Steve Kerr sat down in front of his computer screen and tried to turn that positivity, which was hard to feel in 2020. On Tuesday night, when he saw his young team win a resounding 116-106 victory over the Detroit Pistons, the basketball player tried to crush the numbers.
I think that when the program of the season came out, we all watched that trip and we thought that if we could go 2-2, it would be a really successful trip, Kerr said in a video conference with reporters. Especially considering the length of our low season and everything that happens to our team. Draymond [Green] was out, Draymond had disappeared from camp, all that. I think we all feel good, we’re happy to be home. And our confidence needs to increase because we’re starting to see what kind of team we need to be.
Kerr spoke with the kind of fatherly optimism that was seldom needed during the Golden State Warriors’ glory years. And it’s a remarkable change in the tenor that underlines exactly what the band learned on their first road trip of the season. Gone are the days when warriors could just throw the ball around and expect to crush anyone who stood in their way.
This transformation began early last season but was nipped in the bud when Stephen Curry broke his arm in match five. It’s a sense of Klay Thompson’s absence from the Warriors and a reminder that Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston can’t make it and save the day.
Of course the Warriors are 2-2, but Kerr knows like no other in the organization that not all victories are equal.
After being eliminated from the Eastern Conference in their first two games against the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, the Warriors needed a goal from Damion Lee to beat the outnumbered Chicago Bulls on Sunday night. Golden State then needed Andrew Wiggins, who scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, to beat a bad Pistons team that shot 15 out of 50 times out of the field in the first half (30%) and still led at halftime – but played the second half without Blake Griffin (concussion protocol).
After an absence of nine months and four games in a shortened season, what do we actually know about a group that is still getting to know each other?
Starting with mode
Every discussion about the positive starts with the James Wiseman Training Centre. The 19-year-old impressed his teammates and coaches throughout the journey and showed an offensive versatility that few so soon after the Warriors selected him with the second overall choice in the 2020 design.
He’s still a child and he’s only learning, Mr. Kerr said. It’s just amazing to see someone with so little university experience, no summer league, no training camp, to see how balanced they are, how willing they are to learn, how they listen without feeling criticized or judged. As far as adulthood goes, he’s past his years. Wrong! The file name is not specified. James Wiseman has now played more with the Golden State Warriors than with the University of Memphis. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
He also seems to be over his age in terms of skills. There is still a lot to learn from Sage, including how not to resort to cheap mistakes, but his talent is overwhelming. When a journalist mistakenly used the name Giannis Antetokounmpo to ask Curry what the wise man was doing on the coast, Curry couldn’t help but notice the same resemblance.
It really looked like a Giannis situation, Curry said. You’re right. You’re right.
The Warriors are confident that Wiseman will continue to improve and get better, which is a scary thought for the rest of the competition, especially as Green continues to coach the young prodigy defensively.
Touching the first jumper of the Obra
In addition to the emergence of the usual (albeit occasional) hot streak of Wiseman and Curry, the negatives more than outweigh the positives for a group of Warriors asking themselves questions from top to bottom. The most important is the new shooter Kelly Oubre Jr.
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After going 0 for 17 much earlier in the season, Oubre made his first three attempts on Tuesday – and then missed his next three. He will only hit one shot of 21 across the arch in Friday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Curry said he encouraged Oubre to continue filming, and Kerr is confident that Oubre will return to the action. But Golden State’s attack can’t function properly unless Oubre fires at a higher level – soon. As he did throughout the trip, Kerr tried to stay positive when he described Oubre after Tuesday’s game.
You just want to get rid of it, Mr. Kerr said. I told Kelly the other day that Clay had at least two seasons, maybe three, where he started at 5 o’clock for something 30 and couldn’t buy. And then come the games, you finally have a good game, and then you are about to reach your goal in terms of percentage and everything else.
The fact that Wiggins shot almost as badly as Tuesday made it even worse for Oubre – he shot only 16 out of 49 times before scoring 27 points against the Pistons.
The good news for Kerr and the Warriors is that Wiggins had the best part of his short career with the Warriors in the fourth quarter – wearing his new team while Kerry rested. But the bad news is that the inconsistency of this trip reminded many members of the Warriors Organization who hoped that the change of scenery would do Wiggins some good, that he looked much like the player who had disappointed so much in the Minnesota Timberwolves Organization because of his top-down play.
Like many Timberwolves coaches before him, Kerr has tried to be positive about Wiggins’ performance.
I think what I like about Andrew is that he’s used to coming to this competition, Kerr said. In terms of verification, criticism. He doesn’t care. A lot of attention has been paid to it, and the most important thing in this competition if you are criticized or judged is to stay and keep playing. And Andrew guessed it. So I don’t think he was too disturbed by all that talk.
Not quite a strength in digits
Besides the difficulties of Oubre and Wiggins, one of the things that Kerr has to worry about more than anything after this trip is that he still doesn’t know which players on the bench he can trust.
After years of relying on players like Iguodala, Livingston, David West and Zaza Pachulia, Kerr must have wondered what he would get every night. Brad Wanamaker, Eric Paschall, Kevon Looney, Mychal Mulder and Lee all made a promise once in a while, but they also questioned it.
Little veteran striker Kent Bazemore, from a reliable part of the new bank, seemed to be out of circulation after a week. Juan Toscano-Anderson, who was released and signed a bilateral contract, gave Kerr a few good minutes and was even placed in the starting line. But it’s fair to ask if it could have the same impact if teams started looking for more. Marquis Chriss, who is recovering from a dangerous leg injury during road training, had to play.
Green’s return will remove some of the fears and calmness that have sometimes struggled to hold out against their opponents, but his return should not be seen as a magical panacea for all ills. The same goes for Curry’s intelligence, which will be put to the test throughout the season as he sees more defenders than ever to meet him.
The Warriors hope to take a break in the coming weeks as they will be the last team in the league with seven players. But for all the positivity that Kerr and his players tried to turn after the first week of the game, it was Kerry who offered one of the greatest doses of reality while again trying to be optimistic.
It’s a little weird, Curry said. I don’t think it’s an advantage to have a garden when you’re on the road. But being in our house, of course our routine and surrounded by our family will hopefully have a positive effect on us.
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