The Road Warriors are Back


Last season, the Golden State Warriors started 0-8 on the road.

This season, finished their first week with three-straight road wins, and the difference from last year is already apparent. The first road trip of the season consisted of hard-fought wins, including an impressive win in New Orleans without Klay Thompson or Jonathan Kuminga. It’s hard not to be worse than an 11-30 road record, but the wins so far have been very encouraging.

The Positives

The Youth Showing Out

As mentioned in our season preview article, the team looked deep in the preseason, and the depth has shown early. Trayce Jackson-Davis and Brandin Podziemski made solid impacts against the Pelicans with Thompson and Kuminga not playing. Jackson-Davis, or “Baby T” coined by the vets, was everywhere on Monday night. He was active on the boards, finished around the rim, and was a vertical threat that opened up the floor for the guards.

Podziemski’s first NBA bucket was a self-created basket off a sweet behind-the-back move to put Jordan Hawkins on his bottom. He was moving the ball well, making good decisions, and both him and TJD didn’t look like rookies on the floor.

The wing tandem of Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga have been consistently flashing winning basketball. Moody so far is shooting 41.2% from three and Kuminga was put in the first three games to close over Andrew Wiggins (who we’ll talk about later).

Moreover, Kuminga’s aggression on the glass and his willingness to be tough and physical on defense has earned him Steve Kerr‘s trust. The Warriors’ ceiling raises as these two continue to grow throughout the season.

The Vets are All Back

Draymond Green returned from his ankle injury on Sunday against the Rockets.

He’s still on a minutes restriction as he’s practically going through his personal preseason, but that’s not an issue. With Dario Saric, Kuminga and Jackson-Davis all being solid options at the four or five, Green can take his time. Through three games, it seems like Green is his same old self. He’s out there communicating and affecting the defense in a positive way.

In another three to five games, Green should be all the way back from the injury.

After a rough first game, Klay Thompson put together two-straight solid nights against Sacramento and Houston. During the preseason and the season opener against Phoenix, Thompson didn’t look too comfortable. He was forcing shots and trying to create a little too much off the dribble. Thompson is at his best when he’s taking the shots that the offense naturally creates for him.

One important sequence came against Sacramento, when he passed off an open three to get Kuminga a great look at a corner three.

Chris Paul has already fit so seamlessly in the first five games. So far, Paul has 41 assists and only six turnovers.

He’s doing exactly what the team envisioned him doing when they acquired him in June. He came off the bench for the first time in his 19 NBA seasons, and so far the Warriors are a +51 in his minutes. He’s leading the second unit well, and has caused that unit to look better than the starters in certain stints.

And then there’s Stephen Curry. We have run out of adjectives and superlatives to describe the superstar. He’s already delivered some unbelievable shots and highlights in the early season, including this ridiculous flurry of moves on Dillon Brooks that made the social-media circuit on Sunday night.

Curry then followed that up with a 42-point masterclass against the Pelicans. The 35-year-old looks to still be at the top of his game in the early season. He’s averaging 31.0 points per game on 54.3% from the field and 45.9% from three. The degree of difficulty on Curry’s shots will always be high, yet he’ll always make them look normal.

The Negatives

There is never too much to complain about when you start the season 4-1 with three-straight road wins, but the Warriors definitely haven’t been close to perfect.

Their first win in Sacramento should have ended without stress, but several turnovers caused them to have to execute a high-pressured SLOB (sideline out of bounds play) to get a Curry three.

The Warriors were cruising to a win in Houston, but they took their foot off the gas and allowed the Rockets to take the lead in the fourth quarter. It took a heroic Curry quarter to get out of there with a win. The loss against Phoenix on opening night was mostly due to allowing offensive rebounds and losing on 50/50 balls.

These nights will show up again during an 82-game season, so it should only be concerning if it becomes a trend. Last year’s team lost plenty of games due to self-inflicted errors.

What’s Up with Wiggins?

The most alarming thing so far has been the play of Andrew Wiggins.

The 28-year-old is averaging 11.4 points and 2.2 rebounds per game while shooting 43.4% from the field and 16.7% from three. He also had no stat other than points in the win against Houston.

For someone who was the second-most important in the Finals against the Celtics — and after only playing 37 games despite being healthy — his effort and attention to detail is lacking. Like most NBA players, Wiggins can go through stretches of lackluster effort. The season is long and the physical demand can be too much at time. But it is the beginning of the season, so the physicality and energy should be at its highest.

It shouldn’t be a long-term problem, but he’ll continue to not close games if this is how he plays. The Athletic’s Anthony Slater posted a quote from Wiggins about not closing games. Wiggins is supposed to be the mainstay in the starting and closing lineup. His defense and versatility on offense is important to connecting the other four players.

The Early Test Continues

The Warriors continue their road test with four games in six days. They play the Thunder, Cavaliers, Pistons, and close it off against the defending-champion Nuggets on Nov. 8. After that trip, they get six-straight home games, including their first In-Season Tournament game against the Timberwolves on Nov. 14.

If they can continue the road success in the upcoming trip, they’ll be running with a lot of momentum.

Golden State Warriors Overalls!

Show your team spirit in these stylish and comfortable Golden State Warriors Men’s Team Stripe Bib Overalls. With their all-over team-colored design and bold team logo display, these overalls are the perfect way to show your support for the Golden State Warriors while stand out among the thousands in attendance and reminding everyone you’re a frontrunner for fan fashion MVP honors.

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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