Why Warriors' Ron Adams is encouraged about future after pause year

Why Warriors' Ron Adams is encouraged about future after pause year

After five straight runs to the NBA Finals, the Warriors' dynasty was put on pause this season with injuries, exhaustion and roster reconstruction hitting the team at once.

The moment Steph Curry went down with a broken hand in the fourth game of the season, it was clear the 2019-20 Warriors would not be making a playoff push in the loaded Western Conference. Instead, this would be a year to develop young players, add a foundational piece in Andrew Wiggins, discover which players can help the team return to the top and truly test the culture coach Steve Kerr and his staff have built.

After the NBA ratifies the return to play plan with 22 teams heading to Orlando, the Warriors' season will conclude with an NBA-worst 15-50 record and a lot of ugly losses. But despite all that, Warriors bench coach Ron Adams has found the positive in what was a trying year for the NBA's former goliath.

“It was difficult to watch, on the one hand,” Adams told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami about the Warriors' defensive struggles. “But going into the season, I knew there were pretty lofty expectations but it was pretty apparent to me this was going to be a season that tested all of us. … Having said that, I was really proud of this team from multiple standpoints. The first thing is I thought they were very competitive. We had some stinker games, but for the most part, regardless of who we were playing, regardless of the number of people we had active that night, the guys went out, they competed, they played pretty well together, they tried to play defense and it was pretty gratifying to see.

"I would say also that, to a man, they kept their enthusiasm during the course of the year. Especially with the last group that we ended up with, really a good group of guys, they kept their enthusiasm, they kept their work ethic. It’s not easy when you’re winning 15 games to come to work bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

"And I would say that for the most part these guys did that every day."

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How the culture Kerr has built held up during the turbulent season really stuck out to Adams as a positive.

“We talk a lot about team culture and the environment that we have with the Warriors and the environment that Steve (Kerr) had the foresight to embark on," Adams said. "And I think last year in many ways was, really, the culmination of the other five years. From what I saw exhibited on the part of the players, the coaches, the environment was healthy, it was vibrant. You know, we weren’t as irreverent as we were the first five years, because we had young players. It was a slightly different environment in that regard. But all the tenets were in play. I thought Steve did a wonderful job in guiding this group.

"It was a shock for Steve, too, because he’d never gone through a season like this. But I really feel this season in some ways, from a lot of standpoints, was one that any coach could take great pride in.

“Sometimes you have to do that during a tough season. You look at how your culture holds up, you look at how you perform, you look at your consistency, you look at the consistency of the guys going through this. You know me, I’m a pretty old-school guy, but I was really pleased with what I saw. I think it’s a real tribute to our leadership, in particular Steve and Bob (Myers) and the atmosphere that Steve continued on this season.”

The Warriors will be a different team when they take the floor next season. Both Curry and Klay Thompson -- who missed the entire season after tearing his ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals -- will be back. They'll be joined by Draymond Green and Wiggins, as well as Marquese Chriss, who found a home with Golden State after a rocky start to his NBA career.

The Warriors also will have a high NBA draft pick which then can use to inject youthful talent into the roster or package in a trade for an established veteran who can help them win right away.

Dreams of landing Giannis Antetkounmpo either this offseason or next will continue to dance through the minds of Warriors fans until The Greek Freak signs a max extension with the Milwaukee Bucks and pops that bubble.

[RELATED: Six reasons why Warriors will be back in NBA Finals in 2021]

With Curry, Thompson, Wiggins and Green all healthy, the Warriors will return to the top of the Western Conference next season. But they'll return to find the conference more competitive at the top than when they left it. Nonetheless, Curry, Thompson and Green are laser-focused on proving their doubters wrong and continuing a dynasty many believe ended at the hands of Kawhi Leonard.

The one bright light at the end of a dark tunnel for the Warriors was the fact that this was a true pause season. Their voyage to the bottom of the NBA would end with them shooting back up the ladder once they return to full strength.

The culture has been tested and came through the fire unscathed. The foundation is strong as ever. The Warriors' pause season is all but over and talk of their demise was greatly exaggerated.

Steve Kerr knows Warriors must 'begin to manage' Steph Curry's minutes

Steve Kerr knows Warriors must 'begin to manage' Steph Curry's minutes

Restarting a dynasty never is easy, and the Warriors will face many new challenges next season as they look to return to greatness after a pause year at the bottom of the NBA.

Among the new set of obstacles for coach Steve Kerr is something he hasn't needed to worry about in the past: managing Steph Curry's workload.

As Curry enters his age-32 season, Kerr knows it will be his staff's responsibility to make sure his superstar isn't overworked during the season, suggesting the Warriors will implement a version of the Celtics' "KG Plan," which Boston used toward the end of Kevin Garnett's tenure.

“Now, (Curry’s) at the point where he’s been at the peak of his powers for the last couple of years,” Kerr said on The Athletic's "Hoops, Adjacent" podcast. “If anything, it’s on us to try to begin to manage his minutes. We’ve always been really blessed. We’ve been able to do that because of the talent on our team. We’ve never really run Steph into the ground.

"We don’t have as much depth as we once did. It’s on us as a coaching staff to make sure we get him his rest every night, and we’re not wearing him out.”

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For the Celtics, that plan meant Garnett spending five minutes on the court and then five minutes on the bench. They tried to stick to that plan as diligently as possible during the 2011-12 season, but eventually, they needed Garnett to play more down the stretch and in the playoffs.

The Warriors' plan for Curry unlikely will be as regimented as Garnett's was in 2012. As Kerr noted, the Warriors no longer have the depth they once did, so even more will be placed on Curry and Klay Thompson's shoulders as they try to resurrect a dynasty that was brought down by injuries and exhaustion in the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.

After playing just five games this past season, Curry no doubt is champing at the bit to return and prove that he and the Warriors should not be cast aside yet. Managing Curry's minutes will be important to keep him fresh for what the Warriors hope is an extended playoff run, but it's clear they will have to ask him to shoulder a heavier load in order to accomplish their goals.

[RELATED: How Steph feels about Warriors playing in NBA's second bubble]

A critical offseason now faces the Warriors. After sinking to the bottom of the NBA, the Warriors will have a top-five draft pick and a $17.2 million trade exception to use to bolster the roster around Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green.

Returning to the unprecedented level of greatness they once enjoyed is too much to ask of Curry and the Warriors. You don't simply absorb the massive blow of losing Kevin Durant and return to that level.

But the Warriors will return to the court rested and healthy in December when the next season is expected to begin, and they should automatically return to contender status atop a now-loaded Western Conference.

Curry wants to prove that the Warriors' dynasty isn't done. For the Warriors to succeed in returning to the top of the NBA, though, it's important Kerr makes sure the two-time league MVP isn't worn down by the weight he's asked to carry.

Steph Curry offers thoughts on Warriors playing in second NBA bubble

Steph Curry offers thoughts on Warriors playing in second NBA bubble

As 22 NBA teams get acclimated to the bubble in Orlando, Steph Curry and the Warriors are in offseason mode. For now, at least.

The NBA reportedly is looking into having a second bubble in Chicago, where the eight teams who did not get the Orlando invite would participate in a minicamp and play a few games against each other. For Curry, that's something he doesn't sound interested in, but admits it could be beneficial for the younger Warriors.

"At the end of the day, it would be hard for me to play meaningless games, and that's pretty obvious," Curry said Friday on SportsCenter. "But in terms of young guys trying to get as much basketball to break up, for the bottom eight teams, this potential eight-, nine-month layoff, I think it's a good effort. Obviously safety first, that's what everything is about. So if they can answer those questions, then we'll see what happens."

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Warriors general manager Bob Myers has said the Warriors will be a good league partner and participate in a second bubble if one gets OK'd. But it is unlikely Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green would participate in said second bubble. 

In June, coach Steve Kerr said that a minicamp-style bubble would not be something that appealed to the Warriors.

[RELATED: Curry hopes others follow his lead in social justice push]

After a 15-50 season, the Warriors will finish recharging during the extended offseason before attempting to restart their dynasty in December, when the 2020-21 season is expected to begin.

The Warriors face a crucial offseason as they look to maximize the remaining prime years of Curry, Thompson and Green. They will have a top-five draft pick and have a $17.2 million trade exception to use to add another piece around their championship core.

The second bubble doesn't have much intrigue for a team that spent the last five Junes playing in The Finals. There's little reason for Curry, Thompson or Green to suit up for exhibition games this summer. All that matters is being healthy and rested for when the games count again.