Since the Warriors have been to three straight NBA Finals, their recent offseasons have been quite a bit shorter than most other NBA teams. Not only is playing about 20 more games per season exhausting for the body and mind, but the shorter recuperation period can take a toll on the NBA champions.
As a result, it’s not very much of a surprise that the Warriors were generally out of shape coming into camp. They’ll need to be ready for the first game of the regular season is October 17th, which is coming soon!
Conditioning is critical to the Warriors’ style of play. They play at the fastest pace of the league, and are lethal in transition. Their smaller lineups in particular are simply too quick for opposing big men.
On Thursday, coach Steve Kerr emphasized that conditioning would be a focal point during training camp, saying, “We just want to keep building our conditioning. Guys are getting tired with a 12-minute scrimmage. In a few weeks, we’re going to need guys going 48, so it’s going to be hard. We have to keep building, execute and get conditioning all at the same time.”
After Saturday’s sloppy game, Steve Kerr specifically called out Nick Young for coming into camp unprepared. He said, “He's not shot the ball well in camp. He came in a little bit heavy. As he rounds into shape, he's going to shoot it better.”
If Nick Young can’t blend into the Warriors’ team culture, he’ll struggle to crack the rotation. On a championship team, there’s no room for players who don’t give it their all. Last year, JaVale McGee, a similar reclamation project, was known on the team for how hard he worked in practice all year. For Young to succeed on the Warriors, he’ll have to show a lot more effort to the coaching staff.
The Warriors might be heads and shoulders above the rest of the league, but I do wonder what their motivation is for this season. Last season was about redemption—Kevin Durant proved his decision to come to Golden State was smart, and the rest of the Warriors were able to put the disastrous 2016 Finals in the rearview mirror. Is the satisfaction of another dominant title run all this team needs to play inspired basketball?
It might not even matter. The Warriors are elite in so many ways they might not need that extra reason to win. They’re all professionals, and these types of storylines can often conjured out of nothing for the fans’ own enjoyment.
I don’t expect conditioning to remain a significant problem for this team, but it’s worth keeping an eye on. The margin for error won’t always be as large as it was last year.