OAKLAND — It’s been a different kind of preseason for the Golden State Warriors and NBA at large.
While teams are assimilating new players and implementing fresh systems, they’ll have to learn how to do it with less time than usual before the season starts. Each team will play just four preseason games, which means veterans will get their conditioning work on Saturday, when the Warriors play their first action since winning the title in June.
“The young guys aren’t going to play a whole lot,” head coach Steve Kerr said Thursday. “It’s just the way it is. Normally, you take a game or two and you give the young guys a good look. But with only four games, we’re not going to have that luxury.”
Kerr said the Warriors had their first poor showing of training camp on Thursday, although he admitted days like that are inevitable.
The new schedule is great for vets — the preseason is geared toward them — but unfortunate for young guys like Jordan Bell, who has a reasonable chance to crack the rotation as a rookie. Before he can do that, he’ll have to get up to speed with the pro game.
Kerr said the second-round pick has looked like a rookie and that his head is spinning trying to retain all the information. Bell agreed.
“There’s just a lot of stuff being thrown at me,” Bell admitted.
He’ll be fine with time. He’s going through the typical NBA rookie experience, as Kerr put it. But Warriors fans must be patient before they declare him another draft-night steal by general manager Bob Myers.
That’s the bargain the NBA is making with the new schedule: In exchange for happier and healthier players, quality of play — especially players on new teams — is going to suffer in the early months.
And the league took it a step further on Thursday, when the Board of Governors voted to give Commissioner Adam Silver the power to fine teams that rest healthy players for “high-profile, nationally televised games.” The new guideline also prohibits teams (like the Warriors, who rarely rested their stars at home) from sitting multiple healthy players while they’re on the road.
The goal is to keep the best players in the league as visible as possible, and that starts Saturday.
Bringing up Bell
Unlike other teams, the veterans on the Warriors don’t have to worry about the young guys taking their spots, according to Kerr.
That means Bell is getting a lot of guidance from Draymond Green in general, Zaza Pachulia on boxing out and JaVale McGee on defensive coverages.
The collaborative nature of the franchise is shining through yet again.
Kids these days
McGee received a lot of criticism when he was a rookie because he loved to post on social media.
On Thursday, he decried how unfairly he was treated compared to what teams expect of their players now.
“You know what the people told us when we were rookies and stuff? ‘Focus on basketball. Make sure you’re doing this or doing that. You’re not focused because you’re posting stuff online and stuff,’” McGee said. “Now, it’s like the PR [team] tells us, ‘Hey, you should post more on your Instagram now and make videos. That’s really good content.’ It’s crazy how we were ahead of our time and now everybody is doing what we were doing and it’s OK. But I guess everybody has a time for everything.”
Just another example of a visionary not getting his due credit at the time.