What Warriors should do at center; DeMarcus Cousins' stat-sheet effect

Illustration by Tara Funk

What Warriors should do at center; DeMarcus Cousins' stat-sheet effect

Editor’s note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors reporter, will take you inside the two-time defending NBA champions as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag, presented by Toyota. Send her a question on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #askkerith


One of the things I strive to do with the mailbag is answer your big-picture questions. It's a weekly mailbag, so questions like “Who is starting tonight?” don’t fit, you know? But the Warriors fan base is smart, and you guys see some concerning things.

Game On!

@return.ofthe.agh #AskKerith Understanding the league is now catching on to the Warriors style of play. Because of that, does it take away from their ability to play their pace & space? Does this show the importance of not having a true 5 on the floor to set screens and be a presence in the paint? Because of these possibilities, is that what’s making more isolation plays occur?

The talent on this roster means even if opponents know exactly what the Warriors are going to do, they still have to stop it. And that’s not easy. Despite some bumps this season, the Warriors still can play with the pace and space they prefer. Pace is connected to solid defense, enabling the Warriors to get into transition and improvise. It helps when Steph, KD, and Klay (and Draymond!) are shooting well to space the floor. They can be threats from anywhere.

You’re right that the Dubs could use some help with an inside presence. Damian Jones’ injury was unfortunate. And DeMarcus Cousins' return will not be rushed despite the urgency at center. For now, they must go with Looney, Draymond and Jordan, all undersized guys compared to true fives. I think they miss lobs to JaVale or screens from Zaza.

Iso plays can happen when the ball isn’t moving well, and the Warriors had a lull there during some December games. Iso ball isn’t always bad when you have Steph and KD on your team. It’s just not the type of offense Steve Kerr prefers.

Questions about the 5 were popular this week ...

@mtknguyen3927 #askKerith what are the chances of the Dubs landing another C?

@babbsports i think they need to add another big in buyout market, your thoughts on possible candidates? Reports today say Cousins had a full practice (Wednesday), do you think he’ll see playing time before Feb.? He mentioned maybe being a Dub ‘19/20, does it mean he won’t be ready this year?

Bob Myers noted the “awareness and reality” that the Warriors have a need at center, even with Boogie on the roster. Myers said, “We overdid it last year. Now we could use one more.” Steve Kerr agrees.

Myers stated the Warriors will be looking for a trade or a buyout to land a center. They have a roster spot open. At this point, it would be more surprising to me if something does not happen.

As far as candidates, here’s what’s up with Robin Lopez possibly coming to Golden State. Can the Dubs wait until February when the need is great now? We’ll see.

As far as whether Boogie will play before February, it’s possible. I don’t want to get over-excited, but when he’s doing full practices and scrimmaging and talking louder, it’s clear he’s getting closer. Other folks believe he’ll be back closer to the All-Star break. I understand that. He needs to get his conditioning up.

Finally, the stories about Boogie potentially returning to the Warriors next season don’t mean he won’t play this season. The Warriors expect him to play. But if they have a need at center and Boogie feels like he didn’t get to showcase his skills enough this season because of his injury, why not keep the door open to staying in a positive culture for another season?

@johnjohnalim What stat do you think goes up most once Boogie comes back?!

Maybe you were thinking field-goal percentage with Boogie getting some easy buckets, or rebounds, and I’ll agree, but I also want to point out that fouls will go up.

Consider the feeling-out process that players and refs go through at the start of every season. Boogie didn’t get that. Now he has to rejoin a league that’s had months to figure out calls, and do it at full speed. That’s difficult after about 12 months away from the game. The one-year anniversary of his Achilles tendon tear is Jan. 26, by the way.

Folding him into the offense will take some time as well. Everyone wants to see Boogie comfortable, and teammates will want to feed him to get his confidence up. Plus he’s Boogie darn Cousins. The man can put on a show. When he wants to do things at pre-injury speed and his body is trying to catch up, frustration can show up as fouls.

He deserves time and patience to feel like his best self.

@wallyolivera the Warriors seemed encouraged by the young players (Looney, Bell, Jones) enough to let the vets walk (West, McGee, Pachulia), do you think this might hurt or help in the long run? I know Cousins healthy solves a lot of problems, but the Warriors can’t solely depend on him.

The Warriors have an issue with the youth movement they predicted for this season.

DJ’s hurt, so his development pauses. Jordan Bell is a better pro, but he’s still trying to find consistency on the court. Patrick McCaw is gone. Looney has been good, but he’s playing against opponents who are bigger than him. That can take a toll. The rookie, Jacob Evans, has not made an immediate impact.

If we stretch youth movement to include Quinn Cook at 25 years old and Alfonzo McKinnie at 26, you have some role players who are solid but not stars. Youth is a point of concern, for sure.

The need for fresh blood is colliding with an aging core roster. That core is excellent, and they expect to be paid as their contracts come up. The Warriors are heading toward an important time when it comes to shaping the future.

@ryanostorero Are you glad the McCaw “drama” is over?! I know I am. Who or what has been your biggest surprise this season? McKinnie making rotation, Jonas making it rain 3s (my fav addition) or Klay’s struggles?

It’s nice to see a conclusion to the McCaw situation. Good luck to him. I’ll never fault someone for taking a risk on themselves.

The biggest surprise this season, to me, is McKinnie because of his route to the Warriors. His “never give up” story is incredible. If you need a refresher, read here. Three-and-D plus rebounds adds up to a sweet contribution.

@thatonejo3 What are your favorite sports movies?

I like watching "Happy Gilmore" when I’m sick. It cheers me up. I’ll watch "The Sandlot" any time it’s on TV. Same with "A League of Their Own."

High Five

When the Warriors were in Portland before the New Year, Steph Curry got a moment with Sabrina Ionescu, a junior guard who plays for Oregon. Local fans might remember she went to Miramonte High School in Orinda.

Sabrina is the NCAA's all-time leader in triple-doubles, in the men’s or women’s game. She set the record last month. She also holds the Ducks’ single-game assist record with 17.

Props to Steph for supporting young greats.

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

Warriors list three players as probable for season opener vs Clippers


Warriors list three players as probable for season opener vs Clippers

With Opening Night just two days away, the Warriors finally are starting to get healthy.

After practice Tuesday, the team announced that Kevon Looney (hamstring), Alec Burks (ankle) and Marquese Chriss (left toe infection) are probable against the Clippers.

"Last couple days, getting a lot of work in. Been able to play some 5-on-5, so feeling good," Looney told reporters. "I tweaked my hamstring -- second time doing it in a couple weeks -- so just wanted to play it safe, and make sure I was 100 percent before I got back out there and play.

"Feel great now, feel comfortable on the court -- trying to get my wind under me."

It's unclear at this point if the 23-year-old -- who missed all five preseason games -- or Chriss will start at center.

Looney revealed that the first hamstring tweak occured during a workout in the summer.

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"I was ready for training camp, I was feeling good the first couple days," he explained. "I just aggravated it so we wanted to be safe."

Burks, meanwhile, missed the entire preseason slate of games after rolling his ankle in practice the day before the opener.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram

Warriors predictions: How new trio of stars could finish statistically

Warriors predictions: How new trio of stars could finish statistically

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

The Warriors are on the cusp of a new era of basketball at Chase Center. Led by familiar faces in Steve Kerr, Steph Curry, Draymond Green (and from the sideline Klay Thompson) the Warriors are about to embark on a season that will feature a youthful roster with a new look.

With a revamped cast of characters will come different team strategy and chemistry that should lead to bigger responsibilities for key Warriors.

Here are some statistical predictions for these players:

Steph Curry

Over 32 points per game
Over 14 three-point attempts per game

It has been well-chronicled how much the Warriors will rely on Steph to lead them this season, and with that will come an increase in usage on the court. Curry's season-high scoring average was 30.1 points per game in his unanimous MVP season of 2015-16.

That season, he attempted a little over 20 field goals a game and 11 three-pointers a game. I expect both of those numbers to rise, especially his attempts from long distance.

Last season Curry took a career-high 11.7 shots per game from deep, but that included him sharing the ball with Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. With an increase in volume, opposing defense's attention and more energy exertion could come with a less glossy shooting efficiency, especially from within the arc.

But if the Warriors have any chance at "surprising" folks this season, Steph is going to have to lead the charge and insert himself back into the MVP conversation. These numbers should do that.

Draymond Green

Over 33 percent three-point percentage

Since the 2015-16 campaign in which Green shot a career-high three-point percentage of nearly 39 percent, his ability from long-range has faltered.

ver the past three seasons, Draymond has not surpassed 31 percent from deep, which has allowed defenses to sag off of him and dare him to shoot. This season he will have the green light to shoot more, which should help his confidence to fire away even when his shot is not falling earlier in the game.

It is highly unlikely that Green ever repeats his 39 percent mark, but shooting over 33 percent would be enough to keep a defense more honest, and allow more spacing for the offense. 

D'Angelo Russell

Over 23 points per game
Over 38 percent three-point percentage

Like Curry, the Warriors will be relying on Russell to put up points and lead their offense.

The staggering between Curry and Russell's minutes will help him get the rhythm and volume he needs to reach a new career-high in points per game, surpassing the 21.1 he scored last season with the Nets.

On the flip side, when Curry and Russell share the floor, D'Angelo will have more open shots than he has ever experienced before in his young NBA career, which in turn should be able to raise his three-point percentage over his career-high from last season, 36.9 percent.

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The ingredients are in place for the 23-year-old to shine with his new team.