Preview: The revolution will be televised! Warriors kick off preseason against Nuggets
NBCSBA swoops in late and will air Golden State's first preseason game - just dont expect it to be pretty!
For the first time in about nine months, the Golden State Warriors will take to the hardwood when they host the Denver Nuggets this evening. It’s the preseason, so not exactly the most meaningful game - but with questions swirling around the health and viability of the next phase of this Stephen Curry led dynasty, every moment of this season should be intriguing.
WHO: Golden State Warriors vs. Denver Nuggets
WHEN: Saturday, December 12, 2020; 5:30 pm PST
WHERE: Chase Center, San Francisco CA (but no one can go)
Rise like a phoenix, or just lay in ashes?
We won’t retread the tumultuous recent history, but it’s no secret that the Warriors are a franchise balanced on the edge. Golden State’s faithful know that a core of Stephen Curry and Draymond Green can carry any team into the playoffs, but the historical inertia has ground to a halt over the past season. The Warriors have their eyes back on the sky, but with so much lost star talent will need to rediscover their winning ways quickly - or fall by the wayside as the league relentlessly moves forward.
It’s unlikely to be a quick and smooth flight back to the upper echelons of the league, but one way or another, it’s time for this new phase of the Warriors to rise out of the ashes.
Here’s some early keys to watch:
Can Paschall take the next step?
Eric Paschall is the first Warrior to be named to the NBA all-rookie team since Klay Thompson, and his strong performance during the rookie showcase during the All Star break indicates that he has the chops to hang with some of the best players.
Paschall’s continued development is paramount for the Warriors. Not only do they need his on-court contributions, but a draft success story would do wonders for fan confidence after watching the team mostly miss on their lower draft selections.
He’ll start in this game (alongside Looney) due to the Coronavirus-related absesnces of Draymond Green and James Wiseman. Without much of a training camp, and an abbreviated offseason, this is Paschall’s early chance to stand out.
Last season, he emerged as one of the more reliable offensive options. His averages (13.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists) are nice, but it’s really the end of season push that was most intriguing to me. Playing starter minutes to close a lost season, he racked up assists (6, 5, 8, 6, and 7 in the final game) - it was just the sort of continual improvement that you love to see. Pachall wasn’t just getting better, he was deepening his game.
Can the revamped roster gel?
I’m just going to assume that Curry continues to play like himself. After spending the past three seasons subsuming parts of his game in order to facilitate the integration of another ball dominant player in Kevin Durant, Curry is firmly back in the driver’s seat - for better or worse.
So while Curry will thrive within the new opportunities, the rest of the team is mostly an assemblage of castoffs and misfits. The reclamation projects of Marquese Chriss and Andrew Wiggins will be dragged into a bright spotlight. The found players like Kent Bazemore and Kelly Oubre, will be okay, but can they be a legitimate addition?
Because in order to truly compete in a playoff environment (much less make the playoffs in the first place) all these parts need to come together in a meaningful way. The Warriors don’t need to fully replace what they’ve lost with the departure of Kevin Durant and the double-serious injuries to Klay Thompson; but they do need all these replacement cogs to work.
Coach Kerr said after practice yesterday that he’s going to run the team like the Gary Payton and Shaun Kemp Sonics teams: “Tomorrow I’m thinking in the 20 range would be max for just about everybody. Which means literally every guy on the roster is going to get pretty significant minutes.”
Like a toddler trying to figure out a puzzle, it’s time to cram everything together and see what fits well and what doesn’t work. Kerr may have some ideas about who goes where, but these three preseason games will likely include a tremendous amount of “guess and check” roster combinations as he seeks a reliable pecking order for the second unit, and deeper bench players.
Are the Nuggets for real, for real?
Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic blasted their way past a crowded Western Conference feild in last year’s bubble playoffs. A classic 1-5 combo for the ages, Murray’s dynamic play on the perimiter and sweet shooting touch have a sort of Wonder Twins power (activate!) that finally seems to have lifted the Nuggets into the league’s elite.
But the bubble was weird. And now Curry is back, Portland is better after adding Robert Covington, and the Lakers impressively fleshed out their bench. Unless something goes disastrously wrong for Denver, they forecast to be in that B Tier of good teams that aren’t super loaded Super Teams. If they hope to advance their title aspirations to the next level, it will require their stars to make that big next step into superstardom.
Jokic is one of the rare big men that the Warriors will not have a good answer for, by design, until Wiseman develops. Bigger than anyone on the Warriors roster, and boasting elite playmaking skills for a big, he presents a problem that every team in the league is still trying to figure out. Against the undersized Warriors frontcourt, he should feast.
Ha! Who cares!! WARRIORS BASKETBALL IS BACK!
Let’s go Warriors!
[clap, clap, clapclapclap]
See you all back here at 5:30, this is your game thread.