- Editor’s note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors reporter, takes you inside the team as only she can throughout the season with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #AskKerith
The Warriors have four consecutive losses, and they’re 22-24 heading into Monday's game against the Chicago Bulls.
In my second Ask Kerith Mailbag of the season, a reader wanted my prediction for the season. I said they’ll probably be a .500 team, which should be good enough to make the playoffs.
Once Steph Curry returns from his tailbone injury and James Wiseman, Jordan Poole, and Nico Mannion have more time on the floor together, I’m going to be an optimist and hope that time smooths out rough edges over the next two weeks.
The clock is ticking on this season, and too much tumbling can seriously jeopardize the Warriors’ playoffs hopes.
Let’s get to your questions, all of which come from Instagram this week.
@xo_jt_xo "Are they pushing for playoffs or just going to play for picks to finish off the season?"
Is this a kind way of asking if the Warriors are going to tank? I’m seeing tank GIFs in the negative spaces of Twitter. The Warriors are not tanking. No player or organization wants to play poorly deliberately, because it feels terrible. There’s too much pride involved. Tanking runs contrary to everything that motivates an athlete: Competing to be the best, and improving everyday with measured progress.
The Warriors also have the Minnesota Timberwolves' protected top-three pick for 2021, after drafting Wiseman last season. The picks and youth movement feel settled.
Playoffs are the goal this season, and they should be. The Warriors have the talent to be a play-in team, at least.
Putting together a solid run heading into the postseason and getting the young players playoff experience is valuable for next season. It’s a tricky balance this season but winning AND development can happen simultaneously!
@abargade "Do you think that Wiggins will be reliable if Steph and Klay have a bad game?"
I hope so. Playing alongside shooters like Steph and Klay should change the defensive pressure on everyone else, and Wiggins must come through consistently with scoring and defense. Threes and blocks from Wigs will be important.
Wiggins can take over games if and when he needs to. But I think he likes that he doesn’t have to be “the guy” for Golden State. That’s Steph.
Assuming the starting lineup next season is Steph-Klay-Wiggins-Draymond-Wiseman, that looks pretty strong.
@lisamckay564 asks, "Plans for fans to return to Chase?"
Bob Myers shared an update recently, so I’ll let him say it:
“We hope so. We've had conversations with the city. You see it happening around other arenas in other cities. We want to do it safely. It's publicly known that our owner is committed to kind of making it as safe as possible, even to the point of testing.
"But we have to follow those guidelines, and the city knows our position, and they have to do what they think is best, too.
"But we hope in the near future, or at least by the end of the season, we have some plan to get fans in.”
It sounds like conversations between the Warriors and the city of San Francisco are happening often, and the timeline for fans' return is trending toward soon.
@pancheinz say, “After the G League, J-Poole has been so much better, looks more mature in the field and scoring a lot. When is it safe to say from a coaching standpoint that he really has improved instead of just a couple of good games?"
Consistency is the clue that Jordan’s gains are more than a quick flash, and he’s had a good body of work since the All Star break.
Since the break, Jordan is averaging 19 points (on 48 percent shooting from the field and 39.7 percent on 3-pointers), three assists and one turnover in 28.8 minutes per game.
The minutes tell me he’s trusted (and yes, Steph is injured, someone has to fill, etc.), but Jordan was only playing about eight minutes per game after a string of DNPs in January. The G League did wonders.
Time in Orlando, Fla. was not the only thing that worked for Jordan. Myers mentioned a performance-tracker called "Noah that" Jordan used all summer. Noah shows a player the shot analytics for his arc, depth of shot and left-right accuracy. That information polished Jordan’s shot, and the G League fueled his confidence.
If a player’s second year in the league determines whether he’s on the way up or on the way out, Jordan should feel good about the work he has done to improve.
@iamjosepthabad asks, "What do the Wanamaker and Chriss deals mean for the Dubs short/long term?"
The trades mean the Warriors have two open roster spots and some relief in the luxury tax bill.
They can look to the buyout market for some help with a postseason run, or they could convert one or both of the two-way contracts for Juan Tosano-Anderson and Nico Mannion.
Using the disabled player exception (DPE) is a possibility, although that would pile on more salary and taxes.
Long term, I think Myers is waiting to make the biggest moves this summer. Who’s available, what assets it would take to land a star and what Kelly Oubre will do on the open market are all pending.
@renegadegabe says, “I was a little upset in KO’s postgame saying he has a little more to offer than coming off the bench. With comments like that do you think the Warriors should have traded him away?"
I understand Oubre’s perspective. He was a rotation player in his first seasons, and once he established himself as a starter, who wants to feel like they’re moving backwards?
To me, Kelly was declaring his worth. This summer, he is an unrestricted free agent and he could command $20 million a year. Why would Oubre short-change himself by indicating he’d consider a smaller role? It’s good business for him to explore the top offers.
As for the Warriors, if they cannot re-sign Oubre this summer, then yes, it stings that they didn’t “get something” for him at the trade deadline. Perhaps Myers determined the cost was too high if teams wanted Oubre plus the Minnesota pick.
Dealing Oubre would leave a large hole in the line-up and indicate the Warriors believe Klay will be 100 percent himself next season, which has yet to be determined. They’ll give Klay cushion to ease into the season.
It’s not terrible Oubre stayed. It feels like the Warriors will make an effort to re-sign him. Whether Oubre likes the terms is up to him.