SAN FRANCISCO — The Warriors are young and old.
They’re good one night and then painfully bad the next.
But there is one thing that the 2023-2024 Warriors are certainly not:
Now, the Warriors have never been a high-flying team. Dunks aren’t their style.
That wasn’t a problem in the past — the Warriors brains could make up for their lack of brawn.
But it’s a problem now.
Golden State’s one-time frenetic offense looks slow and stale.
That lack of athleticism is on full display on defense — the Warriors can’t stay in front of marks on the perimeter or defend the rim.
The Warriors didn’t expect this going into the season, but injuries to Gary Payton II and the general absence of Andrew Wiggins (even when he’s playing) have pushed an already unathletic team over the edge.
The Warriors still have herky-jerk players, role guys who can do the little things right, scrappers, and spot-up shooters.
Honestly, the Warriors are so unatheltic Trayce Jackson-Davis looks like he’s a high-flyer.
And yes, Steph Curry is still an absurd athlete in his own right, but even he’s moving less than in years past.
But this team has one athletic spark plug these days: Jonathan Kuminga.
That’s not nearly enough to get by in this league.
Last year, the Warriors were first in the NBA in pace. This season, they’re middle-of-the-pack.
It’s proven obvious in the Warriors’ last two games against the Pistons and Raptors — young teams that don’t know a lick, but who boast athleticism to burn.
The Warriors barely beat the awful Pistons and were run off the court by the Raptors.
And while, yes, the Warriors have beaten the Celtics and played the Nuggets tight, it should be noted that those are two of the slowest teams in the NBA — they don’t challenge the Warriors at a corporeal level.
But the teams with better athletes; the squads that want to run the floor, attack the rim, and push the pace — Oklahoma City, Dallas, and the new-look Raptors — have whooped the Dubs.
And don’t forget what happened at the end of that Nuggets loss — Denver coach Mike Malone went with a more athletic lineup to close the game. Long perimeter defenders Peyton Watson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with the quick-reading Nikola Jokić, the penetrate-and-kick game of Jamal Murray, and the rim-attacking play of Aaron Gordon — a 20-plus-point Warriors lead became a loss.
But what’s more obvious than the Warriors’ lack of possessions per game is they have per game is how methodical those possessions are.
The ball doesn’t whip around as fast. Players don’t move as much. And a zone defense can only cover up for so much on the other end of the floor. They’re not running a high pick-and-roll like seemingly every other team, but there are plenty of possessions that look as if they are, there’s so little motion to the team’s motion offense.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr told me Tuesday that the slower pace was by design. With Chris Paul coming into the fold, the Dubs wanted to be more thoughtful in possession.
The idea was that playing at a slower pace would limit turnovers, too
Indeed, the Warriors’ turnover percentage is, in fact, down year-over-year.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that one-percent difference while watching.
The sad part is that the Warriors can’t do much of anything about this but hope Wiggins turns a corner.
For what it’s worth, Kerr thinks the Canadian wing has played better as of late — so long as you ignore the last two games.
I wish I were graded like that in school — just take the last two off the ledger.
As for the trade market, Kuminga is the team’s most valuable trade asset, and he’s the only high-level athlete on the roster. Plus, there are not many above-the-rim players available on the cheap.
I suppose the Warriors could embrace the methodical better and, you know, not turn the ball over in their new, slower half-court offense, which averages more than 14 seconds a possession.
I won’t be holding my breath.
The truth is that this day was always coming. The Warriors blitzed the league when they took over in Kerr’s first season, 2014-15. A decade later, you can’t expect anyone who has been along for the ride to have the same pep in their step.
While that’s not an excuse for many of the team’s young guys, the truth is that this team was built around — and in the image of — the olds.
In other words, this team was built to be driven until the wheels came off.
This team is certainly slowing down. Those wheels might not be long yet.
Dieter Kurtenbach www.chicoer.com Golden State Warriors,NBA,Sports
2024-01-10 14:00:40 , Chico Enterprise-Record