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NBA Fastbreak: Fixing Warriors’ problems could be long-term project

Warriors coach Steve Kerr is all smiles during a preseason game
Coach Steve Kerr and the Warriors are undergoing a big reboot this season with Kevin Durant and other role players having departed.
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

The Clippers’ staff raved about the new Chase Center locker room. The video boards were incredible. The waterfront location could be on a postcard. And Golden State coach Steve Kerr has been locked out of his office a bunch.

With all the change the Warriors have undergone, rebuilding their team at the same time they moved into their new home, there were obviously going to be some kinks to work out.

They’ll always be able to get Kerr into his office. Their on-court problems? There’s no guarantee they’ll find a key to success.

Following an underwhelming preseason, the Warriors turned in a massive clunker in their regular-season opener. Under normal circumstances, like unlocking Kerr’s office door, you figure things will get fixed.

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Scouts around the league who have studied the Warriors aren’t so sure.

“They’re going to be bad,” one longtime scout said after the Clippers’ 141-122 wire-to-wire win Thursday in San Francisco.

Golden State’s interior defense is non-existent, and a hamstring injury to Kevon Looney on Thursday only made it worse. Willie Cauley-Stein’s eventual return from a foot injury won’t shore it up.

Even longtime Warriors staffers who have been on the ride with the team to five consecutive NBA Finals are prepared for a much longer offseason — a stark departure from life with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green running wild through the West.

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It could be a long season.

“Losing stinks. It’s no fun,” Kerr said. “This is more the reality of the NBA. ... The last five years we’ve been living in a world that isn’t supposed to exist.”

The Clippers might be the best team in the NBA as the league enters its second week and opening night is just one in an 82-game season. And the young players that Golden State is counting on should improve. But the playoffs aren’t a lock. The postseason might not be a probability.

Challenging times

The coach’s challenge rule is less than a week old and the league’s benches are still trying to figure out how to best use it.

The new rule allows coaches to challenge any foul, out-of-bounds and goaltending calls, which are automatically reviewed in the final two minutes of games.

NBA coaches had initiated 18 challenges through Friday’s games. Only five were successful.

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In preparation for the new rule, NBA coaches like Doc Rivers and Kerr spoke with the head coaches of their G League affiliates, where the NBA tested the rule last season. Rivers said Agua Caliente Clippers coach Brian Adams bristled at how Lakers coach Frank Vogel used a challenge in the season opener.

NBA Best Game Ever: Draymond Green talks about his stellar college game when Michigan State won at Gonzaga.

“Frank used one early in the first quarter, and you could hear Brian [say] ‘You can’t use it that early.’ The analytical guys say you should use it whenever you can get one because you’re not going to get many” overturned, Rivers said.

The league rule says there must be “clear and conclusive visual evidence” to overturn a call.

“Right now, I’m just trying to get a feel for it, make sure I know what I’m doing,” Kerr said.

Tip-ins

Former Clipper Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is off to a great start in Oklahoma City, leading the Thunder in scoring with 54 points in two games. … Zion Williamson’s knee injury hasn’t kept the 2019 NBA rookie class from making a big impact early. Charlotte’s P.J. Washington made a rookie record seven three-pointers in his debut. Chicago’s Coby White has been a revelation and No. 3 overall pick R.J. Barrett has been terrific in his first two games. … The G League held its draft Saturday with former Miami Hurricane Anthony Lawrence II being selected first. Former NBA lottery pick Hasheem Thabeet got picked No. 18 as he tries to make a comeback.


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