Warriors

Why Steve Kerr isn't entertaining idea of Klay Thompson playing this season

Why Steve Kerr isn't entertaining idea of Klay Thompson playing this season

The Warriors were supposed to provide an official update on Klay Thompson's status during the All-Star break.

But it appears an announcement won't come until later this week.

Is coach Steve Kerr still operating with the mindset that Klay will not return to game action this season?

"It's so different because with Steph there's a definite timetable," Kerr told reporters Tuesday night after practice. "It's easy to look and say, 'In a couple weeks, Steph is gonna be ready to play.'

"Klay is a long way from that, so I don't even entertain any thoughts of Klay playing this year."

Yours truly feels the same way.

Klay tore his left ACL on June 13 and underwent surgery July 2.

The Warriors' last game is April 15 -- which is just 10 months removed from when he sustained the injury. Considering the team's current place in the standings, does it make sense to bring him back?

We shall see.

It sounds like the final decision could be up to the three-time NBA champion himself.

[RELATED: Why Steph playing again this season still is so valuable]

“Klay might come back for a few games at the end. He might not,” owner Joe Lacob recently told Mark Medina of USA Today Sports. “That doesn’t matter so much. Maybe we’ll err on the cautious side. Maybe.

"That’s up to him.”

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NBA Draft 2020: Onyeka Okongwu's potential could intrigue Warriors

NBA Draft 2020: Onyeka Okongwu's potential could intrigue Warriors

As the Warriors prepare for the 2020 NBA draft, during which they will have a lottery pick for the first time since 2012, NBC Sports Bay Area will present a twice-weekly series spotlighting two players expected to be evaluated. This is the fifth of a 12-part series over a six-week span.

One sure thing about the NBA is that its closest observers fall in love every season. Usually, it’s a third-year player of relatively low profile who makes such an impact he sends scouts scurrying back to their dungeons to re-review old video to see what they missed.

Kind of like Draymond Green in 2014-15, his third season in the league.

In the 2018-19 season, that player was Toronto Raptors forward Paskal Siakam, in his third year. This year, it’s Miami Heat forward Bam Adebayo, also in his third year.

Three years from now, it might be Onyeka Okongwu, the 6-foot-9, 235-pound freshman forward/center from USC who announced March 25 that he was declaring for the 2020 draft.

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As the Warriors evaluate the top prospects available, Okongwu is on their radar. Studying video, he leaps off the screen. A teammate of all three Ball brothers -- Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo -- at powerful Chino Hills High, Okongwu has nice offensive skills and very good defensive skills. His greatest attribute, however, is energy. This guy seems to have two or three reservoirs of stamina.

Okongwu understands that coaches love high-effort players, particularly when that hard work is effective. Consider his response in a Q&A session with the Southern California News Group when asked what area of his game could make an immediate impact in the NBA:

“Straight energy and hustle,” he said. “I’m one of those players that will give unrelenting energy and effort every game. That’s what I’m always going to be able to give out.”

Okongwu, 19, certainly fills a need for the Warriors and fits the profile of what they like from their big men. He’s a lob threat, with terrific hands, nimble footwork and the ability to spin off either shoulder from either block.

He made believers out of more than a few opposing coaches, including former NBA player Terry Porter, now at the University of Portland.

“He’s what we call TC -- a tough cover,” Porter told reporters after Okongwu went for 20 points and 10 rebounds in USC’s 76-65 victory over the Pilots. “His size, his motor, his athleticism. He’s so quick to the ball. He just never quits.”

Okongwu inhales rebounds, treats the rim as his personal property and -- this is something coach Steve Kerr adores -- also can guard multiple positions.

Observing Okongwu, one sees an elite athlete offering at various times similarities to Adebayo (high motor), Montrezl Harrell (sheer relentlessness), Tristan Thompson (beastly rebounding), Ben Wallace (rim protection) and John Collins (inside scoring).

The most notable weakness in Okongwu’s game is his offense outside the paint. He has no three-ball and doesn’t space the floor. One look at the Warriors’ roster, however, leads to the belief they’ve already got that element covered with shooters like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins.

Okongwu is bound to run into the shopworn canard that he is “too small” to play center. The Warriors can look past that and see a wingspan that is 7-foot-1, a vertical leap approaches 40 inches and a physique from the muscle factory.

Besides, their best lineup in recent years featured a 6-foot-6 center who many scouts considered too small to be effective at power forward. Right, Draymond?

Okongwu is a consensus lottery pick, the only question being how high.

The Warriors, with the worst record in the NBA, could have the No. 1 overall pick and can’t drop lower than the fifth pick. They must discern whether Okongwu is worthy of being a top-five pick, even as most scouts are skeptical of that.

Should the Warriors land the No. 1 pick and are interested in Okongwu, another question they’d have to ponder is how far down can they trade and still secure him?

[RELATED: NBA mock draft 4.0: Predicting Warriors, Kings' lottery picks]

Here’s what they want no part of -- failing to select Okongwu in the draft, whenever it occurs, and three years later wishing they had.

Onyeka Okongwu profile

Position: Power forward/center
Class: Freshman
Birthdate: Dec. 11, 2000 (19)
Hometown: Los Angeles
2019-20 stats: 16.2 points (61.6 percent FG, 25.0 percent 3p, 72.0 percent FT), 8.6 rebounds, 2.7 blocks.
Height: 6-foot-9
Weight: 235
Wingspan:7-foot-1
What they’re saying: “He’s a quality individual, he works hard and has a world of potential. That’s the scary thing. He’s only 19. He’s special now, but his work ethic tells me he’s determined to keep getting better. And probably will.” – Eastern Conference scout.

How new NBA draft rules affect Warriors' ability to evaluate prospects

How new NBA draft rules affect Warriors' ability to evaluate prospects

The global coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the world, affecting how businesses function. For the NBA, the COVID-19 virus has the league's season in peril.

In the latest twist, the league is adjusting how team personnel can evaluate NBA draft prospects, and it could have a direct impact on what the Warriors do with one of the top overall picks.

The latest rule changes, reported by The Athletic and ESPN on Monday, will affect teams' preparation for the 2020 NBA Draft, which is scheduled to be held June 25 in Brooklyn, New York. Under the new structure, which adheres to social distancing guidelines, teams will be permitted to spend up to four hours in virtual meetings with a prospect during the pre-draft process. Of that time, teams can only spend two hours per week talking to each prospect.

In-person workouts or requesting that a player workout via live video have been prohibited by the league, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported.

While the rule change hurts most prospects, players like center James Wiseman and guard LaMelo Ball are greatly hindered by the development.

And the Warriors' ability to properly evaluate Wiseman and Ball is equally affected.

In just 12 games in his lone season in Australia's NBL, Ball averaged 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.8 assists before a foot injury cut his season short. Despite averaging double digits, he shot just 37 percent from the field against inferior competition. Ball hasn't played in a game since late November.

Meanwhile, Wiseman averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds in just three college appearances before withdrawing from Memphis amid recruiting violations. His last game was on Nov. 12.

There just isn't a lot of recent video of either player for teams to evaluate.

Each player will be subjected to digital video chats featuring general managers, coaches and front office staff. The setup isn't ideal for either side.

Players -- especially those with something to prove like Wiseman -- where hoping to make an impression on teams who have limited film. In Ball's case, he wanted a chance to show he has improved his weaknesses

For teams, it strips away the ability to evaluate a player in person, which helps get a better grasp of the human element, similar to the final step of a job interview.

[RELATED: Warriors not high on Wiseman, Ball]

The first test case of this practice is the NFL, who will hold the first virtual draft in its history later this month. Only the NFL has been able to hold its combine last month, giving teams a chance to interview players in person, providing an advantage NBA team personnel do not have. 

The Warriors personnel, along with the rest of the league, will have their work cut out for them as the coronavirus timeline continues to define a new normal for sports.