Warriors

Why Warriors' Steph Curry is 'biggest variable' in 2019-20 NBA season

Why Warriors' Steph Curry is 'biggest variable' in 2019-20 NBA season

The Warriors have been the NBA's model of consistency for half a decade, but things are going to look much different this season.

With Klay Thompson rehabbing from a torn ACL and Kevin Durant doing the same from a ruptured Achilles as a member of the Nets, Golden State enters coach Steve Kerr's sixth season in an uncertain position. The Warriors still have two-time MVP Stephen Curry, however, and perhaps no player in the league will have a bigger effect on their team's fortunes than Curry. 

"I think the biggest variable in the NBA right now is what that No. 30 does this season," NBC Sports NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh said on NBC Sports' NBA Season Tip-Off Show on Tuesday. "How many games does he play? How much load management is he going to see in the regular season this year and how many games is he going to take off? Because in the preseason, he was on fire." 

As Haberstroh noted, Curry averaged 39.5 points per 36 minutes during the preseason. Haberstroh predicted Curry would win the scoring title in his season preview column, and Curry's preseason total easily would have led NBA players who played at least 1,000 regular-season minutes last season. This preseason provides a small sample size, but Curry was similarly explosive away from Durant in the last three seasons and before he joined the Warriors in the first place. 

"[If Curry's] going to win the scoring title and the Warriors win 50 games, I think he's going to be in the MVP conversation," Haberstroh said. 

[RELATED: How Kawhi, Clippers will give Dubs some Finals déjà vu]

Fifty wins will be a tall task, given how loaded the Western Conference is and how much learning-on-the-fly the Warriors will have to do following an offseason of change. NBC Sports Bay Area Warriors Insider Monte Poole noted that Curry will have to get to know a new backcourt partner in D'Angelo Russell, but he will also have to contend with opposing defenses' undivided focus. 

"I think, when you look at Steph, he's going to get a lot of attention this year," Poole said. "Teams are going to basically say, 'You know what, don't let Steph beat us. Anybody else? Fine. But don't let Steph beat us.'"

Curry undoubtedly is used to the spotlight, but how he responds to a brighter one during his 11th NBA season will determine the Warriors' fortunes in 2019-20. 

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 110-102 dud loss vs. Grizzlies

warriorstakeawaysusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 110-102 dud loss vs. Grizzlies

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Warriors entered Chase Center on Monday seeking the modest goal of winning consecutive games for the first time this season.

They failed, with a hail of missed shots and a flurry of turnovers sending them to a 110-102 loss to a Grizzlies team that had lost nine of its last 10 games.

The Warriors fell behind early, briefly went ahead in the third quarter and spent the fourth quarter trying to mount a comeback they couldn’t quite complete.

Here are three takeaways from a game in which the Warriors shot 37.6 percent and were picked apart on defense in the second half:

Morant routs Paschall in battle of rookies

Each team came into the game with a strong Rookie of the Year candidate, forward Eric Paschall for the Warriors and guard Ja Morant for the Grizzlies.

Morant, who had missed the last four games with back spasms, was better on this night and it was not close.

Paschall scored only five points, 12 below his average, while shooting 2-of-10 from the field and 0-of-2 from beyond the arc. He grabbed two rebounds and finished minus-14 over 22 minutes.

Morant practically willed the Grizzlies to victory, scoring 26 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-5 from deep and 7-of-8 from the line. He added seven assists and two rebounds, playing 29 minutes.

Morant made a couple dazzling plays, including a soaring dunk to give Memphis a 108-100 lead with 1:19 to play, effectively closing out the Warriors.

Draymond cranks up the offense

Though Draymond Green’s reputation for being a highly-effective defender lives on, he often is subjected to critiques about his scoring ability.

It’s not that he can’t. It’s that he usually doesn’t and hasn’t had to -- until now.

Presumably taking note of the team’s scoring challenges, Green immediately turned up his aggression on offense, scoring a team-high 14 first-half points in 16 minutes. Green, along with veteran guard Alec Burks (11 points), kept the offense from falling flat in the first half.

Green totaled 16 points, tying a season-high, shooting 6-of-13 from the field and 1-of-3 from deep.

The Warriors are a different team when Green is a scoring threat. It appears he is attempting to better establish that on a roster that needs it.

[RELATED: Draymond has ambitious plan for Warriors rookie Paschall]

Oh, those turnovers

Coach Steve Kerr hasn’t done much ranting about turnovers, a subject he often harped on over the last five seasons. Perhaps because of the youth and relative shared inexperience of his roster.

That’s about to change.

The turnovers are becoming almost routine. After rarely coming close to the 20-turnover mark in the first 20 games, the Warriors are averaging 19.0 over the last five. They committed 15 Monday night.

Worst of all, most of the turnovers were of the live-ball variety. The Grizzlies turned those 15 turnovers into 22 points.

That’s what stings most of all, seeing those giveaways turn into easy points the other way. The Warriors’ last five opponents, including Memphis, averaged 21.0 points off turnovers.

Warriors vs. Grizzlies watch guide: Lineups, injuries and player usage

warriorswatchguideap.jpg
AP

Warriors vs. Grizzlies watch guide: Lineups, injuries and player usage

SAN FRANCISCO -- The long, long injury list that accompanied the Warriors across the country for much of the past few weeks has been whittled to a mere three.

And two of the unavailable players, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, are not coming back anytime soon.

[RELATED: Watch Warriors vs. Grizzlies live stream]

The return of second-year guard Jacob Evans III will give the Warriors 12 players Monday night, when they face the Memphis Grizzlies at Chase Center. Pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 6:30, with tip-off scheduled for 7:40.

The Warriors (5-19) are seeking consecutive victories for the first time this season. Not since 2000-01 have they gone so deep into a season without winning back-to-back games.

The Grizzlies (6-16), who won three in a row in mid-November but since have lost nine of 10 -- including to the Warriors on Nov. 19 in Memphis -- will get a boost from the return of flashy rookie point guard Ja Morant.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Warriors
F Eric Paschall
F Draymond Green
C Willie Cauley-Stein
G Glenn Robinson III
G D’Angelo Russell

Grizzlies
F Jae Crowder
F Jaren Jackson Jr.
C Jonas Valanciunas
G Dillon Brooks
G Ja Morant

INJURY REPORT

Warriors
G Jacob Evans III (left adductor strain) was upgraded from questionable to available after the morning shootaround. G Damion Lee (right hand non-displaced fracture) was downgraded from probable to out. G Stephen Curry (left hand fracture) and G Klay Thompson (right ACL rehab) are listed as out. F Alen Smailagic is on assignment with G-League Santa Cruz.

Grizzlies
F Jae Crowder (illness) is listed as questionable. F Kyle Anderson (right heel soreness) is listed as doubtful. F Brandon Clarke (left oblique soreness) is listed as out. G/F Josh Jackson is on assignment with the G-League Memphis Hustle. F Andre Iguodala is not with the team.

ROTATION OUTLOOK

Warriors
Coach Steve Kerr finally has enough available players to form an actual rotation based on merit rather than need ... The return of Evans gives the Warriors another option at PG, along with starter D’Angelo Russell and additional backup Ky Bowman. Evans missed 21 games with left adductor strain ... Paschall has scored in double figures in each of the last 13 games. The last Warriors rookie to do so was Thompson in 2012 ... With three rookies -- SG Jordan Poole, Bowman and Paschall -- the Warriors lead the league in rookie scoring at 33.1 ppg ... The Warriors have won the last five home games against the Grizzlies and eight of the last 10 overall.

Grizzlies
Morant has missed the last four games with back spasms. Both his activity level and minutes total and will be monitored closely. His return sends Tyus Jones back to reserve status ... Clarke, who spent two seasons at San Jose State before transferring to Gonzaga, has missed the last three games. The rookie is having a fabulous season, averaging 11.8 ppg off the bench on 63.0-percent shooting from the field ... Valanciunas has scored in double figures 17 times, including three occasions with at least 20 points. He’s had three 20-10 games in the last two weeks and will be a tough physical matchup for any Warriors big man ... The Grizzlies lead the league in paint points, averaging 54.2 per game ... If neither Crowder nor Anderson is available, Solomon Hill could get the start at SF ... Though Iguodala officially is on the roster, he has yet play or travel with the team ... Memphis is 0-5 against Pacific Division opponents.

Officials
Brian Forte (crew chief), Tre Maddox, Brandon Adair