Why Steve Kerr says Warriors will 'desperately' need D'Angelo Russell

Why Steve Kerr says Warriors will 'desperately' need D'Angelo Russell

Not many NBA teams have the difficulty of having to replace over 47 points a game from its lineup, but that is the conundrum the Warriors face after losing Kevin Durant to free agency and Klay Thompson for much of next season with a torn ACL.

D'Angelo Russell will be a huge part of that in 2019, as the combo guard averaged over 21 points a game for the Brooklyn Nets last season and will be starting alongside Steph Curry at Chase Center. 

Warriors coach Steve Kerr is down in Las Vegas assisting with Team USA's training camp as it prepares for the FIBA World Cup in September, and he offered some interesting thoughts on the team's biggest offseason acquisition.

"I'm excited to coach him, he's a great young talent," Kerr told reporters in Vegas. "I think he's going to fit right in with our group and we're gonna need him desperately, without Klay especially."

Russell was a revelation for Brooklyn in 2018-19, posting career-highs in scoring, assists, and 3-point percentage. Russell was named an All-Star and helped lead the Nets to the playoffs for the first time since the 2014-15 season.

[RELATED: Warriors profile: Draymond Green looks to prove he's worth $100 million]

"We need D'Angelo's scoring, and it's up to us as a staff to figure out how best to use him and shape the team, shape the offense and we'll figure it out," Kerr said

Russell will have a significant upgrade in terms of a starting backcourt mate. No offense to Nets guards Treveon Graham or Caris LaVert, but having a two-time MVP running alongside you bodes quite well for an up-and-coming guard with heaps of potential.

Steve Kerr praises Warriors' fight vs. Nuggets as tough season draws on

Steve Kerr praises Warriors' fight vs. Nuggets as tough season draws on

SAN FRANCISCO -- Steve Kerr started his postgame press conference with a unique statement Thursday evening.

Following a 134-131 overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets, in which his team squandered a 19-point second-half lead, resulting in the Warriors' 10th straight loss. Amid the worst season under his watch, Kerr expressed optimism in a situation reserved for chaos.

"I thought our guys were great tonight," Kerr said. "They played really well together."

The Warriors were a cohesive unit during the first 24 minutes, holding the Nuggets to just 30 percent from the field while forcing 10 turnovers. By the end of the first half, Denver had shot just 15 of 49 from the field, with the Warriors showing signs of dominance along the way.

Nine minutes into the second quarter, Warriors forward Draymond Green picked up Nuggets guard Malik Beasley at half court, finishing the play blocking the guard at the rim to force a turnover. A minute later, Green blocked Monte Morris at the rim, momentarily preserving a 17-point lead.

While the start was a welcome sight, Kerr's words were earned by his team's heart down the stretch. When Denver used an 18-6 run to take a 111-108 lead in the fourth, the Warriors answered by scoring the next five points, including a 3-pointer from Eric Paschall to put the Warriors up two points with 10 seconds to go. When the Nuggets went up by seven in overtime, the Warriors responded with an 8-4 run in the final minute to earn their coach's praise.

"Fought back when Denver came at us in the second half with multiple runs," Kerr said. "We came back. Just couldn't quite get over the hump. Denver is a hell of a team and they deserve a lot of credit."

Golden State's latest loss comes at a time of peril for the Warriors.

With the loss, the Warriors earned their longest losing streak since 2002 - a season in which they finished 21-61. By the end of the evening, they had the NBA's worst record with 40 games to go. Amid the losses, the unit has found small improvements.

Damion Lee -- who signed a multi-year deal on Wednesday -- finished 21 points and six assists in 37 minutes. Over his last five games, he's averaging 13.6 points and five rebounds in 32 minutes.

As Lee continues to flourish, rookies Paschall and Jordan Poole seem to be finding roles of their own. After starting the season shooting just 26 percent from the field, Poole has made 41 percent of his 3-pointers over his last two games. Aside from his clutch shot Thursday, Paschall finished with 16 points, including a reverse baseline dunk in the fourth quarter to put the Warriors up.

"Both rookies have looked better of late,"  Kerr said. "It's good to see. It's a tough thing going through their rookie season. But I think they've both weathered some punches in their respective seasons and they're coming along nicely."

[RELATED: Chriss hopes to play with Dubs long term after reunion]

While Golden State's latest outing prompted praise from its coach, Kerr's biggest measure of success is winning. But for the moment, he'll applaud his team's latest step towards that goal.

"Proud of our guys' effort," Kerr said. "They continue to battle. I feel bad for them because they played well enough to win."

Will Steph, Klay be on minutes restriction upon return to Warriors?

NBC Sports Bay Area

Will Steph, Klay be on minutes restriction upon return to Warriors?

Editor’s note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors reporter, will take you inside the Dubs as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #askKerith.


The Warriors are still looking for their 10th win of the season, as their losing streak has grown to 10 consecutive games. The rest of the month is tough. If the playoffs began today, the next six opponents the Dubs play to wrap up January -- Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics -- would be in the postseason. 

The players and coaches are frustrated, and so are fans. I like hearing from you in the mailbag. The most popular questions this week were about when Steph Curry and Klay Thompson might return. 

Game On!

Via instagram, @thebryannolen, @_habizz.walden_pnw, and @renegadegabe all wondered about Steph and Klay and whether they’d have minutes restrictions when they come back. 

Last week’s mailbag contained the update that Steph will be re-evaluated on Feb. 1 and Klay will be re-evaluated during the All-Star break. 

It was encouraging to see Steph and Klay travel with the team during the last road trip, and video from practice shows Steph shooting with his teammates. He was moving side-to-side with the ball in his hands, putting up 3-pointers with ease.

Keep in mind Steph’s re-evaluation date is still two weeks away. He might need more time to recover. When, or if, Steph comes back (and I think it will be when ... late February/early March is my feeling), he’ll probably be eased in slowly, per usual after long-term injuries. A minutes restriction will keep things manageable as he gets his wind back, while he builds chemistry on the floor with his new teammates. 

Klay spoke to reporters on Tuesday. It was the first time we’ve heard from him since Media Day, months ago. 

“I don’t know what’s going to come this season. I would love to get out there,” Klay said.

I think he’s holding out hope he could possibly play late in the season, while understanding it might not happen -- and that could be for the best.

“I’m trying to make sure this type of injury never happens to me again. So, I’ll be very patient because I want to play at a high level until I’m in my late-30s,” Klay added.

The medical staff needs to clear Klay for contact first, and that’s not happening for several weeks -- more likely months.

[RELATED: Watch Klay shoot at Chase Center

@MrHeavyMetaI What are chances Steph, Klay, D Lo and Green play a game together this season?? #askKerith

Because it’s uncertain Klay will play at all this season, I’ll entertain this question by saying a 2 percent chance. There’s wiggle room, but I feel doubtful. Even if all four of them are available toward the end of the season, one of them a night could be load-managed.

@misha1031 Watching the game (on Tuesday), I worried that we are not grasping how weak this team is on the floor (I’m not underestimating the difficulty of what this team is trying to do) In your opinion, how many seasons will it take to find a real core? One seems optimistic.

The Warriors have a core -- it’s Steph, Klay, Draymond Green, and Kevon Looney. Three out of those four have been dealing with long-term injuries. And Draymond is physically and mentally tired. 

There’s a chance D’Angelo Russell will grow into part of the core, but his first year with the team wasn’t what he expected. He deserves space to acclimate to handling a great deal of the scouring output. He’s been slowed by thumb, ankle, and shoulder injuries this season. 

The core is there for next season. Steph and Klay were forced to rest via rehab. Draymond’s obvious frustration this season should ease when he’s alongside the Splash Brothers again. Kevon’s situation of managing his neuropathy is concerning, but until reporters get word that Kevon needs something more than day-to-day management, I choose to be optimistic. 

Barring another season of injuries, the Warriors have their core next year. They also have a collection of young core candidates who have been through the fire this season. Lead by perhaps the best coaching staff in the NBA and an organization with a healthy culture in place, next season should be much better.

@DavidGrisar What is Steve Kerr’s contract status? Did he sign a new deal?

Kerr signed a contract extension in the summer of 2018, and Warriors Insider Monte Poole learned Kerr is expected to coach at least the first two seasons at Chase Center. You can find more details here. 

@TheMattBoyle More likely Steph plays in the Olympics given this will be a less taxing regular season?

For sure. Going from the Finals to the Olympics, for example, would not give Steph a chance to rest and recover. Concerns about recovery kept him out of the 2016 games in Rio. But a deep Warriors playoff run is not the situation this season. Being an Olympian is one honor Steph doesn’t have yet in his career. This summer in Tokyo should change that.

@AnneHarr13 Does the team fly out of SFO now, rather than out of OAK?

Yes. The team practices and plays games in San Francisco, so they fly out of SFO too. 

Via instagram, @mr.blai asks, Where do those boxes of food the players bring to the plane come from? Are they just takeouts from their favorite restaurants? 

There is food everywhere, provided by the team. Those takeout boxes you see contain healthy, catered meals. There’s salad, lean meats, noodles, quinoa, cold cuts, cheeses, smoothies, juices, you name it.

Players will never go hungry. There’s food before take off, on the plane, at practice, and in the locker room pregame and postgame. One of the most popular snacks on hand is the old comfort food, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 

High Five

This week’s high five goes to Klay Thompson, who will see his Washington State University number lifted into to the rafters in a jersey retirement ceremony Saturday in Pullman, WA. 

He led the Pac-12 in scoring his junior year before declaring for the draft, and he left the school with the single-season scoring record of 733 points. 

I’ll be in Pullman to cover the ceremony. Stay tuned for interviews, video, and pictures!

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