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Three roster questions facing Warriors as they enter 2023

SAN FRANCISCO — With the calendar about to flip to a new year, the time has come for NBA front offices to start making decisions about how they want to approach the latter half of this season. This includes the Warriors, who have yet to win more than three straight games this season.

Inconsistency has been a trademark of this mixed-bag of a season. The Warriors have shown up to defend their home court, beating the Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies this month. But they’ve struggled to win on the road, losing to several lowly Eastern Conference teams in games the defending champs should’ve won.

Urgency is starting to become more palpable around the Warriors, who are clawing their way back to a .500 record without Stephen Curry, who’s out with a left shoulder injury.

The next couple of weeks could influence what general manager Bob Myers will do at the Feb. 9 trade deadline. In the meantime, the Warriors have a slate featuring several teams expected to be sellers when that time comes, giving Golden State an opportunity to scout and see first hand some potential additions. The Warriors are scheduled to host the Hornets, Jazz, Trail Blazers, Hawks, Pistons, Magic and Suns before embarking on a five-game trip with stops in San Antonio, Chicago and Washington D.C.

An inflection point is nearing for the Warriors. They are gradually improving, but outside reinforcements might be needed to bolster their roster and put them in a place to be a legitimate contender once again. Coach Steve Kerr said he and Myers are in constant communication about the team’s makeup.

“We feel good about the growth of our young guys and their development, we feel good about where we’re going,” Kerr said Tuesday before the Warriors’ tipped off against the Hornets. “We just don’t feel great about our record right now and the stumbles that we’ve had to this point. So this is a chance for us to try to build some momentum.”

In the meantime, here are three roster questions the Warriors are currently facing:

Will the Warriors fill their 15th spot with a two-way guy?

Anthony Lamb and Ty Jerome have emerged, receiving more consistent minutes than some of the Warriors’ former top draft picks. They’ve both earned the trust of their teammates and coaching staff to assume larger and more consistent roles in the rotation, especially with Andrew Wiggins and Stephen Curry sidelined.

But being on two-way contracts means the countdown is on.

Two-way contributors are limited to playing in only 50 regular-season games and can’t participate in the NBA playoffs. Lamb and Jerome are still a ways away from reaching the 50-game mark, as Lamb has played in 26 games and Jerome 18 entering Tuesday. But the Warriors could decide to fill their 15th roster spot by converting one of the two to an NBA contract, allowing them to keep contributing.

Will young guys prove to have staying power?

When the Warriors let Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bjelica among others walk in free agency, all eyes turned to the up-and-coming youth movement on the Warriors. Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and a finally healthy James Wiseman were all expected to take large leaps and fill those voids.

But there’s been ample growing pains with that plan. Wiseman was sent to the G League to get more experience and Moody and Kuminga have found themselves in and out of the rotation, with Kuminga taking on a more permanent role over the last month after adopting a defensive-minded approach.

Each of those players has made strides this season, but development isn’t linear. And with the Warriors barely a play-in team at this point in the season, the team’s margin of error is slimming and patience with the youngsters thinning.

The next few weeks will be a chance for the young guys to show why they deserve to be part of the team’s current vision as well as its long-term hopes. They could also play their way into being enticing trade pieces for other teams.

If not, who can the Warriors look to add?

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