OAKLAND (AP) — Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr approached Andre Iguodala during the preseason to discuss a somewhat radical idea he wanted to try out.
Kerr asked Iguodala how he felt about being the team’s top reserve and Harrison Barnes starting ahead of him at small forward. Iguodala, who had started all 807 games he played in his first 10 seasons in the NBA, wasn’t thrilled about the idea but agreed to go along with the experiment.
Kerr thanked Iguodala for accepting the role and named him a team captain alongside Stephen Curry this season.
“It’s kind of a sacrifice. Sometimes you want to be selfish, you want to get your shots. You want to make sure you get your minutes,” Iguodala said. “Honestly, we’re all human. I go through times where I want to do this, I want to do that. But being a captain, I think about that and seeing the bigger picture — what are we trying to do? Where are we trying to get to?”
The situation is a perfect example of what Kerr expects out of the Warriors: unselfish basketball without worrying about individual accomplishments.
Kerr has gotten players to embrace that philosophy, rolling out a new offense and a new rotation that are working wonders for the Warriors so far. Golden State is 3-0 for the first time in 20 years, and Kerr is the franchise’s first coach to begin his career with three straight wins since Neil Johnston did it to start the 1959-60 season.
Kerr said he has been proud of the way his players have accepted his way of doing things, which could’ve been complicated after the team fired popular predecessor Mark Jackson following a 51-win season and back-to-back playoff berths. He’s also quick to note that the season is just a week old and his rotation is far from flawless.
“We’re trying to find the right group together,” Kerr said about the second unit. “I feel like we’re sort of treading water right now, but eventually I think we’ll be able to make a surge with that group.”
What has pleased Kerr most is that the Warriors are still winning while adjusting.
Power forward David Lee has missed all three games because of a strained left hamstring. He expects to return when the Warriors host the Clippers on Wednesday night in a rematch of last season’s first-round playoff series won by Los Angeles.
Reserve guard Shaun Livingston, the team’s top free agent signing this summer, is playing limited minutes while working his way into shape after missing all of the preseason recovering from surgery on his right big toe. And backup center Festus Ezeli is still finding his rhythm after sitting out last season rehabilitating from right knee surgery.
Even with roles and responsibilities still being cemented under Kerr, the Warriors look like the contender many expected them to be in the deep Western Conference.
“It says a lot about the guys we have on this team from top to bottom that no matter what situation you’re thrown into that you can somehow produce and allow things to happen,” Curry said.
One of the most recognizable changes the Warriors have made under Kerr is an offense that has more ball movement, breaking away from the isolation-heavy system Jackson used the past three years.
Kerr’s style has flavors of the triangle offense from his days playing for Phil Jackson in Chicago, the pace-and-space attack of mentor Gregg Popovich in San Antonio and the up-tempo schemes assistant coach Alvin Gentry employed during their time together in Phoenix.
The defense, which was among the best in the NBA under Mark Jackson, has remained stout — and the all-around game has given Golden State positive results.
The Warriors whipped Sacramento 95-77 on Wednesday, routed the depleted Lakers 127-104 on Saturday and won 95-90 at Portland on Sunday.
“We’re going to continue to get better. We’re going to continue to grow,” Iguodala said. “There’s going to be some ups and downs. Having a year under my belt with this team is going to help weather the storm when things don’t go the way we want them to.”