Warriors

Why Steph Curry's slump isn't big deal; what makes Kevin Durant laugh

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Tara Funk / NBC Sports Bay Area

Why Steph Curry's slump isn't big deal; what makes Kevin Durant laugh

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. Send her a question on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #askkerith

Tip-Off

The Warriors head to OKC as the No. 1 team in the West. They’ve held that position for most of the season. They’ve had some ugly losses, but their 46-21 record still is the best in the conference.

It does seem like this season has had more “stuff” ... tension or turmoil, or whatever you want to call it. But through it all, the Warriors are on track to continue their historic run.

The game notes have this bullet point: Golden State has a 328-83 (.798) record in the regular season and playoffs over the last four seasons, the best four-year winning percentage in NBA history. Additionally, the Warriors own the best winning percentage (.759) in the postseason in any four-year span in NBA history.

It’s normal to be harder on the people who have reached the top. And when those people say they want more, they strive to be better, and the storylines around them reflect that. The Warriors are held to a high standard because that’s what they demand of themselves.

That said? It’s cool to sit back for a sec and say whoa. This team, this year, is really good.

Game On!

Via IG @miraclepieco Kerith: During the first part of the season, much was made of Klay Thompson’s “slump.” Given recent performances, is it time to start talking about Steph Curry’s slump?

I remember all those Klay questions and the takeaways: Klay is confident. He’ll shoot his way out of it. And he did! We also talked about how Klay’s performances can be indicative of how well the offense is flowing overall. Same with Steph.

Since the All-Star break, Steph is shooting 41 percent on field-goal attempts, 37 percent on 3-pointers and 90 percent on free-throw tries.

It’s fair to notice Steph’s percentages are down and wonder what’s up. Steve Kerr believes the dip is part of a weird patch for the team at large, going 5-5 since the All-Star break.

This week at practice, Kerr explained: “When the group is affected, everyone is affected. When the group is disconnected a little bit, it takes away our team’s energy. When our team’s energy is lagging, I think that affects Steph, for sure. ... But he’s Steph Curry. He’s going to have some huge games no matter what happens. He’s in a little bit of a rut right now, but it happens to everybody.”

By the way, at this EXACT time in the season two years ago, the same “Is Steph in a slump?” questions popped up. Here’s Monte Poole’s report from March 14, 2017. There are late-season patterns before the playoffs happen. In this story, Steph said he doesn’t like the word “slump” because there’s a connotation of a lack of confidence. He will never lack confidence.

Via IG: @dabidhwonphoto What’s the status of Damian Jones, and with Bogut re-entering the lineup for a year long contract, what do you believe the Warriors will do to continue developing him or find plans otherwise if not the right fit?

Let’s tackle the Bogut part of this question first. His contract with the Warriors is good for the remainder of this NBA season. At its conclusion, he will return to his team in Australia, the Sydney Kings. Bogut’s reunion with the Warriors is a short-term thing for this season’s playoff push.

Bogut is expected to join the Warriors during the next homestand.

Damian Jones is the only center the Warriors have on the roster under contract for next season. Steve Kerr said it is “doubtful” Jones will play in the postseason.

DJ is rehabbing well from his torn pectoral muscle, and he might be available to play at the end of May, but consider that situation. He’s been rehabbing since December ... ramping up to game speed after that much time away is difficult … and the playoffs aren’t ordinary games.

It’s a not a good idea to throw DJ into high-pressure games where there’s no room to have some wobbly moments after so much time away. It’s not worth the potential confidence hit when the Warriors have DeMarcus Cousins, Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell and Bogut to hold down the center position.

DJ is a young, promising center the Warriors have spent much time developing. They believe in him. He fits.

@TheGeeMoneyShow #askKerith with Boogie’s increased minutes how has his conditioning come along?

He’s looking good. In his 11 games before the All-Star break, he was getting about 23 minutes per game. Now he’s getting closer to 30.

Some of the markers of good conditioning are whether a player Boogie’s size is running the floor well and staying engaged on defense. He’s doing both.

The game against the Rockets was Boogie’s 20th of the season. He’s moving the way he knows he can. The perspective for Boogie was the first games back were like his training camp, then he settled in, and now he’s finding a higher gear.

@RobertsonBrad Is Klay clearly underrated? He would be #1 on many teams but he is #3 only on this roster. #askKerith

It’s easy to see Klay’s worth when he missed the Celtics game and the Warriors lost by 33, then he came back and dropped 39 points against the Nuggets in a big win. This is an oversimplification, of course -- wins and losses are team efforts -- but Klay frequently shows his value.

On a team where Steph and KD have the most intrigue, Klay plugs away and performs. His defense is strong. His energy is good.

Speaking of his fellow Splash Brother, Steph and Klay now are the only duo in NBA history to have seven consecutive seasons of 200-plus 3-pointers together. They perfectly complement each other, on the court and personality-wise.

Klay said he wants to be a Warrior for life, but other teams will for sure come sniffing around during his free agency. He’s talented and respected.

@Tuscangirlygirl #askKerith Kevin Durant is such a serious guy. What makes him laugh? A deep belly laugh?

What a great question! I asked KD, and he said, “I watch Martin every night.” That’s the '90s sitcom with Martin Lawrence and Tisha Campbell.

KD continued, “I’m usually (rolling) on the floor when I watch.”

@rj1975 As a seasoned professional, are there certain colors/looks you avoid for the camera? Do you work with a clothing designer? #AskKerith

Busy patterns, like small stripes and houndstooth prints make the camera freak out. I try to keep it simple with solid colors. I like to wear red, blue, pink and black the most. Yellow and tan don’t look great on me because I’m pale. I look washed out.

After awhile, I get bored of solids and toss in something with striking print. This season, I’ve worn more jackets because it’s cold in arenas. I want to be comfortable so I can focus on the job. My favorite thing in my closet is a faux fur floral bomber jacket. It’s a striking print that I wouldn’t usually wear for work, but sometimes it’s fun to break the rules.

I don’t work with a designer. I have enough things in my closet over my years in broadcasting to have the staples. I add to the staples with some pieces from Rent the Runway and frequent shopping.

In my personal life, I tend to wear the same things. Normal right? My favorite pair of jeans. My favorite boots. But with a job in the public eye, I try not to repeat the same work outfit for at least three months. That’s my preference to look fresh.

High Five

This week’s high five goes to Logan Murdock, for jumping into his role with NBC Sports Bay Area mid-season and tackling new things, like regular TV hits. He’s crushing it!

After I posted a pic of Monte, Logan and I doing a hit in the pregame show, viewer @townbiz77 wanted to know if we formed “Run MLK.” Monte ... Logan ... Kerith. I love it!

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

Alfonzo McKinnie wants to stay but is prepared if Warriors tenure ends

Alfonzo McKinnie wants to stay but is prepared if Warriors tenure ends

SAN FRANCISCO -- Fairy tales indeed can come true, as one did last autumn for Alfonzo McKinnie. After four years hopscotching the world in pursuit of an NBA career, he landed on the roster of the defending champion Warriors.

Life was great. His work and perseverance had paid off. Two years after scrapping by in makeshift gyms in Luxembourg and Mexico, he was teammates with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. McKinnie bought a house for his mother and still had money in his pocket.

One year later, the 6-foot-8 forward is discovering that fairy tales don’t always stay true.

There is a reasonable chance the status McKinnie earned one year ago will go to someone else.

The Warriors acknowledge a need for size, and Marquese Chriss, the 6-10 forward/center who signed a non-guaranteed contract two weeks ago, has impressed players and coaches with his work ethic, adaptability and cognition.

“Marquese is doing great,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Sunday. “He’s probably been the surprise of camp, given that he came in late on a non-guaranteed, one-year contract.”

The Warriors cannot upgrade Chriss’ contract and add him to the roster unless someone else is waived or traded. The simplest sacrifice is McKinnie, whose contract is not fully guaranteed until January. None of the free-agent acquisitions are eligible for trade, and the Warriors won’t be moving second-year guard Jacob Evans III or any of their three rookies.

McKinnie is a 27-year-old reserve, making him a trade candidate.

“I hear it, but I try not to pay attention to it,” McKinnie told NBC Sports Bay Area. “All I can do is just come out, put my work in and perform. Whatever happens from there, that’s out of my control. I can only control what I do and how hard I go. Everything outside of that, it’s front-office business. I can’t control what goes on up there.”

With two centers on the sideline -- Willie Cauley-Stein (mid-foot sprain) and Kevon Looney (hamstring) --  Warriors general manager Bob Myers is seeking a way to add Chriss, a 2016 lottery pick (No. 8 overall) by the Kings.

The need for a big man and the way Chriss is playing -- he’ll make his second consecutive start Monday night against the Lakers in Los Angeles -– imperils McKinnie’s hold on his roster spot.

“We did have a lot of injuries to the bigs, so we definitely need some bigs,” McKinnie conceded. “Outside of the ones that are hurt, we’re a little smaller than a lot of teams.

“But I’m coming in here every day and competing. Whether you’re guaranteed or non-guaranteed, unless you’re totally solidified, you’ve always got to compete, whether it’s for a job or a spot or more minutes. Competition is always first nature.”

In 37 preseason minutes, McKinnie has been less than dazzling, scoring nine points on 4-of-12 shooting from the field, including 1 of 5 from beyond the arc. He has grabbed 13 rebounds, as well as contributed three assists and two blocks.

“I know where I’ve been,” he said. “With this basketball thing, I’ve been at the bottom of the totem pole. Being here, with this organization, experiencing what I experienced last year, having a role on a championship-contending team, this is the highest I’ve been. I’m really self-motivated, because I know where I’ve been, and I know what it’s like to be at the bottom.

“I want to stay here. And continue to be here for years to come.”

Kerr expressed relief that he is coaching instead of facing the decisions looming before Myers.

“These guys are all working hard,” Kerr said. “And you know it’s their dream to play in this league. You wish you could keep everybody. But the nature of camp is generally that you’ve got to release four or five people, and it’s no fun at all.”

If the Warriors decide to keep McKinnie, it will be out of familiarity with the system and culture, as well as his rebounding ability.

If they decide to move him and cut him, it will be out of a greater need elsewhere on the roster.

Either way, McKinnie has a clear-eyed view.

“I definitely feel like I’m a mentally strong person,” he said. “I’ve been through a lot, on and off the court. When it comes to basketball, it’s for a job. People go through much tougher times. I’ve seen people go through [stuff] way harder than getting cut from a basketball team.”

[RELATED: Warriors reportedly push Myers to keep Chriss]

That’s the voice of McKinnie past, when there were nights when he barely knew the name of the city where he would lay his head. When he barely knew his teammates, some of whom had full-time day jobs.

No matter how this turns out, McKinnie is prepared. He’ll continue to live the fairy tale. Or he’ll remember the lessons of survival when the fairy tale went no further than his imagination.

Eric Paschall fitting in with Warriors, making good early impression

Eric Paschall fitting in with Warriors, making good early impression

SAN FRANCISCO -- Four months ago, the Warriors had a pretty good idea they wanted to select Eric Paschall with one of their two second-round draft picks.

Following a four-year college career, Paschall -- though listed at 6-foot-7 -- impressed with his athleticism, defensive prowess and basketball IQ. Only one question remained: Would he fall to the 41st overall pick?

"We were kind of holding our breath," Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitted Sunday. "Hoping for him to fall, and it happened. We're lucky to have him."

As the Warriors get through training camp, Paschall is beginning to make good on Golden State's trust. Through two preseason games, he's averaging 11 points and three rebounds in 22 minutes. More importantly, with big men Kevon Looney and Willie Cauley Stein injured, Paschall has been tasked to guard multiple positions on defense, often the opponent's best player, and impressed the staff along the way.

"Really excited about Eric," Kerr said. "The strength, the explosiveness. He may be undersized from a height standpoint, but he's got long arms, so he makes up for some of that. To me, he fits right in, maybe even stands out on an NBA floor athletically from a strength and explosion standpoint."

Six months ago, Paschall -- who signed a three-year, fully guaranteed $4.2 million deal, in July -- was competing for a third straight Final Four appearance with Villanova, playing against zone defenses and the structure of college basketball. When he entered his first preseason game last Saturday, Kerr tasked him to guard All-NBA big man Anthony Davis.

In the second quarter of last week's Warriors loss to the Lakers, LeBron James took a pass at half court, dribbled three times and barreled into Paschall's chest for an easy layup, emphasizing the rookie's steep learning curve. 

"It's kind of weird because you see these guys, AD is on the cover of [NBA 2K] and my first game I have to guard him," Paschall said. "It's kind of crazy, but I'm glad Coach trusts me enough to go out and guard those guys."

An adjustment has manifested off the court as well for Paschall. Long a resident of the East Coast, he wasn't much of a driver and still doesn't have a license, despite being 22 years old. Following practice Sunday afternoon, Paschall stood outside Chase Center with a bag packed for a week-long trip, waiting for fellow rookie Jordan Poole to take him to San Francisco International Airport for the team's trip to Los Angeles. 

While Paschall has impressed thus far, his NBA dreams weren't always a sure thing. Despite averaging 26.0 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game as a junior at Dobbs Ferry High School (NY), Paschall only garnered interests from mid-major schools like Virginia Commonwealth, George Mason and Providence before enrolling at nearby Fordham. After transferring to Villanova following a coaching change, Paschall won a national title in 2018, but he was just a second-round pick in June's NBA draft.

"My whole life, I've been underrated," Paschall told NBC Sports Bay Area. "To be able to be here is a blessing in itself."

Entering the season, Paschall comes to an organization in transition. Three months removed from Kevin Durant's departure, coupled with the Klay Thompson's knee injury, the Warriors are left to navigate the start of the season with eight new additions. Nonetheless, the team has established stars like Draymond Green and Stephen Curry, who have defined roles.

As his tenure progresses, Paschall hopes to be added to the Golden State's lineup of stars.

[RELATED: McKinnie prepared for end with Warriors]

"Eventually, I feel like I can come into my own at this level," Paschall said. "But now, especially as a rookie, you just have to do what they say and do what you got to do to stay on the court, but I feel like eventually in this league, I'll be able to play my game, and I hope it's with the Warriors." 

"I feel like I ended up being in a great spot," Paschall added. "They gave me a great contract, and I feel like in these next few years, I feel like I can contribute, to try to do what I can to just bring whatever they want me to bring to the table."