SAN FRANCISCO — It’s been five months since the Los Angeles Lakers ended the Warriors’ season in the Western Conference semifinals.
After the loss, the Warriors players went their separate ways to decompress from the long, grueling season. But many came back to the home base in San Francisco sooner than the previous summer motivated to right what went wrong during their title defense. The roster underwent a little bit of a shake-up, with the team making a clear commitment to capitalizing on now with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson still together.
Saturday’s preseason opener against the Lakers will present the first opportunity to see what it’ll be like to have Curry and Chris Paul sharing the court. It could also provide a glimpse at how much growth some of the young players, such as Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody, have made over the last few months.
“It’s really almost like another practice,” coach Steve Kerr said Friday. “We’re looking at executing some stuff we put in, building good habits. Nobody’s gonna play a ton of minutes. We’re looking to continue to focus on the work.”
It’s early. But much has been made of the budding chemistry of this season’s Warriors squad through the first five days of camp.
“We want to get off to a good start,” Kerr said. “We have a lot of new pieces. We feel like we have to improve in a lot of key areas. And so it’s all about building habits. The only way you can build habits is training camp. Once the season starts, you don’t practice that much.”
Many have made a point to bring up the summer pick-up sessions that were organized by Curry, Draymond Green and Paul in San Francisco, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Just how useful were those sessions?
“We’ll see,” Paul said.
Indeed, we will. Starting Saturday.
What to know about Saturday
Both teams will be down a starter. Green is out for at least three preseason games after spraining his left ankle before camp opened. Meanwhile, LeBron James won’t play in the preseason opener, though word out of Lakers’ training camp is that he’s 100% healthy.
With Green sidelined, the Warriors can put off having to make a decision on whether Paul will start or come off the bench for the first time in his career. Kerr already revealed that Curry, Paul, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Kevon Looney will start Saturday’s game.
Though that group is starting, don’t expect the veterans to play heavy minutes just yet.
“You play an exhibition game after five practices; to me, it’s too early,” Kerr said. “We’ll ease guys in. I would much prefer to have 10 days of camp before we played a real game, but it’s fine. So we just adapt accordingly.”
After Saturday’s opener, the Warriors will continue their preseason slate with a trip to Los Angeles next Friday before a stop in Sacramento on Oct. 15. They’ll host the Kings Oct. 18 before wrapping up their preseason schedule with a home game against the San Antonio Spurs Oct. 18, four days before their season opener against the Phoenix Suns at Chase Center.
Brandin Podziemski has seen himself as being the perfect fit for the Warriors ever since they brought him in a few months ago for a pre-draft workout.
And with four practices under his belt, the No. 19 overall pick out of Santa Clara still feels that well.
“It’s been very well for myself,” Podziemski said of how training camp has gone for him. “When I got drafted here, I think the way I play fits them, the way they play fits me. So knowing the terminology and the way they like to play was simple… There wasn’t much of a learning curve.”
Podziemski will make his preseason and home debut Saturday along with Trayce Jackson-Davis, the former Indiana stretch-big who went in the second round this June. Both are expected to see the floor.
Podziemski said he’ll have some nerves but will try to keep a level head.
“Just put your best foot forward,” Podziemski said. “Obviously you want to come out with a win but you also want to play like yourself.”