Warriors

Why D'Angelo Russell's skill set excites Warriors coach Steve Kerr

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USATSI

Why D'Angelo Russell's skill set excites Warriors coach Steve Kerr

The Warriors' backcourt will look much different at the start of the 2019-20 NBA season.

Two-time MVP Stephen Curry won't start the year alongside fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson, as the sharpshooter recovers from tearing his ACL in the NBA Finals. D'Angelo Russell, who the Warriors acquired in the Kevin Durant sign-and-trade with the Brooklyn Nets, will be Golden State's other guard. 

The Warriors will change with Russell's presence, but Steve Kerr is intrigued by the 23-year-old brings to the table.

"[He's a dynamic] player in the pick and roll, excellent shooter and I like his in-between game," Kerr told Monte Poole on Wednesday's episode of The Warriors Insider Podcast. "He makes a lot of plays out of the pick-and-roll. Those float shots are tough to master, and he makes those pretty routinely. So, we can do a lot of things with D'Angelo on and off the ball."

As NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh observed earlier this month, Russell was the primary ballhandler on nearly as many pick-and-rolls (920) as the Warriors ran as a team (995) last season. The Warriors' subsequent moves this summer point in the direction of more pick-and-roll plays, especially the signing of big man Willie Cauley-Stein. Cauley-Stein was the roll man on 3.2 pick-and-roll possessions per game last season, according to NBA.com. 

"I'm anxious to get started with him and see how he's going to play with Steph," Kerr said. "We'll probably run more pick-and-roll than we have in the past, given our change in personnel. But, I'm really excited to have him on board and can't wait to coach him."

[RELATED: How Dubs can make up for lost assists in 2019-20 season]

Although Russell was Brooklyn's primary ball-handler last season, he made a career-high 39.4 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3-pointers last season. He is a career 37.4 percent shooter from beyond the arc in those situations, and it stands to reason he could raise that mark playing alongside Curry. With Thompson out, Curry figures to draw most of the focus from opposing defenses and that could create more openings for Russell. 

That's easier said than done, though, and Kerr will have to revamp the Warriors' offense after so much turnover this summer. It sounds like the three-time champion is ready to embrace the challenge. 

NCAA to rule potential Warriors draft target James Wiseman eligible

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AP

NCAA to rule potential Warriors draft target James Wiseman eligible

The NCAA is stupid, but you already knew that.

After ruling Memphis center James Wiseman -- the presumptive No. 1 overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft -- ineligible for the current collegiate season for accepting $11,500 in moving expenses, the governing body has reversed course ... sort of.

On Wednesday, the NCAA ruled Wiseman re-eligible before suspending him for 12 games, and mandated that he donate the same sum to a charity of his choice before being cleared to play.

This is where the NCAA's hypocrisy truly shines through. Wiseman was ruled ineligible for accepting money -- money he and his family didn't have -- to move to Memphis in high school, back when current Tigers coach Penny Hardaway coached Wiseman at East High School. Now, in order to get back on the court, the NCAA is making him dig up $11,500, even though the responsibilities and obligations required to fulfill his collegiate basketball scholarship make it all but impossible to hold down an additional job.

But we can't pay college athletes. No, that would be un-American.

Baloney.

[RELATED: Bowman has been Warriors' bright spot, looks like a keeper]

Hypocrisy aside, the NCAA coming to its senses is good news for Wiseman -- and for any team picking near the top of the upcoming draft.

That includes the Warriors, who have already scouted Wiseman up close and currently occupy the worst record in the NBA. Once he returns to action on Jan. 12, Wiseman will have an opportunity to play in as many as 16 games before any conference tournaments and March Madness. That should provide ample tape for NBA teams to evaluate someone who is widely regarded as the best big man available in the draft.

David West outlines how Warriors' Steph Curry deferred to Kevin Durant

David West outlines how Warriors' Steph Curry deferred to Kevin Durant

Throughout Kevin Durant's three-season tenure with the Warriors, some media and fans loudly wondered just whose team it was. 

For instance, Jay Williams, an ESPN analyst and Durant's friend, pondered on "Get Up" if "M-V-P" chants directed at Golden State star Steph Curry -- which Williams neglected to mention would be directed at Durant, too, when he played -- made Durant wonder if the Warriors could ever be his team. Never mind that Durant said -- from the beginning -- that his decision to join the Warriors was driven by his desire to improve as a basketball player, potential tension surrounding the Warriors' offensive pecking order was a constant storyline with Durant in the Bay Area. 

Yet David West, who played with Durant and Curry for two seasons, said Tuesday there wasn't much of a question in the Warriors' locker room.

"Before the issue could arise of whose team it was or who was going to get the ball to start the game, we saw right away in, like, the first couple pickup games: He deferred," West said of Curry on FS1's "The Herd" on Tuesday. "He was the bigger player and just said ... 'We're gonna start playing through KD in the fourth quarter. We're gonna close with KD.'"

Curry led the Warriors in field-goal attempts per game in two of the three regular seasons he played with Durant, with Durant leading the team in 2017-18 when Curry played just 51 games. Durant, however, led Golden State in shots per game in two of their three playoff runs, and won back-to-back NBA Finals MVPs.

Along with Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson, Curry was one of the four Warriors who pitched Durant on coming to Golden State during their Hamptons meeting three summers ago. He knew what he was getting into by recruiting a fellow MVP, and West said Curry embraced that fact from the start. 

"That was a part of his way of sort of leading the group," West said. "[He] was like, 'I'm gonna take a backseat. Let's get the ball to KD. I'll find a way to do what I need to do."

[RELATED: Bowman has been Warriors' bright spot, looks like a keeper]

Curry's efforts to make Durant feel comfortable ultimately continued after they were teammates when he still visited with Durant after learning he had joined the Brooklyn Nets while on a flight from China. 

Given how West described the start of Curry and Durant's on-court relationship, that should have come as no surprise. 

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