Steve Kerr may have the deepest, most versatile roster in the NBA, but the Warriors’ inability to keep up with the Oklahoma City Thunder reflects poorly on the second-year coach. (Sue Ogrocki/AP)

Time for Kerr to prove he’s Coach of the Year

There are a long list of reasons why the Warriors are in a 1-3 crater in the Western Conference Finals. Stephen Curry. Draymond Green. Start with Andrew Bogut, then pick a big — any big.

But Balls is lookin’ at you, Steve Kerr.

Kerr deserves a lot of credit for not screwing up a great thing the last two seasons. Sure, he has had a lot to work with, but it’s not so easy to sell a new program to monstrous egos then mold them into a cohesive group. Still, let’s face it: As an X’s and O’s guy, the Coach of the Year hasn’t made anyone forget Gregg Popovich, if for no other reason than he hasn’t had to yet.

Well, Stevie Wiseacre, your time has come.

Oh, Kerr is aware of the problems, all right. Played dumb. Didn’t move the ball well enough. Hoisted too many circus shots (again). Committed many turnovers (again). Curry and Green have been missing in action. Can’t argue with any of that.

Yet while rookie Thunder coach Billy Donovan has pressed most of the right buttons, Kerr has been woefully short on answers lately. The COTY has the deepest, most versatile roster in the league at his disposal, but one couldn’t tell it the last two games. Clearly, the Champs weren’t prepared for the challenge, and that starts with him.

Let’s also not forget that, while lame duck assistant Luke Walton is with the team physically, part of him has headed to Los Angeles already. While the Warriors put together a game plan the other day, the new Lakers coach added Brian Shaw to his staff. If Walton is a bit preoccupied with his next team, that’s understandable. But one has to wonder if his imminent departure hasn’t been a detriment to some extent.

In his first real test as coach, Kerr can shut up the critics once and for all. If the COTY makes the necessary adjustments and his team responds well to adversity, he’ll prove he’s much more than a television guy who lucked into a dream job. But if the Champs fail to reach the NBA Finals, the COTY may as well give his award back.

WHAT WOULD RICK DO? Balls asked Warriors legend Rick Barry to make sense of the series, and here’s what he had to say in an email:

“They have lost their focus as far as playing the type of basketball that they excel in, and it is compounded by Steph not shooting well along with Draymond struggling.

“They are making some of the worse passes imaginable, killing any momentum. They’re also giving up too many offensive rebounds. Another factor is the great play of [Russell] Westbrook and [Kevin] Durant.”                  

Might a lineup change be in order here?

“Not to start, but quickly if things go bad!”

Uh, got all that, coach?

JOHNNY B. GREAT: Johnny Cueto isn’t only the best free agent pickup of last offseason, he’s the Giants’ most valuable player so far, and the runner-up is in another ZIP code.

How consistent has Cueto been in his 10 starts? He allowed more than three runs only twice and pitched at least seven innings in nine of them. Here’s the number that jumps off the page — his 2.5 Wins Above Replacement is better than all but a half-dozen position players in the big leagues.

Hard to believe the front office threatened to sign Mike Leake instead, isn’t it?

WHERE HAVE YOU GONE … J.T. O’Sullivan?

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? A compliment?! Send them to pladd@aol.com, and who knows, you may get your name in the paper before long.

Billy DonovanBrian ShawDraymond GreenGolden State WarriorsGregg PopovichJohnny CuetoLuke WaltonPaul LadewskiRick BarrySan FranciscoSan Francisco GiantsStephen CurrySteve Kerr

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