SAN FRANCISCO – When the Warriors we’ve come to know splintered in July, coach Steve Kerr decided to get risky. Partly out of principle, partly out of circumstance.
Kerr likes to play small. Loves to play small. Flood the floor with versatile players capable of defending multiple positions on one end, for easy switching, while also being a scoring threat on the other. This approach served the Warriors well, five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, with three championships.
That success came largely on the efforts of Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson, Shaun Livingston and, the last three years, Kevin Durant. They had experience, length, intellect and anticipation. Steph Curry did his part, too, but as an ultra-dangerous scorer at the point, he was spared some of the broad defensive responsibilities.
Kerr and the Warriors were trendsetters, to a degree. Other coaches, Don Nelson and Mike D’Antoni to name two, have relied on similar strategy, but none has succeeded as Kerr has.
With Iguodala, Livingston and Durant gone, all replaced by younger but unaccomplished players, it’s risky to stay small. Without a legitimate rim protector behind the new crew, it’s downright hazardous.
The Warriors opened the preseason against the Lakers on Saturday with 6-foot-9, 275-pound Omari Spellman, scrapped after one season by the lowly Hawks, starting at center. His backup was 6-10, 240-pound Marquese Chriss, a 2016 lottery pick discarded by three teams in three years. Both are listed as forwards but were forced to m