SAN FRANCISCO – With not one but two abrasive, chest-beating, trash-talking All-Stars, the Warriors have no need for pregame flames off the tongue of coach Steve Kerr.
Draymond Green and his new teammate, Chris Paul, are two dry sticks in the forest. Rub them together for 82 games and there ought to be enough fire to rage beneath the Warriors through next April and beyond.
Stephen Curry welcomes what’s ahead with two teammates opponents might describe as “Evil Twins.”
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“For sure it will help us internally,” Curry said at Media Day on Monday at Chase Center. “Understanding the vibe in practice, the sense of accountability, and making sure all the energy is put towards winning.
“And then if those two guys can focus that energy on the court when it comes to games, doing exactly that, making everybody hate them and making us love them, I know they can keep each other accountable to that energy, as well. That's going to make a huge difference and give them an edge and give us an edge.”
That “edge” was missing all too often last season, particularly on the road and against inferior teams. Golden State was 11-30 away from Chase Center and a combined 0-6 against the lowly Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Hornets and Orlando Magic.
Golden State Warriors
There were times when Kerr would take the blame, saying he “didn’t have the team ready to play.”
There were times when Draymond said it was “my fault” that the Warriors lacked intensity.
Under this roster, with Green and Paul bringing the heat, the days and nights of lethargy should be a thing of the past.
“It's going to be wonderful,” Gary Payton II said. “We don't have to worry about Chris on the other side doing, bothering us with his antics, and Draymond bothering him. They can bother the other guys now. I'm glad they are on my side and excited to get on the court with them and cause havoc.”
Green and Paul play provocative basketball, pushing and bending the rules in pursuit of gaining an advantage. They badly want to win, but it’s nearly as important to cause disruption and achieve psychological benefit.
“Draymond and CP, they are the players you hate to play against, but you love to have them on your team,” Andrew Wiggins said. “They are dogs. They are very intelligent, and they know how to get under the other teams’ skin, their weaknesses. Getting a chance to play alongside both of them is going to be very special.”
Both decorated veterans, Green and Paul have such similar temperaments that as opponents they were match and fuse. No matter which jersey Paul wore – Golden State is his sixth team – Draymond quickly grew to detest it.
“If you've ever watched Chris compete, he's kind of an a--hole,” Green said. “He may say the same thing about me, and that's OK. But he's also one of the most competitive guys that I've played against over my 11 years in this league.
“I'm also an extremely competitive guy, and I'm not backing down from anyone, he's not backing down from anyone. That will bring some clashes, and it has brought plenty of them.”
CP3, his 18-year NBA career sliding toward its conclusion, seems eager to combine all that stored energy in one place, for the same cause, as teammates.
“The one person I wish I would have got an opportunity to play with my entire career and I never did was Kevin Garnett,” Paul said of the famously fierce Hall of Famer. “And that's because the first three times I played against KG, we both got double-techs because we both played with the same intensity. I never really played other than sort of Tyson (Chandler) and D-West (David West).
“But I never really played with big men that protected your guards, you know what I mean, where you don't have to get into s—t. You know what I mean? I just sort of did it myself.
“I'm excited, even though the way it's been for years and whatnot with Draymond, I'm excited about being on the same team with him.”
It’s not as if the Warriors suddenly will become the West Coast version of the Detroit Pistons of 30-years ago, who relished in being referred to as “Bad Boys.”
Those teams had a longer list of players opponents despised.
The Warriors have only two. In this era, that should be enough. If they channel it properly, it should be welcome.