The questions that will determine the Golden State Warriors’ repeat title run

The Golden State Warriors had a certain shine coming into training camp four weeks ago. It’s a glow you have after spending the summer celebrating a championship and preparing to defend it next season.

Klay Thompson was spotted dancing on his boat. Stephen Curry had his jersey retired at his alma mater and was inducted into Davidson’s Hall of Fame. Jordan Poole toured Europe. James Wiseman finally has a summer league under his belt.

Despite losing key rotation players Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr. during free agency, the Warriors retooled their bench, adding JaMychal Green and Donte DiVincenzo. Warriors icon Andre Iguodala announced he will be returning to the team for a 19th and final NBA season.

That shine continued internally as the Warriors spent five days in Japan for two preseason games. But shortly after they landed back in San Francisco, Golden State was faced with what coach Steve Kerr called “the biggest crisis” of his tenure with the Warriors when video of Draymond Green punching Poole during practice leaked out to the whole world.

The team swear the argument is over and that Tuesday’s ring night was the ultimate patch for the incident. They say it won’t affect their quest for their fifth title in nine years.

What impact Green’s actions have on the Warriors is a question that will play out throughout the season. And it’s not the only problem surrounding the team.

Here are the five biggest questions facing the Warriors for the 2022-23 season:


How will the Warriors manage their rotation?

In her season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers, Kerr played an 11-man rotation and nine players recorded more than 15 minutes. All but one active player (Patrick Baldwin Jr.) saw minutes and all but two (Baldwin and Ryan Rollins) played in the first half.

That depth is ideal given the situation the Warriors are in now – with Draymond Green and Thompson unwilling to play full minutes and Iguodala unwilling to play at all. But Kerr and his coaching staff will eventually face some tough decisions.

“They have 11 guys who probably deserve an opportunity to play,” Curry said. “There will be different lineups every night, especially at the start of the year. … We need to evolve that chemistry over time. They will keep trying and experimenting and giving the guys a chance to go out and mature.”

This isn’t the first time the Warriors have faced it. They had it last season, but this season’s bench — and the ebb and flow of talent — is deeper than it was a year ago. The team has drawn comparisons to the 2014-15 roster when the team coined the phrase “strength in numbers”.

“This team was a veteran,” Kerr said. “This team is made up of young people but the talent is really evident.”

JaMychal Green and DiVincenzo’s additions replace losses from Porter Jr. and Payton II. They’re by no means copies, but Green gives the Warriors a ground spacer — he’s a career 37 percent 3-point shooter — defensive presence and a great body in depth. For his part, DiVincenzo gives them another ball handler and more offensive versatility.

But what makes the difference in the depth of the Warriors this season is their youngsters. Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody are being asked to play more minutes and play bigger roles in the rotation, while Wiseman center Kevon Looney will support.

During the preseason, Kerr said only his sixth man was decided – Poole. That being said, significant rotation points and minutes are up for grabs. How they are distributed will be a crucial variable in warriors’ attempts to replicate themselves.

Where does the Warriors’ “camaraderie” stand after the hit?

The warriors firmly believe that they have moved on.

Green took several days off from the team, apologized to Poole and his family and the organization and said he was willing to take on the work of rebuilding bridges. But that was before he pushed back on the notion that he needed to restore confidence in his teammates.

“It’s about making sure our team camaraderie is there,” Green said on the day of his return. “You realize when you’re playing against a team and they have a good camaraderie…if they’re not, they’re easy to break…if you’ve got that, you can build anything. [Our camaraderie doesn’t] be very shaken.”

Green might be right that playing well together is more important on the pitch than it is in the dressing room. Their season opener against the Lakers showed Green and Poole can coexist on the court and play together, with Poole connecting with Green with a pick and roll in the second quarter.

But the Warriors have been playing in a bubble since the altercation. They played three preseason games at home and are playing their first three regular season games in San Francisco.

But what happens when the Warriors take to the streets? How will different fan bases use this against the Warriors? Will players, coaches and leaders be ready to deal with it game by game? How will they react when every interaction between Poole and Green is analyzed?

The pressure will increase. And there are far more questions than answers about the defining characteristics of this Warriors team and its dynasty.

How will the Warriors handle their $500 million question?

After the blow, both Poole’s and Green’s contracts were major topics of discussion for Golden State, as potentially hundreds of millions of dollars were at stake. Ten days later, Poole signed a four-year, $140 million extension. Andrew Wiggins also signed for four years and $109 million, preparing the team for a whopping $483 million in taxes.

Green has a $27.6 million player option awaiting him next summer, and if he declines it, he will enter free agency in 2024. Green doesn’t expect a new deal this year and he said he’s not thinking about negotiations right now.

With 12 players on next season’s roster, the Warriors’ salary will already be $215 million and their taxes are $268 million. In this scenario, Draymond Green chooses his player option.

No GPII, no Otto Porter Jr., no Mike Brown: How can the Warriors maintain their elite defense?

Despite the outstanding shooting and offensive firepower that the Warriors are known for, they like to think of themselves as a defense-first team. The Warriors showed it again last season.

But Golden State also lost its defensive mastermind to Sacramento in assistant coach Mike Brown. Golden State promoted Kenny Atkinson after leaving the Charlotte head coaching position and is considered the new defensive coordinator, but Kerr told ESPN the team is also relying heavily on assistant coach Chris DeMarco to lead the defense this season .

“Mike got a lot of support from Chris last year,” Kerr said. “Chris is the bridge from last year, so everything we did then we’re going to do this year. There are a few tweaks here and there, but for the most part we play a similar style and I’m really happy with the work they’re doing.”

Consider: The Warriors allowed 106.6 points per 100 possessions last season and are second only to their Finals mates, the Boston Celtics, according to ESPN Stats & Information. They denied 91% of their opponents’ shots last season, the second-highest percentage in the NBA, according to Second Spectrum.

It’s no surprise that Draymond Green was – and continues to be – the anchor of the Warriors defense. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Green allowed 0.68 points per direct post, third best of 158 players to defend more than 40 post-ups.

But the Warriors lost two of their other key defenders in Payton and Porter.

Payton allowed a 45.6% effective field goal percentage in half-court matchups last season, 11th-best out of 254 players per second spectrum.

Of 254 players with at least 2,000 half-court games last season, Porter allowed the 12th lowest team points per 100 total court games (91.1), Payton the 13th lowest (91.2) and Green the 40th. -least (93.4).

So, who exactly is taking on the defensive weakness?

“JaMychal was amazing,” Kerr told ESPN. “Being able to add a big, strong player that rebounds, that box, that can defend multiple points…he can defend 5s and protect; he’s a key player for us when it comes to replacing these guys.”

Can they stay sane?

Last season, the Warriors struggled through injury after injury as their entire roster was unhealthy by the first game of the first round of the playoffs. And even then, they suffered a hit in the second round when Payton broke his elbow.

Thompson missed the first four months of the season as he ended his recovery from back-to-back cruciate ligament and Achilles tendon injuries. Wiseman, who the Warriors say will not play under any specific load management this season, missed the entire season. Green missed 28 games from mid-January to mid-March with a back injury. Curry missed the last 12 games of the regular season with a broken foot. Iguodala played in just 31 games.

According to Spotrac, 12 players missed a combined 308 games for Golden State last season, the fourth most in the NBA.

Iguodala’s availability this season is still in question and the Warriors aren’t counting on him to play big minutes.

Thompson missed the first two preseason games in Japan due to lack of fitness and starts the regular season with a minute limit. After playing 20 minutes in the Warriors’ season opener, Thompson is unlikely to have a major bump against the Nuggets on Friday.

“I don’t think it will take very long [until I can play my full minutes]’ Thompson said Thursday afternoon. “But I feel great. I keep working with the minutes I play and if we keep winning we’re so deep I’m in a very fortunate position to be able to do that [ease in].”

Last season, the Warriors had the sixth-oldest roster in the NBA. This season they are 10.

Injuries are of course inevitable. But if the Warriors hope for a repeat, a repeat of last year’s unfortunate injury streak will make it more difficult.

https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/34841451/the-questions-determine-golden-state-warriors-repeat-title-run The questions that will determine the Golden State Warriors’ repeat title run

Emma Bowman

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