Connectivity is the Theme of the 2023-24 Warriors


The Warriors got through media day and have begun the 2023 preseason.

One of the most eventful offseasons in their recent memory is now behind them. The 2016 and 2019 offseasons are the other two notable ones that really affected their success during this eight-year run, but 2023 is certainly up there. The drama of the Jordan PooleChris Paul trade and the Draymond Green extension are completed, and the team came strong with week with a business-like attitude.

Righting Their Wrongs

The word “connectivity” has been circling around every press conference and interview by Mike Dunleavy, Steve Kerr and the players.

“Connectivity, I want to say, is the word” was Gary Payton II’s answer to a question that he was asked about the general “vibe” entering this year’s training camp. The reporter jokingly asked Payton if everyone was paid to say that word.

In Dunleavy and Kerr’s press conference before media day, they talked about how connected the veterans were during the offseason. It feels like “connectivity” has become everyone’s default thought whenever they are asked about what the team is trying to fix for this season. What they thought would be a subtle way to insinuate about the team’s lack of chemistry last year has become a tired-out phrase already.

However you feel about this newly found term, it does show that they knew what the problem was last year. This era of the Warriors does not have time to waste a season the way they did last year. The loss to the Lakers in the second round of the playoffs seemed to spark a new attitude in everyone. With a new season on the horizon, however, there will be new challenges and struggles to overcome.

There are plenty of questions and storylines that surround the team entering a critical season.

How will Chris Paul fit in?

Ever since the trade went down back in June, there have been plenty of questions surrounding this move.

Even as one of the greatest point guards in NBA history, there’s still a learning curve to get acclimated to Warriors basketball. The biggest question the organization had to answer was how was Paul going to fit in the rotation? Is he going to start or come off the bench? Does this also mean he will be closing games? Well he quickly put all of the outside debates to rest on media day.

“For the season, it’s gonna be whatever to help our team win.” One could probably hear the collective sigh of relief throughout the organization after that answer.

This was the response that fans and everyone around the team was hoping to hear. They probably would have all liked to have heard it earlier in the summer, but there’s no room for complaining now.

Chris Paul is bought in. After the first day of training camp, him and Curry were seen to be working on some offensive sets together. The cuts and motion that they were running were all things Curry does in their offense. There is an effort to get on the same page for the two guards, and that bodes well for the season.

Will he start?

Coach Kerr mentioned he believes he has six starters. Since Draymond Green is dealing with an ankle sprain, Paul is going to start alongside Curry, Thompson, Wiggins and Looney in the preseason.

Kerr and his coaching staff have a lot of the rotation to figure out, and missing Draymond doesn’t help. The team will be testing out many combinations throughout training camp and the preseason. Figuring out the best five-man unit during the season will be interesting because it will be an ongoing conversation. There will be plenty of matchups where it makes sense to finish small with Paul in there and Green at center. There will also be times where Looney is irreplaceable, and will have to finish games.

However, the most intriguing situations will be where Green won’t be out there to close games. He did come off the bench in Games 3 through 6 in their first-round matchup against Sacramento. Him coming off the bench sparked an 0-2 comeback in the series. The lineup will not always be consistent, but what should be consistent is the commitment to winning.

Two Important Contract Decisions

Fortunately, nothing from their press conferences caused concern about this question. Kerr, who was brought in as a first-time head coach in 2014, expects to stay coaching the Warriors long-term.

Kerr is not the type to make his contract situation a big deal. Furthermore, he probably feels very confident in the organization’s direction, especially after they extended Draymond Green to match Stephen Curry‘s current contract. It’s getting more apparent with each decision they make that they want to ride with the core trio plus Kerr until they’re ready to call it quits. Gregg Popovich and Monty Williams both received top-dollar contracts from the Spurs and Pistons, respectively.

It would not be a surprise if Kerr received a contract that matches yearly salaries with those two. The years on that contract would most likely also match Curry’s contract to keep the group secure.

Should Klay Thompson be worried about his contract?

The same should be expected for Klay Thompson, who usually gives a quirky quote or two in these types of interviews. Instead, he was very serious on media day. Thompson was not normally himself during his press conference. He looked a little uncomfortable, like he was begging to be done with it as soon as he sat down. However, he did give a positive answer about his potential contract extension.

The uncertainty of what is most likely his last big-money contract in the NBA has to be weighing on his mind. Thankfully, Thompson had his most complete offseason since before his serious injuries in 2019 and 2020. Compared to last offseason, he got over the mental hurdle of playing lots of pickup games.

A critical reason on why Thompson was out of shape to start last season was because he was doing mostly solo workouts and not playing actual games. It’s a great sign to see him determined and more importantly, the healthiest he’s been in the last four years.

Thompson had his best statistical season last year, especially when Curry missed time. He fizzled out in the playoffs, but a motivated Klay Thompson is the best there is. Combine that, his health, and that he is in a contract year, and you have a bounce-back season in the making.

Who will earn the 14th roster spot?

A couple of weeks ago, the Warriors flirted with signing Dwight Howard.

After a couple of workouts and meeting with Kerr and Dunleavy, they decided not to go through with it. Instead, they signed Usman Garuba to a two-way contract and Rudy Gay to a training-camp deal. Gay even had his own press conference. None of the other training camp signees, Rodney McGruder, Javan Johnson or Kendric Davis were asked to speak on the podium. There are multiple reasons why Gay is most likely the favorite to get that last spot.

Firstly, he’s a veteran. This upcoming season will be his 18th year in the NBA. He has had experience with all kinds of teams, yet he has not come close to winning a championship. He played in FIBA with Steph and Klay in 2010 and 2014, and he has been friends with Chris Paul for a good amount of his career now. The Warriors are not being subtle with how they’re trying to build their team.

Secondly, they want to recreate the 2022 team, and Gay fits the Otto Porter Jr. mold. The other players that are competing for that spot are all guards. They have already compared Dario Šarić to Nemanja Bjelica, so it makes sense why they would choose Gay over a more traditional center like Howard. Gay fits what the Warriors are searching for: a veteran with tons of experience that will play any role in order to win. GP2 was signed as the 14th roster spot before the championship season, and ended up playing a critical role throughout that year.

Who will be their X-Factor?

The easiest and most obvious answer is most Chris Paul.

He was the centerpiece of a timeline-shifting trade. He will be playing a good chunk of important minutes throughout the season, and he provides a different perspective and pace of play for the team. Another candidate could be Andrew Wiggins, who only played 37 games last season due to a personal issue. Wiggins came back right when the playoffs started, and was never able to gain meaningful momentum.

After hearing the team talk at media day, it’s clear that the X-factor for the Warriors this season is Jonathan Kuminga. The coaching staff believe that the Chris Paul addition will directly benefit Kuminga’s growth and success.

As being one of the only superb athletes on the team combined with his size, he’ll be asked to do a lot in his third year in the league. But, that just means he will have the opportunities he was not able to consistently earn in his first two years. It will be of utmost importance that Kuminga does what the team needs from him, which is to “play with force”, as Kerr loves to mention whenever the Warriors lose a game due to lackadaisical play.

The Warriors also do not really have a backup four. If they end up signing Rudy Gay for the season, he could be that guy, but the spot is realistically there for Kuminga’s taking. The young forward has talked about what he needs to be better at: rebounding, running the floor hard, making the right decisions. He’ll have plenty of minutes to prove his worth. It’s up to the organization to instill that confidence in him to go out there and do it.

The Marathon Begins

The Warriors are clearly a veteran team.

They put all their chips in to acquire a point guard who will be 39 years old by the second round of the playoffs in 2024. The quest to earn the team’s fifth championship in 10 seasons will definitely be arduous. However, it seems as though everyone is locked in and ready to go. The most pressing issue is figuring out how to stay healthy and locked in over the course of 82 games. As a much-older roster with the new NBA rest rules, they will have to figure out a way to keep their core players fresh.

The bottom line is that as long as they have their trusted core, and the rest of the team is bought in, they should have a shot at winning it all.

About Christian Oblena

Born in San Francisco, raised in the East Bay, lifelong Bay Area sports fan. Here to give my own opinions on everything Dubs.

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