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Today I had the opportunity to check out the end of the Golden State Warriors' practice and take part in the media session afterwards. Since it was my first time there I was more of an observer than anything else; the following is just a quick rundown of a few of those observations.
With Maccabi Haifa in town for tomorrow night's game at Oracle Arena, the Golden State Warriors prepared for the game just like any other game - as both Warriors coach Mark Jackson and point guard Stephen Curry alluded to in their post-practice interviews, they're a pro team that runs pro stuff so you have to treat this game just like any other game.
There will be more on that game around the web from the various outlets there and Warriors.com, but here are a few totally random observations and non-earth shattering tidbits of information from the day.
- Obviously the big news, as reported by Contra Costa Times reporter Marcus Thompson II already, is that Warriors coach Mark Jackson announced that rookie small forward Harrison Barnes will be getting his first start against Maccabi tomorrow night. It's not a permanent decision at this point, but it will give the coaching staff an opportunity to see how he does and Barnes a chance to get some more run with the starting unit (which will otherwise remain the same).
- Center Andrew Bogut continued to be a "limited participant" in practice as he continues his rehab on his left ankle. Rookie forward Draymond Green was also out once again with a left knee inflammation and is considered day-to-day. Nevertheless, Green was constantly engaged in practice: talking to vets, asking questions of coaches, and just soaking up everything. By all accounts he's a high IQ player and it starts with how he approaches practices even when he can't actually play.
- A film crew was in attendance to follow the Maccabi team, which was one of the clubs Warriors forward Jeremy Tyler played during his experience overseas after leaving high school early. Obviously makes for a nice story for them. After tomorrow night's game, the crew will head to Minnesota for Maccabi's game against the Timberwolves. The NBA games are their first two major events of the season.
- Media was allowed into the practice gym to watch the last few minutes of practice, which was basically just a walk-through of the scout for Maccabi.
- After they broke their huddle, players spread out across the practice court to shoot free throws. Watching Stephen Curry, who's still just working himself back into the flow of things after sitting out for months due to injury, shoot free throws is a thing of beauty. With Jarrett Jack rebounding for him, Curry was shooting - and making - free throws at about the pace I would make shots on one of those arcade basketball games. Good free throw shooting starts with reps; great free throw shooting comes when you're able to hit them almost by reflex.
- Bogut was getting a light workout across the facility with assistant coach Darren Erman, doing a little bit of catching and shooting as well as jogging through a drill where he received the ball off cuts and finished at the rim. It's impossible to take anything from that kind of stuff, but he's up and moving, which is nice to see since we haven't seen him on the court this season.
- As Thompson has already tweeted, Jarrett Jack was the last guy on the practice court getting his shots up, but there were a number of guys sticking around well after practice to get shots in after they officially broke the huddle.
- Although Green was a limited participant in practice, he was one of the last three guys in the gym getting some shots up along with Tarence Kinsey. After Kinsey left the court, Green continued just putting up some threes. As he left the court after his final interview, Jackson poked fun at Green a bit remarking, "Ay Dray, you weren't hittin' all those threes in summer league!" Green, probably one of the lighthearted guys on the team, just laughed him off and continued to knock down his shots.
- Both Sammy Gelfand and Kirk Lacob, who I had an opportunity to chat with in Santa Cruz, were in attendance for the practice and introduced me briefly to Santa Cruz Warriors assistant Casey Hill. The group was sitting courtside watching practice when media were allowed to enter.
As this was my first time at a Warriors' practice, I am in no position to compare this to past years but by all accounts the atmosphere this season - from players' willingness to go out into the community to the number of guys sticking around after practice - is just more positive than it has been in recent years. Even if the team falls short of some of our loftier expectations for this year, things definitely seem to be moving in the right direction.