PUTTING it bluntly, the Warriors suck right now. We all expected them to drop off once Kevin Durant bailed, but this level of incompetence isn’t usually associated with Dub Nation. After five consecutive NBA Finals appearances, they find themselves with just two wins from 14 tries and given the lengthy injuries to their stars, there’s no end to the agony in sight. However. There is a way Golden State can make the best out of this bad situation and while it won’t be easy, these five steps paint a promising path.
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Step 1 – Embrace The Tank…
AS the owners of the worst record in the NBA a top-5 pick in next year’s draft is up for grabs right now. While a lot of the top prospects don’t fit their current roster construct thanks to a trio of All-Star guards, owning a high draft pick isn’t a bad problem to have. A lot of teams will ’embrace the tank’ when they realise their season is lost, but the Warriors can get a jumpstart on the competition by loading up on the L’s early. They seem to be doing alright in their quest to lose as much as possible so far, but they can’t lose sight of their goal as their campaign progresses.
Step 2 – …By Leaving Steph Curry On Ice
THERE is nothing to gain from Steph Curry returning to the court this season. The dual MVP winner has shouldered the responsibility of carrying the franchise for the majority of the last decade, playing over 450 games during the last five years, including 93playoff games. After nursing such a heavy workload and given Curry’s injury history, playing the 31-year old again isn’t a wise move for his longevity. If Golden State wants to capture another elusive title during his career, keeping Curry fresh and giving him as much rest as they can is a smart route to go down. Keeping an elite competitor off the court is easier said than done and if he has his way he’ll return late in the year, but it makes sense for the higher powers to step in and advise the sharpshooter to think of the long term.
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Step 3 – Find Future Contributors
ANOTHER silver lining that can come from this lost season is the opportunity provided by the absence of Klay Thompson and Curry. With their best two players in street clothes, the likes of Alec Burks, Glen Robinson III and Willie Cauley-Stein are presented with a chance to really make a name for themselves. Robinson III has capitalised on this early on, starting all 14 games for the Warriors while playing over 30 minutes a night and averaging a career-high 10.6 points a night. The other source of production has come from the kids GSW added with Jordan Poole, Eric Paschall and Ky Bowman all providing flashes of promise and giving fans something to be optimistic about. There’s a high likelihood none of these players will become a star or even a long-tenured member of the squad, but if they can emerge as a part of a future winning nucleus it’ll be worth taking a few extra losses this season.
Step 4 – Make Your Mind Up On D’Angelo Russell – Quickly
NBA enthusiasts still remain divided over D’Angelo Russell’s future with the former second overall pick arriving in town as compensation for Durant walking this offseason. The rumour mill keeps reminding us it’s wise for Russell to rent rather than buy in Oakland as there’s no certainty he’ll be a part of Golden State’s long-term plan. Russell is letting his play do the talking thus far upping, his scoring numbers to 24.5 points per outing and giving the Warriors no immediate need to send the guard packing. He showcased just how much potential the 23-year old still has with a 52-point outburst against Minnesota a few weeks earlier and I can see both the pros and cons to keeping Russell into 2020 and beyond. Whichever path the front office chooses regarding D-Lo, they need to commit soon and never look back.
Step 5 – Test Steve Kerr’s Coaching Ability
THIS step ranks further down the pecking order of importance, but it’ll be intriguing to get a firsthand look at what Steve Kerr can cook up without a cupboard full of ingredients. Kerr has done enough to prove he isn’t a championship coach by accident, winning three rings with Golden State after claiming another five titles during his playing career. Having started in 2014, Kerr is already third in franchise history for coaching wins, claiming a victory in an incredible 78.1% of his games, including a staggering 80-25 playoff ledger. The Warriors’ sluggish start is bound to hurt his percentages, but if Kerr is as good a coach as I think he is, he’ll raise the floor of this team and help to instil the right behaviours in some of the lesser-known names. That alone may translate to the Warriors becoming a more competitive and successful group than we think.
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