By Shayna Rubin
An explanation for the defending champions’ disappointing start lies somewhere between the starters and the young bench.
The starters’ early turnover and foul sloppiness can be attributed to a little “championship hangover,” as coach Steve Kerr put it after Golden State’s fourth straight loss in Orlando on Thursday night.
But hangovers wear off. And that’s when reality sets in.
The time it could take for the young bench to produce within the Warriors’ scheme could prove costly unless changes are made. The Warriors’ 0-5 road record, league-worst defense and 3-6 record was the last straw for Kerr and his coaching staff to start considering changes.
“We’ve gotta find combinations that work off the bench. We’ll be making some changes,” Kerr said. “We’ve had a decent look at combinations, so it’s time to start something different.”
How will those changes look? There are a few movable puzzle pieces on the bench that just might click.
“We don’t want to be insane and keep doing the same ting expecting different results,” Steph Curry said. “But we have to pick each other up and understand that we have everybody in that locker room has to figure it out. that’s what the job requires.”
Jonathan Kuminga could be tapped for more consistent playing time. The 2021 first-round pick played zero minutes in three of the team’s nine games and has seen limited time overall. He improved last season as an on-ball defender — something this team sorely lacks now — and can play the slasher role next to the starters.
Kuminga fits into the Warriors’ small-ball lineups and could swap in for some of James Wiseman’s minutes. Wiseman saw fewer minutes throughout the road trip and hit a wall in Orlando, where his three personal fouls and technical foul earned for throwing a ball against a stanchion out of frustration for his two-point, three-rebound performance. The Warriors are a minus-29 when he’s on the court.
The Warriors should look to see how to unlock Jordan Poole, who is a team-worst minus-31 when he’s on the court. Poole is shooting an ice-cold 33% from 3 so far this season and is a liability defensively when not sharing the court with stronger defenders. At times, he looks preoccupied trying to be a playmaker feeding others instead of create for himself — he thrived last year once he found an even balance.
“Everybody is going to get a chance to play,” Kerr said. “We’ve got guys who are dying to get on the floor and we have to find some combinations that click. We’ll discuss that as a staff and figure that out.”
They’ll also have Donte DiVincenzo and, at some point, Andre Iguodala to re-integrate into the rotations. Iguodala’s expert defensive feel off the bench could help set the bench units straight. With JaMychal Green settling into a new flow, the discombobulated bench is the team’s sore thumb thus far. But the veterans won’t pile onto their young teammates.
“I’m not going to sit up here and point fingers,” Green said. “Yes, it is the young guys’ fault, but it’s not more their fault than our fault. Yes, they have some things to learn, but equally we have responsibilities we have to live up to, and we’re not doing that either.”
Communication has been an issue throughout. The young guys are still learning to communicate not just with each other, but with the veterans. The Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Green and Kevon Looney starting rotation’s collective plus-29.3 is among the league best — they have established chemistry and two vocal leaders in Looney and Green to glue the defense together.
But the communication falters when the core players are sharing the court with some of the new guys. That’s when the fouls and turnovers — an issue against the Magic — start to pile up.
“When it gets quiet out there its tough to have confidence that you’re in the right spot, and then you’re one step behind, rotating late and then you’re fouling,” Curry said.
“We understand that and it’s tough right now to go out and keep fighting hard and understand that our energy and effort twas there and we don’t have results to show for it.”
Source: Paradise Post