Happy New Year, Golden State Warriors fans. And congratulations on already hitting all of your New Year’s resolutions. A little birdie told me that you’ve already read 25 books, been to the gym 200 times, learned a new language, volunteered on 10 different occasions, and got promoted. I’m very proud of you!
The Warriors, however, still have a lot of work to do on their resolutions. They haven’t even looked at the resolution that says, “win a championship” or, for that matter, even the one that says”, “make the playoffs.” They’re still stuck on “play winning basketball.” Once they’ve checked that one off, we can move on.
While those are the main resolutions for the Dubs, I have a few others for them. Here are seven resolutions that I sure would like to see Golden State attack with, as Jim Harbaugh once said, enthusiasm unknown to mankind.
Whoa! Starting off hot, are we?
If you’re looking for nuance from me as to whom the Warriors should target in a trade ... sorry, I don’t have it. Hell, if you’re looking for nuance from me as to whom the Warriors should get rid of, I also don’t have it. But the trade deadline is in about a month, so keep your eye open in the coming weeks.
I don’t know what players the Warriors should trade for. I don’t know what fake trades to propose. What I do know is this: despite having a losing record, despite being maddeningly inconsistent, and despite looking like a team with a lot to figure out, the Warriors also have ... umm ... believe it or not ... too many good players.
About three weeks ago, I wrote about Steve Kerr’s minutes conundrum. In that article I showed that, when healthy, the Warriors had — in my eyes — 284 minutes that they should be dispersing to their players. The problem? There are only 240 minutes to hand out in a regulation game.
And you know what else? The problem has only gotten worse since I published that article. In that column, I slated Brandin Podziemski for just 16 minutes; he’s now one of the team’s best players. I gave fellow rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis all of zero minutes; he’s now the starting center (or at least was a few days ago). Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins, suppressed to 30 and 26 minutes, respectively, have showed signs of their old selves in recent games.
Draymond Green’s absence makes it easier to solve the problem in the short term, but not the long term. There’s no one on the Warriors that I want to see traded. But I’m just not sure how this is supposed to work.
What would a New Year’s resolution list look like without some goals around personal health?
Injuries are always a way to solve minutes issues, but it goes without saying that we do not want injuries! More specifically, there are a number of players the Warriors cannot afford to lose if they want to compete. Green, Thompson, Steph Curry, and Chris Paul all have a fair number of injuries in their pasts, and it’s hard to imagine the team getting anywhere close to where they want to get if those four aren’t present and healthy.
On that note ...
Draymond Green gets the help he needs
Some things are bigger than basketball. Many things, I might argue.
Mental health and the wellbeing of the players on the Warriors is one of those things. Draymond Green is both the biggest and smallest story of the season for the Warriors. Biggest because it’s simply much bigger than the sport or the team. Smallest because, like Wiggins last year, it’s Green’s personal life and we’re not entitled to any more information about it than he wants to share.
We should all hope that Dray gets all the help he needs, whatever it looks like and however long it takes. It’s for the best for the team, but that pales in comparison to what it would mean for him and his family.
Minutes for Jonathan Kuminga
It hasn’t quite been the breakout season that many envisioned for Kuminga, but it has been, in my eyes, a huge step forward. He’s become a consistent enough player and a valuable enough contributor that it’s hard to see him relinquishing his spot in the starting lineup ... and I’m guessing it’s made Mike Dunleavy Jr. at least float the idea of trying to trade Wiggins at some point.
Kuminga’s minutes have been much more stable lately; he’s played more than 20 minutes in 11 of the team’s last 12 games. Still, I’d like to see the Warriors find a way to increase that, and give him 30 minutes a night, every night. It’s pretty important for finding out where the team stands going into next offseason ... and it just might produce a star by the time April rolls around.
Fix the turnovers
One of the reasons I had great optimism for the Dubs this year was because I thought the turnover issue — which has plagued them so much over the last decade — would take a leap forward.
It’s not hard to see why I was optimistic. They traded away Jordan Poole, who had the seventh-most turnovers in the league per 36 minutes last year (but just the 45th-most assists) for Paul, who has held up to his end of the bargain: he’s fifth in the NBA in assists per 36 minutes this season, but just 141st in turnovers.
And as a result, the Dubs have moved from 29th in the NBA in turnover rate a year ago to ... uhh ... 26th this year.
That simply won’t cut it. They don’t have the offensive firepower or defensive standing to overcome that issue.
Consistency for Klay Thompson
Klay has been starting to figure things out lately. Through his first 13 games this year, Thompson was averaging just 14.0 points per game and shooting 33.0% on threes, and had yet to score 20 in a game. But in the next 15 games he averaged 20.7 points, shot 42.2% from distance, and hit the 20-point mark 11 times.
That’s brought his season numbers up to a quietly respectable place, with advanced metrics such as EPM painting him as a starting-caliber player on the year.
But the inconsistency remains. Over the last three games, Klay has scored just 25 total points, shot 8-for-34 from the field, and nabbed just eight boards. Over the last month, Thompson has reminded us that he can be a serious weapon on a very good team. But the Dubs need to know they’re getting that on a nightly basis.
Figure out a starting lineup
Remember in training camp, when the talking point was whether or not CP3 would start? And how the team had six starters but had to choose five of those six to start?
Instead, 11 different players have started this year. And while injuries and suspensions have played some part in that, much of it has been facilitated by play (both bad and good), and Kerr mashing all the buttons on the machine trying to see if something works.
So far it hasn’t happened. The Warriors, known these last few years for having an elite starting unit and a strugglefest of a bench, have completely flipped the script. If they can figure out a consistent and high-quality starting lineup, they have the bench and the talent to take off.
What are your resolutions for the Warriors?