Warriors ready for opening night after preseason finale win

Teams usually have two goals when wrapping up preseason basketball: get their players into some kind of rhythm and avoid injuries at all costs.

The Warriors accomplished one of those things at least in their 117-106 win against the Kings Friday.

Even without three of their top six rotation players, Golden State had no trouble finding their rhythm against Sacramento. They had 20 assists on 21 first half baskets, while only turning it over five times.

This story will be updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors’ locker room at Oracle Arena.

Stephen Curry played just the first half of the preseason’s final game, but really that’s all he needed to put a bow on what has been a harbinger of doom for the rest of the league.

Curry finished the preseason shooting 14-of-28 from deep, while scoring 58 points in his last 50 minutes.

Keep in mind that Curry shot 41.1 percent from deep last year, which was the worst 3-point percentage of his career. And it’s almost impossible to imagine Curry having back-to-back down years shooting the rock.

Rookie Jordan Bell took Draymond Green’s spot in the starting lineup and looked right at home. He would finish with 10 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two block in his 24 minutes. Bell was all over the court, smothering passing lanes, altering shots and being aggressive on offense. Basically giving his best Draymond-lite performance.

Bell said that’s all due to his on court mentality:

“I just go out there with the mindset of WWDD, what would Draymond do. [Laughs] Naw, I just saw that on Twitter. I really just come out and play my game. Obviously, I know I’m not the number one option on my team, probably the fifth option no matter who I’m out there with. So I try to just go out there and get rebounds and block shots.”

That’s not a bad way to earn minutes either, because this team could always use a little more Draymond on the court. They never had anyone who could replicate the kind of defensive ability when he’s off the court, but now Bell is flashing that potential.

With the way Bell has been playing, Steve Kerr is already bracing for some tough decisions with his frontcourt rotation:

“Jordan will get his chance at some point. He’s going to be a really good pro and we’re really excited about him. … He did a hell of a job tonight and he’s got a lot of growth ahead of him.”

The most impressive thing about Bell is that he doesn’t sacrifice rebounds while altering shots. Normally challenging every shot, especially outside of the paint, takes a player out of rebounding position. But Bell manages to not only produce gasp-inducing contests almost every possession but come back and track down that same rebound.

The Warriors, though, weren’t able to avoid injuries as Omri Casspi went down early in the second quarter with what appeared to be a rolled right ankle. After the game Kerr called the injury a minor sprain and said that it didn’t look too bad. While the injury certainly isn’t good news, it’s not as if Casspi needs any extra time learning this new offense, as he’s already looked incredibly comfortable with his precise back cuts and reads.

His injury did open the door for Kevon Looney who has struggled to find the court amidst an ultra-deep frontcourt, which is a concerning for a third-year forward.

He had his most productive stint on court during this game, racking up nine points and eight rebounds during his 18 minutes of action, after playing just 19 minutes combined in the first three games.

It’s tough to envision any way he passes Bell in the rotation at this point though, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him on the inactive list for the majority of the regular season.

The Warriors wing rotation is just as crowded. With Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston both entrenched in their roles, the Dubs also have to find minutes for Patrick McCaw and Nick Young.

McCaw looks primed for a consistent role as he’s returned to the team much more aggressive offensively.

That quality is something Kerr thinks is a necessity:

“I just think tonight the difference is he was really aggressive, he got 15 shots up. We need him to be aggressive. Everybody’s better when they’re aggressive, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen somebody who’s better when they’re passive. We need him to attack like he did tonight.”

And Young had his best game in a Warriors uniform, knocking down five 3-pointers and looks to be in a little better shape then he came into camp.

Regardless of how the rotations shake out, there’s no denying that this team looks ready for the regular season to start.

Up next

After a more relaxed four-game preseason schedule, the Warriors gear up for their 2017-18 regular season debut Tuesday against the visiting Houston Rockets. Golden State played a total of seven preseason games last year.

Notes

Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala all sat out the finale with various ailments, but their status for opening night is not in doubt. … The Warriors signed and then waived center Trevor Thompson in a span of eight hours Friday. While it may look cold, it was a move to ensure Thompson gets assigned to the Santa Cruz Warriors.


Curtis Uemura is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @CUemura on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.