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Best Shooter of the Day champions belt, a Treatment for a Sitcom
[and other topics heading into OKC; free article]
This is your Golden State Warriors topics update heading into pregame at the OKC Thunder. Keep in mind, all of these “notes and quotes” are posted much sooner than on this website, over on our private Discord server available for free to our paid subscribers ($5/mo or $50/yr). Obligatory button:
Furthermore, all the video versions of these notes and quotes are already on the YouTube channel at https://youtube.com/LetsGoWarriors.
Also, I still haven’t gotten around to doing the inventory for the Klay Celebration Giveaway. The first winner hasn’t emailed me back (Mai Pao Pao, you there?) and the second winner isn’t back in the country until mid-February, so I do appear to have bought some more time and I hope to get the pictures of all the prizes sooner than later, like definitely no later than the All-Star Break, let’s say. In the meantime, still trying to find a rhythm, as I’d like for each of these posts not to always take one or two hours.
And I still have the macro version of where the team is heading into the trade deadline (February 10th), with 32,000-foot views brought to you by Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green and Bob Myers on deck. I imagine that will post by tomorrow, although the video versions of the first two are already on the channel, with Myers in tow, hopefully after I’m done with this post.
But first, the most recent set of media availabilities, held at Chase Center’s ninth floor “Sky Bar” after the Warriors had practice on Saturday, starting with the Best Shooter of the Day belt.
Benevolence, Stephortless: Same difference
When Chase has a concert, to ensure media doesn’t disrupt the craziness of the setup crew for the concert, the availabilities are held there. It’s actually takes a few steps to get there, as you have to ride the elevator up nine floors, then walk down a long hallway before you’re there. Here’s a video I did awhile back:
Steve Kerr and Damion Lee took the podium, with a fun little interruption by “Shooter of the Day” Juan Toscano-Anderson. Here’s the exchange (you can’t script this!):
Kerr, answering a question about the roster, about fifteen minutes in: “…Bob is always looking for ways to improve the team — (looks at someone coming in) well, we got the best shooter of the day in Juan Toscano-Anderson. There’s his belt.”
Juan comes in with the belt held high above his head, approaches the interview table, daps up Steve and insists that he repeat “Best Shooter of the Day”, to which Kerr obliges. JTA heads back out, apparently having made the walk through the Sky Bar hallway and the non-insignificant elevator ride of nine floors for the sole purpose of gloating to the media, perhaps knowing his “Evil Twin” (i.e., closest teammate on the squad) Lee will soon take the podium: “You heard that, Steph?! You heard that, Klay?!”
Kerr, knowing full well that neither Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson are within ear shot to defend against Juan’s boasts: “Good luck tomorrow, by the way.”
Kerr then goes on to finish the thought on the roster, when Lee walks in from the hallway, now carrying the belt. Steve is a bit startled: “Wait, you got the belt too?”
With Lee waiting for his turn at the podium, Steve answers one more question on Kevon Looney (in the same context of the roster question), then asks Damion: “Did you steal the belt?”
Damion: “There was a dispute. I just decided to take it for the time being.” As Kee saunters out, Lee approaches the chair and explains, “I know a guy,” and sits down for his Q&A.
Later, Chris Alvarez of ABC7 News Bay Area decides to get the scoop on the belt.
Alvarez: “Can we talk a little more about the belt?”
Lee: “Yeah, Warriors logo (shows off belt which is now sitting on the table in plain view). Just us. Got the Town, you know, represent…if you win the day you get the belt. I didn’t win the day, but I got the belt. I know some people. Steph won the day. And Juan won the second one so Steph graciously gave the belt to Juan, but it’s one of them days. If you win the belt you get to keep it. I just got the chance to showcase it.”
Marcus Thompson of The Athletic: “Is this for shooting or (having the) best practice or what?”
Lee: “Shooting. Shooting competition. Um, yeah. Y’all not gonna get all the answers from me (smiles). I ain’t got ‘em.” As I’ve said many times on our game commentary livestreams, NBA players are loathe to give out details of private competitions so as to avoid ending up throwing anybody under the bus.
Thompson: “Hold on, this is a second-place belt today?”
Thompson: “It was Juan then, he bequeathed the belt?”
Lee: “No, no, no. Steph won. There were two competitions, so that meant there were two winners but there’s only one belt. We can’t break the belt in half. We don’t have like a silver belt.”
Thompson: “I thought you said he gave it to the second place winner out of benevolence and grace.”
Lee: “Nah, you said ‘Stephortless’?”
Lee: “Oh, benevolence. Essence. Okay. We’re using SAT words in the media…”
Thompson: “Juan came in here as if there were no other winner.”
Lee: “Fo’ sure. He turnt up. He made sure that the Town was seen as soon as he came in. He was locked in.”
Here are some more topics covered by Kerr and Lee…
Injury Updates (Andre/Otto/Beli/James)
Kerr - How are Otto and Beli doing, are they gonna be traveling? “Otto practiced today and Beli did not. They’re both doing a lot better. Beli did an individual workout today and he’ll ramp it up next couple of days. He will not play on the trip and I’m not sure if he’s going on the trip or if he’ll stay here yet. Otto is day to day but he said he felt pretty good today so he’s possible Monday.”
Kerr - Was Andre able to practice? “Yeah Andre practiced (fully). He’ll go on the trip, hopefully play on Monday.”
Kerr - Have you seen anything that is encouraging with Wiseman so far over the last week? “Yeah, yeah, he practiced today and looked great. We didn’t have any contact but he practiced with the guys. He picked up everything really quickly. This being James’s second season, he’s got a foundation of knowledge…all the stuff we did today he was really quick to pick it up, he looked really good, he was happy to be out there, we were thrilled to have him.”
Roster with the trade deadline looming
Kerr - Do you have enough on this roster? “Yeah, yeah. We feel really good about our roster, optimistic about what’s ahead but humble enough to understand there’s a lot of other great teams out there. It’s gonna be hard no matter what. Bob is always looking for ways to improve the team.”
Kerr - Does that include Wiseman being healthy? “Umm, it’s hard to determine anything with James just because the process has been slow. There’s a chance that he could be playing come playoff time. We don’t really know what to expect.”
Kerr - Do you feel you have enough size on this team? “Looney has done a great job at center and if Draymond’s healthy, Draymond’s gonna play a bunch of minutes at center. There’s only a couple of big centers that you really have to worry about in this league, so yeah I think we have enough.”
On being 40-13, on pace to win 62 games
Kerr - Did you see things going as well as they have at 40-13? “I wouldn’t have predicted 40-13 but I did feel going into the season that we were going to be really good, based on how we finished last year, based on Klay coming back, based on Jordan’s progression last year, Andrew’s development within the style of play…we had no idea what our record might be…the way the young players have fit so nicely…their own development not harming the bigger picture of wins and losses…those guys have helped us win games, kind of the best case scenario to this point, but we all know that things change at the drop of a hat in the NBA. So we have to stay vigilant and keep working and can’t take anything for granted.”
Kerr - How remarkable is it with Dray and Andre and James out? “…we got off to an 18-2 start, best defense through that spell. The new additions, Otto, Beli, the new rookies, Andre coming back. It felt like during that span we cemented our identity. Once you have a foundation and identity then it’s easier to withstand the ups and downs of injuries and adversity of any kind…first six weeks…setting the table…much deeper level of confidence…”
Kerr - Does the record allow you to experiment more on how you use guys? “A little bit. It’s not really a conscious thing where we’re really saying we can do this, we can do that. It’s more a comfort level day to day…we know we’re in good shape mentally, spiritually…very quick to try something different…good vibe and we’ve tried a lot of different lineup combinations that continue to work…talented deep roster and a good foundation that we’ve established in the first month.”
Lee - Did you see a 40-13 success (62-win pace) coming, what’s behind that success? “(Chuckles) You just blew my mind. You said 62-win pace? Yeah, I don’t even keep up with — the only pace I try to keep up with is offensive and defensive pace…guys bought in. Guys understand what their role is and you try to maximize what you do in your role…in professional sports there’s a pecking order. There’s a reason guys get paid $40-50 million. There’s a reason guys get paid the minimum. Whatever that is, 1 through 15, NFL 1 through 52, you fall in line…you don’t have to do something extra just because someone’s out. You do what you’re role is. You do what you’re supposed to do…everything should come together for the greater good of the team…try to make a deep run…if you look at teams that have done that, everyone’s bought into that role. You don’t have to stress on Klay, Steph, Wiggs taking twenty shots. That’s in the pecking order…when guys miss games, you step up by continuing to do your role every single night.”
Lee - Are you pleasantly surprised by the results given all the injuries? “I wouldn’t say I’m surprised but I wouldn’t — I don’t know how to say it, not being cocky — I wouldn’t say I’m surprised because the system has shown success and guys have bought into the system. That’s kind of a round-about way, beat around the bush to the answer…”
Kerr - How do you manage Kuminga’s array of talent and do you talk to him about the volatility of a rookie season? “Yeah I think that’s his biggest challenge is dealing with the ups and downs because he’s had plenty of both. He’s so raw and talented that the sky’s the limit but because of his lack of experience, he’s going to make mistakes. We just try to tell him it’s fine to make mistakes. That’s to be expected. Nobody could possibly come into the league at this age and pickup everything right away. He’s done a great job of becoming more and more open and communicative. He’s getting better and better, you can feel it. His good games come now frequently but there are still gonna be lows, that’s all part of being a rookie and we just have to keep his spirits up because when things go badly for him he gets a little down. Just gotta help him keep his spirit, his energy.”
Kerr - Is JK about normal as far as how fast he picks it up and deals with it? “Every player is different in that regard and some of it is just how much experience he has. A guy who plays four years of college ball is gonna come in way more prepared. Davion Mitchell the other night, for example, Chris Duarte a couple weeks ago. Guys who are older and have played longer, they have a huge advantage. So you got a guy like JK who really hasn’t played much. It’s gonna take him some time just like it takes everybody time. The ceiling is so incredibly high because of that amazing explosion and athleticism and power. We see it in glimpses and it’s exciting. We’re gonna keep working with him every day…”
Kerr - Is JK’s footwork more advanced? “He’s really an interesting player because he’s got really good footwork down on the block. We’ve seen a couple step-throughs and drop-steps and he’s so powerful and he jumps so high. All he needs is a tiny bit of an angle and he can score easily. He’s had some plays in transition, crossover dribbles, inside-out dribbles where he’s gone right around his guy. So I feel like he’s had a lot of skill work in his growth…what he’s missing is more game experience and more NBA knowledge which is great because the foundation of your game has to be footwork and your fundamentals. He’s pretty good with that stuff. His shot is really clean, he’s got good form, good balance. As he gains more NBA knowledge I think he’s just gonna get better and better.” It’s an odd pairing (with Moody? Inaudible)? “Yeah it is (nods).”
Andrew Wiggins in the context of Klay
Kerr - Nudging Wiggs to still be aggressive: “A lot of us told him that. I told him that when we scrimmaged in Denver, when we had our game postponed and we had our first scrimmage with Klay, it was the first thing I told Andrew. I said don’t defer to Klay because Klay’s gonna find his own shot. You don’t ever have to worry about Klay. But we need your aggressiveness…I know Andre and Steph have reiterated that message to Andrew. I thought there were maybe two games early on when Klay came back and it felt like Andrew was trying to figure it out a little bit and it didn’t take long…really love the combination of Andrew, Steph and Klay as starters…plenty of shots to go around. The more aggressive Andrew is, the better team we are.”
Stephen Curry’s character
Kerr - (Cal women’s standout) Jayda Curry (no relation) said that moment meeting Steph completed her life: “Steph does stuff like that every day…a self awareness that’s really powerful and beautiful to see. Last week when we were in San Antonio, he missed the game and I got on the bus at whatever time, 5:30, to head to the game. Because he was not playing, he got on that bus. Normally he would go earlier. He came out at 5:20 and he signed every autograph, probably 40 people on the curb across the street and he came out early, signed every autograph, got on the bus and went over to the arena. That night at the game, Steph knew there were a bunch of people, parents with their kids wearing Curry jerseys who had bought tickets to see him play. He’s aware of that. He understands that there was probably a lot of disappointment for those people who had saved up their money to buy tickets. What did he do? He went over there, interacted with people, he signed autographs, he talked to kids and it completely made a difference in terms of the experience of all those people who came to see him…his power and his ability to do good, to make people feel happy, to just make a difference is one of my favorite dynamics.”
Kerr - How unusual is this? “It’s unusual for a superstar like Steph. Lots of players are aware that they can use their presence to make people feel good and that’s something that makes them feel good in turn, but for a superstar who is just hounded. Every second on every day is just filled with one thing after the next, it can be exhausting. That’s pretty rare. I’ve seen Steph, we’ll arrive at a hotel in a city at two o’clock in the morning. People out there, I see him, he goes over and signs autographs all the time in those circumstances. It’s pretty unique.”