wiseman’s situation feels different to me. With Klay, I’d start him right away. With Wiseman, I’m not certain. 

Last season, Wiseman looked out of his depth in some games as a starter. He talked about watching Looney, assessing the game, then coming in. I like that for him. 

There’s enough scoring and good passers in the second unit for Wiseman to get established. 

Talent-wise, Wiseman is a starter. For sure. But for his first games back, I wonder if he’ll get a three or four-game runway to ease into things off the bench. 

RELATED: Zaza reveals important Wiseman difference this season

I could be totally wrong however. The factors that contributed to last season’s slow starts and Wiseman’s awkwardness are reduced. This team is functioning better. Wiseman feels more confident. This is a long way to say “I don’t know” and I’ll ask once it’s clear Wiseman is only days away from returning. But you know my guess!

Ahead of tonight’s game with the Cavaliers, Steph needs 66 more threes to pass Ray Allen to become the NBA’s all-time threes-made leader.

Steph is averaging about five per game. So he’s roughly 13 games away from the record if his average holds. The calendar marks that game as Dec. 13 against the Pacers. 

The Warriors have a five-game road trip from Dec. 11-18th and that appears to be the most likely window for Steph to make history. 

Before I wrap up the mailbag, some awesome news to share: 

Warriors fans raised $22,595 for the Alameda County Community Food Bank. I’m sitting with that number. Wow. 

That’s a two-game total where we had fun doing multiples of Warriors stats to make our pledges. 

This spontaneous food drive introduced ACCFB to 75 people who made first-time donations. ACCFB said the donations ranged from $20 to $2,500. And it all added up to 45,190 meals for people facing food insecurity. 

Thank you so much for your generosity. 

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @KerithBurke, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors coverage all season.

 

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