Every time the Warriors have a nice moment, a certain reality persists and often rises to the surface
It’s the starting lineup. They haven’t been good. Even a win against the champion Lakers can’t completely overshadow that cold, hard fact. Now, coach Steve Kerr has acknowledged the group’s struggles in a very public way. Check out what he told San Francisco’s 95.7 The Game.
That’s pretty wild stuff from Kerr. Mostly because there was no need to say that publicly, even if that’s what he was thinking, which it obviously is.
Here are the rest of Kerr’s comments from the above clip.
“If this was a one time thing I would start a different group and probably go to some different combinations. But this is the team that I want to develop a really good defensive identity and James needs to be out there. Kelly and Andrew need to be together, on the wings, guarding LeBron, Kawhi, Paul George and all those guys.
“So it’s going to take some time. And in the meantime, there’s going to be some growing pains. And I’m okay with it because for us to be great, down the road, whether it’s by the end of this year or even next season, James has to develop and Kelly and Andrew have to get comfortable. I’m willing to sacrifice some things early in the season to try to get where we want to go later on.”
So while Kerr said he would change his starting lineup, he utilized a hypothetical situation that clearly does not exist at the moment. He knows, as does everyone, that the season is much longer than one game.
Another part of Kerr’s decision to take the long view probably relates to the abbreviated offseason. That made it difficult to integrate all his new pieces, namely James Wiseman, Kelly Oubre and Andrew Wiggins, all of whom Kerr mentions in his statement. Implementing Oubre has been especially difficult. He was a quick acquisition after star guard Klay Thompson injured his Achilles on draft day.
Also, it must be noted that Oubre will be a free agent after this season. I don’t figure him to be in the Warriors’ plans for next year, but stranger things have happened.
As for Wiseman, he’s shown immense potential, but he’s 19 years old. Against the top big men he’s faced, the rookie center has struggled. Wiggins has been the most low maintenance because he’s the most polished player and he was on the Warriors’ terrible 2019-20 squad.
But the most important aspect of this is the Warriors’ defense. Kerr has been adamant this entire season that he wants to build his identity on defense, and he reiterates it here.
Hopefully his team understands that this doesn’t mean Kerr’s not trying to win right now. He wants to win the most games he can this season and in turn set the table for Thompson’s return.
For that to happen, the team needs a backbone. Kerr is in the process of installing it now. And still, even as a work in progress, they beat the Lakers the other night and have a chance to improve to 8-6 on Wednesday against the Spurs.
(Photo credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)