Kurtenbach: It’s time for the Warriors to swallow their pride

Peninsula Premier Admin

The Warriors have treated the beginning of the regular season as if the end result is guaranteed.

It isn’t.

The Warriors are 3-6, and winless on the road. It’s too early to change expectations, but it’s clearly not too early to create some real problems.

The Dubs need to treat the next few games like something is on the line. That requires the whole team to share that mentality.

It’s time for the Warriors to swallow their pride.

Coach Steve Kerr and his staff need to shake things up. The veterans need to feel a real sense of urgency. The young players need to check themselves. The organization’s higher-ups — all the way up — need to slow their roll.

Even columnists and fans need to re-evaluate why it is they believed success would be so seamless to start the season.

The Warriors’ brass believes in a “two-timeline” plan.

Right now, the Warriors are facing a “no-timeline” reality.

So the time for experimentation and big-picture vision is over, for now. Perhaps the Warriors can come back to those concepts next month, next year, or next season.

This isn’t pressing the panic button, it’s understanding the situation.

The Warriors as a team and individually have been toying with many goals this season — development, refinement, and comeuppance.

But the first few weeks of the season have been too complicated, and the complications have gotten in the way of winning.

That’s the goal that still supersedes all others.

And since the Warriors are not winning, all the other goals, plans, and side quests need to go.

If that means Kevon Looney, Andrew Wiggins, or Klay Thompson needs to come off the bench to improve the Warriors’ rotations and stabilize scoring for the full 48 minutes, so be it.

If the starters need to play more minutes for the next few games — such is the state of the Warriors’ bench — or Draymond Green needs to play way more center, then prepare the icebaths.

If the Warriors’ slide means that James Wiseman — who has played 121 disastrous rotational minutes in the name of development this season — needs to be benched or sent to the G-League, then prepare him a seat or gas up the bus.

And if Jordan Poole’s defense is believed by the coaching staff to be so bad that it’s disadvantageous to put him on the floor in meaningful moments — as we saw late in Thursday’s game with the Magic — then he can plant himself next to Wiseman on the bench and next to Steph Curry on the floor when he does see action.

The Warriors are still an excellent, title-contending team. The top players on the roster — the seven-man playoff rotation — is still one of the NBA’s best, if it’s not the best. The Warriors’ starting five is outscoring opponents by 28 points per 100 possessions. The four-man core of Curry, Thompson, Wiggins, and Green is good for half that number — still a tremendous mark.

The Warriors are still a deep team, too. There’s so much talent on this squad and even amid the struggles, it shows up in flashes. Moses Moody plays like a 10-year veteran despite being 20 years old. Jonathan Kuminga has the athleticism and confidence to be a game-changing, switch-everything defender. Poole is a brilliantly gifted scorer who deserved his nine-figure extension. JaMychal Green might not be Otto Porter, but he’s not far off — he’s just started slow. Donte DiVincenzo is a champion two-way guard. The Warriors are so excited about sweet-shooting Patrick Baldwin Jr. And while Wiseman might get pushed around on the court and show little feel for the game, he still has moments where he looks the part of a big-time center.

But those flashes of excellence for the youngsters — for Wiseman and every other Warriors bench player — have been few and far between. And when one player is flashing, another is doing something to sabotage that excellence.

This is a team completely out of sync. It’s a team dramatically different than last year’s title team — save for the fact that Curry is carrying them. It’s a team that desperately craves the established roles of last year’s squad.

It misses Mike Brown, the team’s defensive coordinator and rotation czar.

It misses Gary Payton II, who would always bring elite perimeter defense and serious energy.

It misses Porter and Damion Lee, who would take (and make) tough shots off the bench.

It even misses Nemanja Bjelica, who they could trust to put in a professional shift as a backup center.

They were good — and in some cases spectacular — role players.

But those players are gone, and they’re not coming back.

And what the Warriors have in-house can, in fact, replace what they lost. But translating talent into a role isn’t an easy thing to do. It’s not guaranteed, either — as evidenced by the early portion of the season.

It’s clear: The Warriors aren’t going to find the best version of this team by continuing to walk the path they have been on to start the season.

So it’s time to shake things up. It’s time to tighten up — emotionally and rotationally. It’s time to drop the timelines and fully embrace the here and now.

Contributed by local news sources

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