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sport / / BANG: No matter how season ends, Golden State Warriors made a step in the right direction

o BANG: No matter how season ends, Golden State Warriors made a step in the right Allen

BANG: No matter how season ends, Golden State Warriors made a step in the right direction


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From: (Allen)
Subject: BANG: No matter how season ends, Golden State Warriors made a step in
the right direction
Date: Sat, 13 Apr 2024 18:51:46 -0700
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 by: Allen - Sun, 14 Apr 2024 01:51 UTC

No matter how season ends, Golden State Warriors made a step in the
right direction
Warriors' record and outlook is better heading into the post-season than
a year ago

Danny Emerman is a Bay Area News Group sports reporter
By DANNY EMERMAN | | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: April 12, 2024 at 4:33 p.m. | UPDATED: April 12, 2024 at 5:00

By beating the Blazers in Portland Thursday night, the Warriors
officially surpassed their win total from last year.

As if they needed to win more games than last year to prove the simple
point: this season’s team is better than last year’s. Their roster makes
more sense, they’re less dependent on journeymen bit players, and they
gel together better.

Steve Kerr has repeatedly said that this season’s group has been among
the most fun he’s had the opportunity to coach. Take his word for it.

“We’re definitely a better team,” Kerr said this week. “Better two-way
basketball, better connection, better chemistry. Much better vibe with
this team. So I still believe, firmly, that we can do something special.”

Last year’s team entered the playoffs as the six-seed and beat the Kings
in the first round before falling to the Lakers in the Western
Conference semis. The stacked West this year will pit Golden State
somewhere in the play-in round, depending on how the last pair of games
shake up.

The Warriors (45-35) end the regular season with two home games: tonight
against the New Orleans Pelicans and Sunday afternoon against the Utah Jazz.

Ultimately, every season in the shiny Chase Center is defined by a
championship run. The Warriors have earned that standard by creating the
NBA’s modern dynasty. Joe Lacob is paying a historic luxury tax bill for
the most expensive roster in league history. Simply improving
year-over-year doesn’t make this season a success.

But the Warriors certainly made serious progress and have a stronger
foundation to build on in the future — and that’s not nothing. They’re
deeper, younger and have more options.

“Absolutely,” Klay Thompson said when asked if this year’s group is
better than 2022-23.

The reflective Thompson noted that this team needs to actually advance
further in the playoffs than last year’s group before being truly
considered superior. For the Warriors, winning is everything. That’s
what four championships in a decade does for perspective.

But the Warriors, Thompson said, are playing the best brand of
basketball they’ve played all season in April. It’s also been probably
their best sustained stretch of classic Warriors style and substance
since their 2021-22 championship run.

Last season got derailed before it began, when Draymond Green punched
Jordan Poole in preseason. The incident scabbed over, and never quite

This season, the Warriors have had a strong enough locker room to
overcome continued self-inflicted wounds from Green. His on-court
outbursts early in the season cost him over 20 games. Some around the
team felt that his career was in jeopardy when the league handed him an
indefinite suspension.

Green hasn’t picked up a flagrant foul since returning. Sage point guard
and locker room presence Chris Paul replaced Poole, who is languishing
in Washington.

Paul and Green, longtime foes, turned out to be somewhat basketball
kindred spirits. Paul’s ability to run the second unit has allowed
Golden State to win the minutes while Steph Curry sits more frequently
than any Warriors team that didn’t have Kevin Durant.

Paul has also brought another valuable voice into the locker room. He’s
a counterbalance to Curry’s leadership style and represents a 180 from
the Poole experience.

In Dallas, after losing to the Mavericks — the Warriors’ only loss in
their past 10 games — heads weren’t hanging in the postgame locker room.
The mood wasn’t bitter. Conversation revolved around how great it’ll be
to return home to the Bay after a tough stretch of traveling and the
upcoming Wrestlemania.

This year’s team ranks fifth in offensive rating compared to eighth in
2022-23. Golden State’s defense is rated slightly worse, but has been
elite since Trayce Jackson-Davis joined Green in the starting lineup
(fourth in the last nine games).

Jackson-Davis and Brandin Podziemski went on ESPN this week to say
they’re the NBA’s best rookie duo, and they have a real case. Each —
Mike Dunleavy Jr.’s first class — has a real shot at landing on an
All-Rookie team.

Podziemski leads the league in charges drawn and has been a connector
who fits any Warriors lineup all year. Jackson-Davis’ pressure on both
rims have made him the steal of the draft and a legitimate option as the
team’s starting center going forward.

In addition to the rookies, Jonathan Kuminga has broken out as a
consistent secondary scorer in his third year. He’s not perfect; Kuminga
still struggles against bigger, more athletic defenders and it’s
noteworthy that the Warriors didn’t miss a beat when he was sidelined
for six straight games with knee tendinitis. But Kuminga made a real
leap and has been Golden State’s most consistent wing for much of the

Game 82: How Warriors are approaching regular season finale
Just in time: Steph Curry comes alive late to rescue Warriors in Portland
Steph Curry on Draymond Green’s latest ejection: ‘We need him’
Steph Curry isn’t running from a future in politics. What do experts
think of his chances?
Photos: Watch Steph and Ayesha Curry surprise Oakland Marathon runners

Many of Kuminga, Jackson-Davis and Podziemski’s minutes were soaked up
last year by Anthony Lamb, Ty Jerome and JaMychal Green. They’re either
out of the league or trending that way.

This season, Kerr has said, has been about developing the team’s young
group of players so they can take some of the burden off their veterans
while still competing. Kuminga, Podziemski and Jackson-Davis blooming
into — at the very least — reliable contributors is a major
accomplishment in that sense. They’ve given the team more levers to
pull, including moving Klay Thompson in and out of the starting lineup.

They’re also on cheap contracts that should make it easier for the
organization to build around, a significant fact for a franchise at the
doors of second apron hell.

The path for the Warriors to extend their season longer than they did
last year is rough. They’ll have to win at least one play-in game and
possibly face the title-favorites Nuggets in the first round. Even
getting that opportunity is no guarantee.

But the Warriors are better, and they’re better positioned to improve
more. It won’t hang a banner, but that’s a win.

sport / / BANG: No matter how season ends, Golden State Warriors made a step in the right direction


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