It’ll be OK. It’ll be OK. It’ll be OK. At least that’s what Golden State Warriors fans are telling themselves this season. Currently sitting at 14-15, Steph Curry and Co. are 10th in the West, right on the bubble for a play-in game.
It’s like questioning if the Patriots would win the AFC East with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Until proven otherwise, gimme the team the most likely to go on a run, to go on a run.
Yet with Golden State, it feels like we’re nearing the point of slight returns. Curry is the lone Warrior averaging more than 20 (or 30) points per game, and now he’s out a few weeks with a shoulder injury. The scoring onus now falls on Thompson and Poole, but the two are making a combined 13 of their 31 attempts per game, good for 42 percent of their shots.
The young players haven’t shown up as expected, and with every loss to the Pacers, it becomes increasingly difficult to assume Golden State will coast to the NBA Finals, or even the conference finals.
Without Curry, the offense is going to drop out of the top three. Perhaps the bottom-four defense will improve, but Steve Kerr can’t depend on either side of the ball at the moment. And that’s the crux of the problem facing the defending champs.
Golden State’s identity has to persevere the same way it did when Thompson was out last season. Well, Steph is the squad’s offensive identity this season, and Thompson and Poole are going to have to carry the load. That’s what Klay is getting $40 million to do, and that’s what Jordan just got an extension for.
All that noise we heard about Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody can’t just be noise. The production has to be there, and while we’re at it, James Wiseman’s 19 and 10 in the G League would be very useful in the actual league even if it’s 14 and 8.
Kerr is going to have to adjust his scheme. It might be perfect for Curry, but there’s only one Steph, and he’s not here right now.
We praise other coaching staffs for tailoring a system to get the best out of their roster’s skill set, and that’s the one hangup I have with Kerr. Not everybody is equipped to handle AP Physics, and as much as it probably feels like teaching elementary children, we’ve seen teams get by on the basics.
The West might not be that top-heavy, but it’s still deep, and it’s not going to be easy moving higher in the standings when everybody in front of you doesn’t suck. Warriors fans can no longer find solace in the “It’ll be OK” mantra. It might be fine if they had ground to give up, not make up.