BIOFREEZE PERFORMANCE CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Trying something new here. Giving a mostly chronological report of what happened today on the Golden State Warriors beat, which pretty much amounts to a diary of sorts. Hopefully I can keep this up, as I’m still running on adrenaline from Launch Day yesterday and I wound up writing a ton (again). By the way, all of the following can basically be inferred from the footage I always put up from on-the-scene on our YouTube channel, Instagram account and Twitter. Sometimes I put bonus footage on the YouTube, but you have to use their mobile app and check the Stories on there (it’s a copy of IG stories).
There are a lot of topics to cover, so I’m threading this post and feel free to fire away in the comments. I’m still getting my arms around Substack, so just remember you might need to go to the first email you get and click on the “Mute Thread” link in it, if non-urgent email pings on your phone bother you.
Currently as I understand it, all Substack threads are available to the public and anyone who registers a login on this platform can comment — this might change to be “subscriber only” in the future. Let me know if you feel strongly one way or another. I totally don’t mind if subscribers are like, “Hey, there’s some exclusive-type stuff found in here not found anywhere else. As a subscriber, I’m paying actual money and should be entitled to it and the general public should not.”
DRAYMOND SKILLS SESSION WITH “Q”
Draymond Green was on the near court next to the microphone box, so I noticed him first upon being let in to practice (day before Indiana Pacers). He was working, as usual, with Bruce Fraser aka “Q”. Green is trying to expand his repertoire. Recently I’ve noticed him doing drills with Q on step-back jumpers. At the pregame versus the Utah Jazz, for the first time, I saw him do what I used to call the “Karate Kid” drill. You might remember Kevin Durant doing that one a lot in pregame routines the last couple years. Stephen Curry also did those. They’re the ones where you stand on one leg and shoot a free throw. It’s supposed to improve your balance and focus. KD would also do that with a spin. Draymond is still far from that “black belt” level. Give him time. We’re talking about a power forward doing these elite things to add to his “bag”.
I was uploading or processing video on both of my phones when Draymond did the Karate Kids, so I’ll try my best to remember to film it during the Pacers pregame. If you want to see Green doing stepback drills, Google “youtube.com letsgowarriors draymond stepback” and I’m confident you’ll find it there, because right now our YouTube channel is a mess and I haven’t had time to do playlists and make it easier for fans to find stuff.
As a general rule, to find a particular video on our site, which dates back to around 2016 (I think, which is why we didn’t have any supporting a Q&A video for Eric Apricot’s “Klay 37” piece), all you have to do is Google “youtube.com letsgowarriors” and then your search keywords.
On the near court was Damion Lee splashing, Willie Cauley-Stein shooting short jumpers and dribbling, and on the far court, D’Angelo Russell doing his workout of threes and coming off high pick-and-rolls.
KLAY x JORDAN POOLE
On the far middle court was Jordan Poole and Chris DeMarco, but then Klay Thompson showed up, took a couple shots and little “bunny” flicks from under the rim, then basically conceded the court to Poole and passed him the ball. They spoke a little bit and it looked like it was basketball-related, so put a check mark next to the “mentorship” box on that one.
During this time, head coach Steve Kerr arrived and got asked about the challenges of coaching a young team and he said something really interesting. He said that it was fun for him to figure out on an individual basis which players respond to encouragement or which need admonishment at any given time.
Steve’s never been a “one-size-fits-all” type of guy and that was some clear evidence right there. It’s almost like he tailors every players’ NBA experience to get the maximum out of everyone.
JAKE TO THE G LEAGUE
The topic of Jacob Evans came up and Kerr announced they’d be sending him to the Santa Cruz Warriors for a stint this weekend, then travel with the team on the East Coast road trip, which starts at the Philadelphia 76ers next Tuesday.
I’m truly hoping you guys are more intelligent than YouTube commenters because a couple guys were ripping on Evans in the video above. As you hopefully remember, the Warriors would be foolish to waive Evans, as his salary wouldn’t come off the books. That doesn’t help the hard cap situation. He’s also not tradable in terms of teams desiring his services, so what else can Bob Myers do to increase the value of the Evans asset? Send him to G League!
And so a fanatic will get upset whenever the name “Jacob Evans” is mentioned, while an erudite GSW follower with insider access like yourself will just shrug and realize it’s all part of the process, a fringe player will have his ups and downs, so let’s make the most of it.
SMILEY ISN’T ABOUT ROSTER SPOTS
The reporters seemed done with their questions so I popped one in on behalf of you guys because I saw some of you in the Jazz Game Thread whining (😜) about Alen Smailagic not being called up when the Warriors played so lackluster and had a couple roster spots open — ten players were available against Utah.
A part of me actually agrees with you. Look, the squad lacked energy and Smiley is instant-Chase-energy. But the team has to proceed with a long-term view. This is a “gap year”. There will be no single game remaining that is a “must-win”. Everything is about improving next year’s roster.
See, I don’t really fret about wins and losses. I’m all about the process. I’ve been at odds with fellow media members since 2013 when a stubborn Mark Jackson would often stop our momentum in reporting by quipping, “That’s just part of the process.” I actually agreed with Jackson, although I didn’t like his delivery.
But I’ve been a coach before with egos to manage. Sometimes you do everything right and you still lose. Sometimes you do everything wrong and you get lucky. Most games usually fall somewhere in between. You can only control so much, so you try to enjoy the game from different angles. I’ve found those various angles because I’m so close to the team and see them daily. And having “St. Wardell” and his joy around for the lessons by osmosis certainly helps too. I do realize I’m quite blessed with that privilege. Ergo, I encourage each and every one of you to find this joy of the game and the Warriors so that wins and losses won’t affect you as much.And yet, I don’t want to sound defensive or condescending like MJax, so I do understand the urges for Smiley and of course the entertainment value would have skyrocketed last night with his presence. For one game.
Anyways, Kerr said that Smiley would have been buried behind Willie, Omari Spellman and Marquese Chriss anyways, so he’s better off getting chunks of minutes with the G League squad instead of spot or no minutes with the Big Squad. Kerr seemed to understand the fan sentiment for him, and he threw me a bone by saying they do love the nineteen-year-old Smiley.
So there you have it. A comment or two on our Game Thread literally got addressed by the man himself! “Let’s Go Warriors!”
SECRET STEPH SESSION
If you made it down this far — and didn’t incorrectly read “WSC” as “WCS” aka Willie Cauley-Stein aka not Wardell Stephen Curry 😏 —you’re about to be rewarded. As I headed out of the arena, the way you get back to the media entrance is you pass by the players’ tunnel. Well, the tunnel happened to be un-curtained when I walked by and sure enough, it was our boy Steph on the main floor doing his workout with Q.
I only got a glimpse, but he was once again shooting a free throw every now and then lefty. I reported this on YouTube and Twitter about a week ago, too, from Biofreeze.
And don’t even think I was about to pull out my phone and try to film him. Raymond Ridder probably would’ve swung in from the rafters and tackled me. I’m not gonna be that guy. I’ve been around the team enough to know what’s kosher and what’s off-limits in terms of footage.
No one’s been able to ask Steph about him shooting lefty, but I’ll try. He’s hard to track down and injured players are officially not required to speak to media. Anthony Slater already wrote on TheAthletic that Curry looks ready to play. Slater’s colleague, the great Marcus Thompson, a few days ago wrote that Steph is targeting March 1 as the return date. I was in the locker room when Steph told him that (probably), although I did not hear what they were talking about in general. Thompson is not always at every game and he’ll be covering the Super Bowl soon. Also Steph isn’t always available for a little chat like that. But I’ll try.
To me, Curry seems like he’s testing the broken left hand. It seems to be working well, if the swishes and general made free throws lefty are any indication. I’m going to throw in a joke that he needs to do that in a game a la Michael Jordan closing his eyes.
So all in all, this was no different a workout than we’ve already seen him do (search our YouTube and include “lefty” as a keyword) — except he had it on the main court. Who knows, maybe he was getting that itch to suit up like Klay did a few games ago.
To me, since I’m around the team so much, the key date isn’t March 1. It’s when Steph is cleared for contact at practice. That’s when he will dominate Twitter and Slater’s free video from practice — which will get ripped and copied on YouTube by some kid in a foreign country even before I’m able to upload my version — will gain a million views with zero kickback to Slater 🤷🏻♂️ (not a dig at Slater, just frustration with who gets to monetize what in the world of viral behind-the-scenes video, so thank you for gradually changing that paradigm!)
Maybe I’ll do a live Practice Thread that day… 🤔