The Warriors’ Struggles Define Insanity


The Golden State Warriors’ struggles continue.

They are 2-8 in their last 10 games and have just been eliminated from the first-ever In-Season Tournament after a heartbreaking loss in Sacramento Tuesday night.

The issues they were dealing with earlier in this stretch have become more than trends. Anyone who consistently watches this team knows changes need to be made. It’s a drastic time in the season right now, and that calls for drastic measures. There have been several alarming quotes and reports recently from Golden State, including this exchange between Klay Thompson and The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami.

Thompson can scoff at the idea of caring about what people say, but the body language is as clear as ever. He is bothered by the chatter around his struggles. His season so far is a microcosm of what’s going on with the entire team. The league seems to be moving in a direction that the Warriors can’t keep up with, even though Steph is still at his peak.

The Veteran Favoritism Has to End

In their final In-Season Tournament game, they saw a 24-point lead dwindle down slowly but surely.

It led to another excruciating loss, similar to the game against the Thunder. Moses Moody started the night out of the rotation. Moody especially has been getting the short end of the stick for more than a season now.

It’s getting to the point where the Warriors are losing games because of his lack of time. He played for 13 minutes, but provided major impact on both ends of the floor. This scenario has played out throughout the season more than enough times.

They keep ending up with the same result.

He had a shooting match with Sasha Vezenkov in the fourth quarter, and was 4/4 with 11 points. Moody hit a three-pointer with 4:55 left in the game.

He was taken out 30 seconds later.

Kerr left the veteran closing lineup on the floor. All of the players made mistakes that cost them the game. Stephen Curry and Draymond Green committed crucial turnovers late in the game. Curry has 11 turnovers combined the last two games. Kevon Looney missed two free throws that were proven to be costly.

We have heard this exact answer from Kerr multiple times already this season. It has always been some form of “Moody was great, but decided to give minutes to our veterans”. These are veterans that have been mostly mediocre for 75% of the season so far.

This coddling that Kerr is doing with his veteran players is hurting the team, but also understandable. It’s not easy to tell Klay Thompson that he needs to play less to help the team. It’s hard to take Kevon Looney out of the closing lineup to leave Moody in to close against the Kings. Looney was one of the main reasons the Warriors beat the Kings in the playoffs.

But this is a different team (in terms of the roster), and they should be handled differently. As leaders of the team, they should be setting the standard of unselfishness and willingness to win.

The Klay Conversation

It’s pretty clear that Klay Thompson has officially entered a different phase of his career.

The numbers and film don’t lie. He currently has his worst net rating of his career outside of his rookie season at -1.8. In the game against Phoenix last week, he was a -24. He shot very well to start the game, but the 33-year-old isn’t doing much outside of making shots. Plus, he’s shooting 40.4% from the field.

According to Cleaning the Glass, Thompson’s PSA (points per shot attempt) is significantly worse. For total points per 100 shot attempts for wings (mostly playing shooting guard or small forward), Thompson ranks in the 31th percentile with 108.1. In 2021-22, he ranked in the 39th percentile at 109.4. Last year, he ranked in the 57th percentile with 115.5. He also led the league in made three-pointers last year. There are more efficiently-scoring wings across the league compared to just five years ago, where he was in the 89th percentile.

It seems he can only guard bigger forwards now. Most of his matchups frequently get by him on straight-line drives. Part of defense is just being aware and locked in, especially if you have a physical disadvantage as a defender. After the injuries, the lateral quickness isn’t there, and he has never been a great team defender. Kerr has to consider that he guards fours a lot more often now, and that changes the equation for his rotations.

He is taking shots that he used to be able to knock down before his injuries. It’s a sign that he’s trying to prove that version of himself still exists, and it’s hurting the team.

He had a really good first half against the Kings with 17 points. It didn’t continue in the second half, yet Kerr still decided to keep him in the game. Thompson ended with 20 for the game. His defense and carelessness didn’t help the team either.

Kerr’s Coaching is Outdated

Kerr has shown that he is the type of coach that lets his players figure out and fix problems throughout a game.

He is not like Erik Spoelstra or Nick Nurse, whose gameplans varies depending on the opponent. He is not like the up-and-coming coaches like Mark Daigneault or Will Hardy, who bring energy and urgency into every game. Kerr believes in the same offensive principles that have helped create four titles in six Finals appearances.

But the problem is these ideas and revolving around the motion offense doesn’t work with their roster anymore.

Even though Stephen Curry is still at the peak of his powers, Klay and Draymond Green are in another point in their careers. They have Chris Paul in his final years as an NBA player. Jonathan Kuminga is still a raw talent, but he is crucial in determining their ceiling for the season.

There must be another approach that he can pull out when his normal ways of coaching aren’t getting wins. The days of having a roster of veterans with high basketball IQ mixed with elite talent are gone. Coaching Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga is different than coaching Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.

Hoping Kerr would trust the young guys more is probably a fool’s errand. His bigger-picture outlook on a season can make a stretch look worse than it is.

But it doesn’t change that this approach has lost them a few games already.

When does Dunleavy get involved?

There are clearly players on the roster that are not being utilized well, and it’s due in part because Kerr is loyal to his guys.

It’s a fair explanation, and it’s easy to understand why it’s so difficult for Kerr to change his waysβ€” it’s always worked. But when the team’s veteran lineup is getting outplayed by the young bench unit, there has to be a line drawn. The Warriors don’t have a bad roster, it’s just different than what they’re used to.

But if the season continues in this direction β€” where the frustration grows and fingers start to be pointed β€” does the first-year GM make drastic moves? He’s said all the right things about keeping the core together, but he also said he planned to keep Jordan Poole. He has already made an unexpected trade. There is already living proof he is not afraid of being aggressive.

Bob Myers’ early goodbye to the organization may have been perfectly calculated.

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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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