SAN FRANCISCO – The greatest source of comfort in NBA training camp is not how many shots are made or blocked, or which team wins the scrimmage. It is harmony.
The Warriors are six practices deep in camp and feel great about the chemistry. Veterans and youth express a sense of unity, which fosters growth, which in turn generates faith.
“It was good,” Moses Moody said Tuesday. “The energy has been electric. It’s been a lot of fun. Guys are communicating. Being around each other even before training camp started kind of sent us in the right direction.”
Credit to the team’s collective thought. General manager Mike Dunleavy addressed it last summer by acquiring veterans Chris Paul, Dario Saric and Corey Joseph. And by drafting mature basketball recruits Brandin Podzemski and Trace Jackson-Davis.
Jordan Paul, after three seasons with Golden State, was traded to the Wizards for Paul. Paul was both brilliant and frustrating, and at times would get into his own show, even at the expense of his teammates. This tendency always creates a means of dissonance.
Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Ryan Rollins went to Washington with Paul, and both were starters last season. Essentially, the Warriors traded three of the remaining five players from their drafts between 2019 and 2022.
The team is getting older and wiser. Suddenly, training becomes easier, conversations run smoother, and man-to-man discussions are more likely to reach a satisfactory resolution.
“It feels like we’re a really high IQ team,” coach Steve Kerr said. “And they show it early.”
Adding Paul, Saric and Joseph to a core of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Kevon Looney gives Golden State eight players — seven in the rotation — with at least seven years of NBA experience.
Furthermore, there is a degree of stability that comes with a roster of players who have been in the league and approach the game in similar ways. The Warriors under Kerr emphasize ball movement, a system that suits the new vets’ skills and mentality. Paul’s electric moments were often risqué and tended to emphasize the individual scene. Paul, Saric and Joseph are low-risk players who usually link up with their teammates.
Teamwork is the word at this camp. It’s easier for everyone to feel good when everyone is recognized and involved. This has been the basic feeling since the first camp exercise on October 3.
“It was amazing,” Kuminga said. “It’s been a tough training camp, but it’s good for us. We’re not just getting fit. We’re getting better. The goal is for everyone to be prepared, to know what each person likes to do on the floor and then go out on the floor as a team and win it all.”
His relationship with Green was one of the initial concerns in the wake of the Ball acquisition. There was, as opponents, clear contempt between the two angry men. As teammates, they are two veterans with similar minds.
The belief within the team is that they will find a place on Earth that satisfies both of them and ultimately will benefit the team greatly.
“There’s really good chemistry in their relationship,” Kerr said. “They spent a lot of time together in the summer, both in L.A. and here, playing pick-up. These guys connected really well.”
“This is going to be a case of two incredibly smart players learning how to play together. They occupy a similar portion of the floor. When they’re in the pick-and-roll, Draymond is going to need to dive. The good thing is Draymond already understands that. I don’t even have to tell him. “
This is what high IQ players are about and are team players first. And they discover it among themselves. The coach rarely has to intervene or even mediate.
We don’t know how well the Warriors will perform once games start. Neither do they. What they did know, two weeks before opening night, was that the collective attitude was positive, which is essential to anything good.
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