Ahead of opening night, Kerr sees more conditioning needed for his team. “I don't I don't think we're ready to have our our top five or six guys play 30 plus minutes a night. So we've got to rely on our depth.”— Kerith Burke (@KerithBurke) October 17, 2022
Specifically, Kerr seems to be referring to the starters + Jordan Poole. This is understandable, as the team had a condensed training camp because of two preseason games in Japan. They also had a compressed offseason because they played 22 playoff games, all the way until mid-June. Plus, some valuable time for cardiovascular activity instead went to answering questions about Draymond Green punching Jordan Poole.
So how did they stay in shape? There was sumo wrestling.
The young guys dabbled in sword training.
Steph Curry golfed and worked on his mini-basketball skills with some other MVPs.
And as usual, Kevon Looney spent his time dunking on a nine-foot rim in a weird empty gym and chugging FITAID.
Klay Thompson didn’t scrimmage all summer, though that didn’t stop him from scoring 17 points in 16 minutes and shooting nearly every time he touched the ball in his lone preseason game. He’s probably good for 22 minutes and 25 shots in the opener. As for Steph, Wiggins, and Draymond, it probably depends on the game and/or podcast ad read situation on a nightly basis.
Kerr’s comments may have been fitness-shaming his starters, but they also made it clear that the Dubs plan to lean on their bench quite a bit. That’s an implicit endorsement of Donte DiVincenzo, who showed surprisingly point guard skills in the postseason, plus all the youngsters. Jonathan Kuminga had a stellar game in the preseason finale with 17 points and seven assists. James Wiseman’s defense has been, let’s say, unpredictable, but he seems to get five dunks every game. Moses Moody is an emerging three-and-D specialist who somehow turned the ball over only 13 times his entire rookie season. And Patrick Baldwin Jr. shot like the top-10 recruit he was just two years ago.
Also JaMychal Green is a sold defensive big man who takes nearly 80% of his shots either at the rim, or behind the three-point line, an offensive efficiency dream. Oh, and in an emergency, there’s also that Andre guy.
We should add that it doesn’t show a great deal of fear and respect for the banged-up Los Angeles Lakers that Kerr is already announcing his starters won’t play more than 30 minutes. And if Russell Westbrook is able to play? Probably only 25.
So while the top guys play themselves into shape, count their new money, find a place to dock their boats, and leak to Woj that they’re opting into their deals next year, the bench players will be there to soak up those minutes with their young and springy muscles. No offense to Andre’s less-springy-but-still-impressive muscles, of course.