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Golden State expects growing pains with addition of Durant
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OAKLAND (AP) — Steve Kerr fully expects plenty of growing pains for the Golden State Warriors as Kevin Durant finds his way on a new-look, superstar roster.
He is guarding against any big predictions about his All-Star group led by two-time reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry and Durant and a supporting cast featuring All-Stars Draymond Green and Klay Thompson alongside new center Zaza Pachulia.
Yes, they’re loaded .
And there are familiar faces from the Warriors who won an NBA-record 73 games last season — and then went out and added prized free agent Durant. Sure, this group should win 74, right?
“In the NBA you never know what you have until it’s there,” Kerr said. “You can think you know what you’ve got and obviously we’ve got great scoring on this team out on perimeter and three of the best shooters in the world. That bodes pretty well, but there’s lots of other stuff that comes along in this game. ... There’s no guarantees in anything. Pieces have to fit. We’re confident that it will work out well.”
By now, the Warriors are used to the spotlight. They got everybody’s best last season.
“There’s no more pressure than there was last year,” Curry said. “Coming off trying to defend the regular season that we had, getting to Game 7 of the Finals, that was so much fun. It’s what you live for. It’s what you play for. This year we’re as confident as we were last year. But it will be a different journey.”
Here are some things to watch with the Warriors, who are still stung by their Finals loss and ready for more:
KD’S LEARNING CURVE: Everything is still new for Durant, and he hasn’t been shy about sharing the challenges he faces joining a new franchise for the first time.
“It’s going to take some time. I want things to happen so quick, that’s just how I am,” Durant said. “I’ve got to be patient with everything.”
That Nov. 3 date with Oklahoma City at Oracle Arena will be a big deal as much as Durant might try to downplay facing his former Thunder for the first time.
“It’s different here. It’s fun here. It’s fun playing where I was before. That book is closed,” he said. “I’m looking forward now. All I’m focused on is how we prepare here every single day and how we have fun here every day. It’s not a knock on Oklahoma City, it’s not a knock on my past teammates or organization. I’m looking just forward, I’m not looking backward.”
ADJUSTMENT FOR DRAYMOND: Kerr has spoken to Green about how his role could shift when he doesn’t touch the ball as often on offense but is still counted upon to lead the defensive energy. He has been runner-up for NBA Defensive Player of the Year the past two seasons.
Green’s 13 triple-doubles last season were a single-season franchise record.
“In many ways he is the key to making this work because he’s the key to our defense and all of a sudden he’s going to be touching the ball a little bit less often,” Kerr said. “That’s just simple math because KD is going to get the ball a lot more than Harrison (Barnes) did. Steph and Draymond will probably have the ball in their hands a little bit less. It’s good for our team but these guys are human.”
Curry led the NBA in scoring at 30.1 points last season, shattered his own record for 3-pointers with 402 and became the first unanimous MVP, then he dealt with a knee injury through the playoffs. He is healthy and eager to be even better.
“We can get a little bit more creative with how we go about things with the half-court with the options we have,” Curry said. “It’s going to be fun.”
Kerr knows it’s his job to make sure it all works.
He has spent the preseason getting a feel for the various lineups — “I think Steph probably knows he’s not hitting 400 3s this year,” Kerr quipped.
Kerr was sidelined for the first 43 games last season while dealing with complications following two back surgeries and missed his team’s record 24-0 start, with Golden State going 39-4 without him.
Kerr and general manager Bob Myers believe all will be fine going forward with the third-year coach’s health.
New top assistant Mike Brown , who replaced first-year Lakers head coach Luke Walton, presented Kerr with a substitution pattern the Warriors are trying.
The idea calls for two starters to stay on the court at all times, barring foul trouble or matchups altering the plan.
“It’s going to be a fun process,” guard Andre Iguodala said. “That’s what I’m looking forward to the most. The finished product is always cool, but the process of getting there is actually the fun part.”