Why Warriors Fans Should Expect Fewer 3s and More Wins Under Steve Kerr

The Golden State Warriors will be looking to take the next step under new head coach Steve Kerr, hoping that a healthy lineup can make waves in the Western Conference. What can we expect out of the Dubs in year one with the new coaching staff?

Matt Kolsky of KNBR joins Stephen Nelson to play a game of over/under in the video above.

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Rockets beat Warriors 90-83 in exhibition game (Yahoo Sports)

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 14: Trevor Ariza #1 of the Houston Rockets shoots against Omer Asik #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center on October 14, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images)

HIDALGO, Texas (AP) — The Houston Rockets welcomed back two stars who had been dealing with injuries most of this preseason. The Golden State Warriors rested their two stars.


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Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets 10/19/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Golden State Warriors squared off against the Houston Rockets in a preseason matchup Sunday night. 

Steph Curry’s Warriors are finding a groove this preseason under new head coach Steve Kerr. 

The Rockets will be looking to prove that their top-heavy roster is capable of contending with any team in the Western Conference. 

Watch the video for full highlights. 

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Heat win first game of preseason, beat Warriors (Yahoo Sports)

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 17: James Ennis #32 of the Miami Heat shoots the ball against the Miami Heat during a game on October 17, 2014 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chris Bosh scored 21 points and Luol Deng and Shawne Williams added 19 each to help the Miami Heat win their first game in the preseason with a 115-108 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.


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Warriors beat Nuggets 104-101

James Michael McAdoo scores 20 points, Warriors rally to beat Nuggets 104-101

      
 

 

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Golden State Warriors vs. Miami Heat 10/17/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Golden State Warriors looked to continue their strong preseason showing on Friday night, when they faced the Miami Heat. The Warriors’ explosive offense had been red-hot all preseason, but they faced a tough test from a veteran Heat squa

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Warriors beat Nuggets 104-101 (Yahoo Sports)

ONTARIO, CA - OCTOBER 12: Marreese Speights #5 of the Golden State Warriors looks on during the game against the against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 12, 2014 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — James Michael McAdoo scored 16 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and the Warriors rallied to beat the Nuggets 104-101 on Thursday night for their fourth straight victory.


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Warriors Hope Steve Kerr May Be Final Ingredient in Creating NBA Juggernaut

LOS ANGELES — An abundance of enticing young talent drew Steve Kerr back to California last spring.   

There was 26-year-old Stephen Curry, the baby-faced point guard with the killer three-point shot.   

There was Klay Thompson, the 24-year-old shooting guard with the smooth two-way game.   

And then there was Matthew Kerr, age 16, whose talents are more cerebral.

Steve Kerr spent last week, his first as the Golden State Warriors‘ head coach, instilling a new offensive mindset (key phrase: “move the ball”), while working out his team in Santa Monica. On Friday, he wrapped up the lesson by early afternoon, to give himself time to beat the traffic to San Diego.

Matthew Kerr was starring that night in a high-school production of “Rent,” and Dad planned to be there.

This is the advantage of being the head coach: You set the schedule. And this was the allure of coaching in the Bay Area, instead of New York: Kerr is just hours away from his San Diego home.

“I can maintain a semblance of family life,” a smiling Kerr told Bleacher Report last week. “The balance is important.”

Kerr’s wife Margot and their two sons, Matthew and 21-year-old Nick, reside in San Diego. Kerr’s daughter, Madeleine, is a sophomore at UC Berkeley, a short drive from the Warriors’ practice facility.

These are perks the Knicks could not offer. Even the presence of Phil Jackson, a personal mentor, could not trump the familial tugs.

“I’ll be a better coach, just having my family around,” Kerr said. “It’s empowering.”

Also empowering: Having a roster stocked with All-Star talent to begin your coaching career. On this front, there was no comparison. And there’s no question Kerr made the right call.

The Knicks offered Carmelo Anthony (assuming he re-signed) and the promise of cap room. The Warriors offered Curry, Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee, Andrew Bogut and, well, by that point it was already a rout.

Kerr’s challenge now is to harness that talent more effectivelyand take it furtherthan his predecessor, Mark Jackson, could. Though the Warriors won 47 and 51 games the last two seasons, making the playoffs both years, there was always a sense they had underachieved.

The Warriors tapped Kerr to unlock their full offensive potential.

The Curry-Thompson backcourt might be the NBA‘s best (a “beautiful combination,” Kerr says). Lee is a skilled scorer. Iguodala and Bogut are deft passers. The Warriors should be one of the most potent teams in the NBA. Yet they ranked 12th last season in points per 100 possessionssolid, but not elite.

The offense too often stalled and stagnated, resulting in muddled isolation plays and contested jumpers. There was little movement or dynamism, and little sense of cohesion.

“We had guys last year that sometimes wouldn’t touch the ball for 10 straight possessions,” Bogut told Bleacher Report, “and then all of a sudden a key play, Steph or Klay get doubled, swing-swing-swing, they’re open in the corner, but then it’s a pressure shot. You haven’t shot the ball, you haven’t touched the ball…and you have a wide open shot and you’ve gotta make it.

“That was kind of our problem toward the end of games, I thought,” Bogut said. “Sometimes we relied too much on trying to get Steph and Klay shots.”

Nearly 11 percent of the Warriors’ possessions last season were isolation plays, the third highest rate in the league, per Synergy Sports. Nor were the Warriors efficient on those plays, scoring just .842 points per isolation, which ranked 14th.

The Warriors’ internal analysis was just as damning. By one assessment, the Warriors were among the league leaders in possessions in which the ball never changed sides of the court. And yet the Warriors had their best success in games in which they averaged three to four passes per possession.

These are the numbers that Kerr and his staffled by veterans Alvin Gentry and Ron Adamsare trying to hammer home as they work to change bad habits.

“When we were hitting shots, that’s great,” Lee said of the iso-heavy play. “But when we weren’t hitting outside shots, it seemed to get stagnant. And that’s when we had big lulls offensively. With the firepower we have in the first eight or nine (rotation) guys, we should never have that.”

Kerr’s playbook is a blend of his own NBA experiences: a little of Phil Jackson’s triangle offense, a little of Gregg Popovich’s motion offense and bits of the up-tempo system the Phoenix Suns deployed under Gentry and Mike D’Antoni, when Kerr was the general manager.

The Warriors hope to take advantage of their speed and get easier, earlier shots. When that fails, and it becomes a halfcourt game, Kerr’s prime directive kicks in: Move. The. Ball.

That phrase bounced off the walls of every Warriors practice last week, and is now repeated like a personal mantra, by every member of the organization.

“He wants us to keep that ball moving,” Thompson said, “because we have too many good guys on this team who can go off to just play iso-ball. That’s what we’ve gotta keep improving on.”

It’s an easy case to make, given the personnel. Lee and Bogut are among the best passers at their positions. Ditto for Iguodala, who has often played the role of point-forward in his career. The Warriors are uniquely suited to a ball-movement attack, to become a younger, livelier version of the pass-happy Spurs.

“The idea is: You guys were really good, but lets take the next step,’” Kerr said. “Here’s how we take the next step: We get better ball movement, we get more uncontested shots.”

“Defenses in the NBA are really, really good,” Kerr added. “If you only force them to make one or two reads in a possession, and rotations, it’s not enough. So I want us to force defenses to react four or five times in a possession, because that’s when you’re more likely to get a breakdown on a defense and an open shot as a result.”

That means more cutting, more passing and less standing around while Curry and Thompson take turns launching threes (as successful as that may be). It also means more passes to the postnot necessarily for Lee or Bogut to score, but to force defenses to adjust and to loosen the pressure on Curry and Thompson.

Bogut, whom Kerr called “a brilliant passer” on par with Marc Gasol, was virtually ignored in the Warriors’ offense the last two seasons. Now, he’s a critical hub.

“We know if we don’t have an easy option to the basket, we’ll find open guys,” Bogut said. “I think it’s starting to become contagious with our team.”

Around the Warriors, there is a reticence to draw direct contrasts to Mark Jackson’s approach. After all, they became a playoff team again on his watch, and made huge strides on defense, where they ranked third in points allowed per 100 possessions last season.

Some rival scouts and coaches say the Warriors’ defense was never as elite, or feared, as the analytics suggest. But the Warriors were stout enough that a better offense might have pushed them into the West’s top tier.

Improving their fourth-quarter execution, or bumping up their efficiency rating by even a point or two, might net the Warriors another four or five wins—the difference between a top-four finish (and home-court advantage in the playoffs) and a disadvantageous low seeding.

Even with a flawed offense, and Bogut missing due to injury, the Warriors took the Clippers to seven games last spring, suggesting that, with a few minor improvements and a little good fortune, they might be ready to join the elite.

The rest is up to their rookie coach.

“This team, they know they can be really good,” Kerr said. “I pound that home every day with them.”

 

Howard Beck covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @HowardBeck.

 

 

 

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Andre Iguodala Accepting Sixth-Man Role a Necessity for Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors may be an adjustment away from legitimately contending in the Western Conference. Other than adding free-agent guard Shaun Livingston, the organization is chiefly relying on in-house development to find that elusive next level.

Perhaps new head coach Steve Kerr will make a difference, too—most recently evidenced by his willingness to explore a bench role for 10-year veteran Andre Iguodala

Kerr brought the 30-year-old off the bench for Golden State’s blowout preseason victory against the Los Angeles Lakers, a contest in which Iguodala racked up eight assists and no turnovers. That playmaking ability makes the one-time All-Star a valuable energizer for the second unit, a potential argument for making Iguodala the Warriors’ semi-official sixth man.

It’s a logic that isn’t lost on Kerr.

“I thought Andre was brilliant, and I don’t know that [coming off the bench is] the route we’re going to go, but he solidified that unit, and our lead went up when we subbed in, which was encouraging,” he told reporters after the October game, per Bay Area News Group’s Diamond Leung.

Leung recently noted that, “Kerr likes Iguodala in the point-forward role, especially while the team is missing Shaun Livingston and looking for a ball-handler for when Stephen Curry is not on the court.”

It’s too soon to say whether the new role will stick, but there are a number of reasons why it should.

Golden State’s bench averaged 30.6 points per game last season, which ranked 19th according to HoopsStats.com.

When healthy, Livingston will improve that mark to some degree—but Iguodala would improve it even more.

It’s as much an opportunity for Iguodala as it is the Warriors. The 6’6″ swingman averaged just 9.3 points a season ago, his lowest output since his rookie campaign in 2004-05. The apparent decline was really a function of fewer minutes (32.4 per contest) and fewer shots (7.3 per contest).

Those averages fell far short of career marks at 37 minutes and 11.2 field-goal attempts per game.

Put simply, the Warriors never really took full advantage of the dynamic two-way weapon. He was limited by injury to 63 games and shared playing time with a deep roster including other wing options like Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green.

However, Iguodala was still efficient—making 48 percent of his field-goal attempts and displaying sound, if conservative, shot selection.

This may not be the same player who once scored 19.9 points per game for the Philadelphia 76ers (2007-08), but he’s an offensive threat—a forgotten facilitator who’s averaged 4.9 assists over the course of his career.

Iguodala is the kind of presence who’d make guys like Livingston, Green and Brandon Rush better, a force multiplier who could single-handedly stretch the Warriors’ effectiveness over the course of 48 minutes.

The big question is whether it’s a role he wants to accept.

“It doesn’t matter to me who I’m playing with,” Iguodala told SFGate’s Rusty Simmons this month. “I think I’m going to make anybody better. When I’m out there playing basketball, it’s just ‘let me do me,’ and everybody is going to benefit. I feel confident that whoever I’m out there with is going to win.”

Asked whether he cared about starting, Iguodala responded, “Do I care? I don’t know. That’s a good question. I’m just playing ball. You try not to make a big deal out of it…I’m trying not to make it a story this year, and I’m trying to win a championship.”

But the interview’s most revealing excerpt suggests that Iguodala understands—and perhaps accepts—his value with the second unit.

“You don’t have the same two-guard setup with Steph [Curry] and Klay [Thompson], with Steph’s ability to handle the ball, create and shoot and Klay’s ability to just flat-out period shoot the ball,” he added. “So the ball is in my hands a little more. I’m setting up and doing a few more things.” 

That sounds like a step in the right direction on the heels of a season when Iguodala could almost certainly have done more things.

So the idea of Iguodala serving sixth-man duty seems like a win-win situation. Manu Ginobili does it for the San Antonio Spurs. Jamal Crawford does it for the Los Angeles Clippers. Reggie Jackson has done it for the Oklahoma City Thunder

Elite teams typically have strong bench leadership. The Warriors should be no different.

Hopefully the new coach sees it that way.

According to Leung, Kerr described starting spots for Curry, Thompson, David Lee and Andrew Bogut as being “automatic” this season.

He was less certain about Iguodala’s fate.

“Andre started last year, which he probably will [again], but there’s a lot of options that we have because we’ve got really good players in Harrison and Draymond,” Kerr said at the time. “But most of it usually comes down to how the combination fits…How do the pieces of the puzzle fit?”

There’s one more piece to that puzzle.

Barnes—a two-year veteran who started all 81 of his rookie games—only started 24 games a season ago, functionally forfeiting his spot to Iguodala. Despite a minutes increase from that rookie season, Barnes made just 39.9 percent of his field-goal attempts—down somewhat significantly from the 43.9 percent he made in 2012-13.

It wasn’t a disastrous step back, but nor was it the kind of progress one might have expected from the former No. 7 overall pick.

The franchise has high hopes for the 22-year-old. Ensuring him ample playing time may remain a challenge, but a starting job may be a needed confidence boost. Building up the youngster’s psyche could be critical to his evolution.

Just one more reason to consider shaking up this starting five. 

Kerr may be reluctant to institute significant changes in light of the other adjustments his roster’s making—namely to a new coaching staff and system. Stability can be a good thing, particularly for a team coming off of a 51-win season.

But there’s still room for the Warriors to grow—and at least one lineup tweak that could help them do it.

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Warriors blitz Lakers early in 116-75 rout (Yahoo Sports)

ONTARIO, CA - OCTOBER 12: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball against Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors on October 12, 2014 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

ONTARIO, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry scored 12 of his 25 points in the first 2 1/2 minutes, helping the Golden State Warriors get off to a fast start and beat the banged-up Los Angeles Lakers 116-75 in a preseason game Sunday night.


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