Oakland — Warriors general manager Bob Myers won’t take any credit for the team’s remarkable run of good health this season, even if the record suggests otherwise.
“It’s luck,” Myers said after practice on Saturday, when he asked to explain how the Warriors managed to stay so healthy while so many of the NBA’s biggest stars have been ravaged by injuries.
It was the same answer that Draymond Green had offered a week earlier, when he said that the team had been “fortunate” this season.
In the past, the Warriors haven’t been nearly as lucky, dealing with the misfortunes that left the Cleveland Cavaliers without All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in the series. “We weren’t healthy last year,” Myers said. “We weren’t healthy the year before. Maybe we won’t be healthy next year. So, I don’t know that injuries are preventable. You can hire the best doctors and trainers you can, but every team does that.”
In that case, the work of Keke Lyles, the director of athletics performance, may be the best place to start.
“He’s important. Everybody’s important as far as what there job is,” Myers said. “He’s a professional. He approaches it very diligently and we listen to him.
“It’s great to have good people in all aspects of the organization, but the trainer position, the strength coach position is a very important role. And he’s doing a good job.”
All season long, Lyles has been stockpiling data from STATS LLC’s SportVU cameras and Catapult Sports’ wearable technology.
The SportVU is a six-camera system operating in the rafters of the Oracle Arena, which captures player movement at 25 frames per second. It allows the team to determine if a player is showing signs of fatigue or overuse. During practice, the players wear the Catapult Sports device to track movement.
That data, combined with coach Steve Kerr’s basketball knowledge and instincts, is what led to resting players like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson back in March.
At the time, holding out the Splash Brothers among others resulted in a flood of angry emails that Kerr received from fans. Now, those decisions appear to be paying major dividends — even if Myers isn’t willing to draw a direct link between rest and good health just yet.
“Maybe,” Myers said when asked if there was a connection. “But you leave it to somebody like Steve who’s been a player and been around it and been in some long postseasons to make those determinations.
“But you never really quite know. You try to listen to your coaches and strength coaches on if a player is showing signs of fatigue at any point in the season, respond to that maybe with some rest.”
Several players were not only given entire nights off, but also their minutes were kept in check by frequent blowout victories and the ability of the second unit to play at a high level.
“It was a focal point for us to try to keep guys fresh, but it was made easy by our players’ play,” Kerr said. “I wouldn’t have sat Steph out of 17 fourth quarters if we’d had close games in those 17 games.”
Curry spent significantly less time on the court than he did a season ago. After averaging 36.5 minutes per game during the 2013-2014 season, his logged only 32.7 minutes per night this year.
“Whether it’s paid off or not, I guess that’s subjective,” Kerr said. “But I do like our players, the look. They look fast. They look sharp out there.”
Curry didn’t hedge when asked if limited playing time helped keep him fresher.
“I feel great, and I think that has a lot to do with it,” Curry said. “[Kerr] managed my minutes with the rotations and kept them pretty much the same no matter what the situation was.”
With Game 5 looming today and the series being knotted at 2-2, rest is the last thing on Curry’s mind at the moment.
“With three games left, whatever you have percentagewise, however you feel, you almost got to psych yourself mentally to think, ‘All right, give it all you got for three games,’” Curry said. “We’re playing for a (championship) ring. So I do feel good. I think I’ll be pretty fresh once Game 5 starts and kind of take it from there.”Bob MyersCleveland CavaliersDraymond GreenGolden State WarriorsInjuriesNBANBA Finals