Warriors observations: Podziemski impresses in win vs. Lakers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
The NBA preseason is less about winning than building cohesion and developing chemistry, both of which will involve considerable experimentation.
The Warriors will find many lessons upon reviewing video of their 129-125 victory Friday night over the Los Angeles Lakers at Crypto.com Arena.
Coach Steve Kerr, after drawing a hard line between starters and reserves in the preseason opener last week, took a few liberties with his rotation, occasionally putting second-unit member to share the court with starters. The results were mixed.
Stephen Curry was sharp, pouring in 18 points in 21 minutes, adding four assists and three rebounds. None of the starters played more than the 22 minutes put in by Klay Thompson, who finished with eight points, three rebounds and two assists.
Here are three observations from the second of Golden State’s five preseason games:
Paul struggles in his specialty
Chris Paul’s 18-year career pretty much defines the offensive role of the traditional point guard. He’s a capable scorer, but his primary function is controlling tempo and ensuring the stability of the unit. That’s his bag.
CP3’s bag had a hole in it in this game.
Perhaps the league’s foremost practitioner in ball security – he always ranks among the best in the NBA assist-to-turnover ratio – Paul committed five turnovers in 20 minutes. Some were related to miscommunication, but a couple simply were beneath his standard.
Some of the errors are the natural result of playing his second game with new teammates. There will be mistakes, even among veterans, because it’s part of the learning process. Kevin Durant and Curry didn’t begin to mesh until the Warriors had played about 25 regular-season games.
Expect Paul to make a quick transition. He’ll figure it out because he always has – and he has been with five previous teams. There is no need for panic – not yet.
Defense looks familiar, and not in a good way
The Warriors were 11-30 on the road last season and perhaps nothing deserved more blame than their defense. It was as if they’d leave it at Chase Center before boarding busses to the airport.
That troubling tendency carried over to the first preseason game.
The Lakers rang up 70 points in the first half, which was significant because it was mostly against Golden State’s rotation players. LA shot 54.8 percent from the field, including an astounding 55.6 percent beyond the arc. Credit good shooting, to be sure, but much of the production was against a defense that alternated between soft and sloppy.
Yes, another issue that plagued Golden State last season – too many fouls – also resurfaced. The Warriors were whistled 27 times, the Lakers 19. LA posted a decisive 37-26 margin in free-throw attempts.
Though rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis committed four fouls in his first two of 11 total minutes trying to defend nine-time All-Star Anthony Davis, some of the vets also got in on the action. Chris Paul had four fouls in 20 minutes, Kevon Looney had three in 11.
Kerr has said several times that tightening the defense is the key to regaining contender status. Missing Draymond Green (left ankle sprain) is a factor, but there is a lot of work to be done.
“Podz” submits impressive performance.
Halfway through the preseason Warriors coaches and veterans have been impressed with rookie Brandin Podziemski’s approach to the game and his sense of timing and placement. They were on display Friday night.
The guard they call “Podz” or “BP” has a way of getting to gaps and seeing things in real time that benefit his team. Playing mostly with the second unit, he recorded six turnovers in his first nine minutes.
Podziemski raised eyebrows with a pass that whistled through LA’s defense and into the hands of a cutting Gary Payton II, who snagged it and turned it into an easy dunk.
Podziemski finished with 10 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and zero turnovers in 26 minutes. Through two preseason games, he has produced 21 points, 14 assists, 12 rebounds and two turnovers in 52 minutes. He finished a team-best plus-16 Friday night.
He’s not expected to get much NBA run this season, but the Santa Clara University product is showing why the Warriors believe he is a keeper.
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