How will Warriors respond to early season woes, Steph Curry's injury?


Editor’s note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors reporter, will take you inside the Dubs as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #askkerith


This is a strange mailbag to write, because I did not request #AskKerith questions after Steph’s injury. I felt sad, and I can predict what you want to know: Will he be OK, how long is he out, is the season lost, will they tank, etc. The first question is “yes, with time” and the rest, I don’t know.

I’m sitting with the emotional blow of all of this. Steph’s broken hand joins Klay Thompson’s ACL injury and Kevon Looney’s neuropathy and Jacob Evans’ adductor strain. This is an awful toll, and tonight is only Game 5 of the season.

Maybe I can answer, “Is the season lost?” Time spent learning is never lost, and that’s what the young players will have to do. They have more responsibility and minutes hoisted upon them. That’s tough. No opponent cares. The Warriors embraced their "Super Villains" domination. Now, they’ll get a taste of the lumps they inflicted on other teams.

This season will be about getting stronger through struggle.

“It's a great opportunity for these young guys to play ... but it's also a little bit too much,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game Wednesday.

The baptism by fire came soon, at a scorching temperature.

Game On!

@GoldenGriffinX3 what is the energy of the squad like? Do they seem like they are building through this or just going through the motions? Too early to tell? #AskKerith #DubNation

The energy after Steph’s injury was subdued. There was a lot of processing. The team already was dealing with the reality of how different this season will feel and all the reasons they started so poorly. Then a wallop came. 

There is good energy. I get to see the bench up close during games. The communication is flowing in a positive way. The young guys get along in games, in the locker room and on the bus. They’re already settling into natural friendships. When you care about the man beside you, it’s easier to get through tough things together.

@KimChau28 Why is Kerr not encouraging his players more, instead of telling them to get used to losing after game 1? Why not simplify the offense til the young guys knows how to run it? He can’t run the same system w/this team.

I think you’re talking about Steve saying “this is not a one-off” after the season opener against the Clippers. Steve was reminding the guys this is reality now. He’s not discouraging his players. He was recalibrating the expectations for them and a fan base spoiled by the best span in recent NBA history.

The Warriors went to the NBA Finals five consecutive times. They won three championships, including back-to-back titles, and they probably would have won last season if injuries didn’t severely cripple them. They had a 73 win-season to set a new regular-season record. They nearly swept their way through a postseason, finishing 16-1 instead in 2017.

These things are not normal. Fourteen teams in the NBA last season finished with less than 40 regular-season wins. As the Warriors come down from their history-making stratosphere, Steve is relaying what’s more typical in the NBA experience. Get ready.

@DallasF69305898 Gsw most improved player? #askkerith

Jacob Evans. He nailed four 3-pointers in the first game of the season, and you could see the confidence he was bringing to games. All the work he did in Santa Cruz and the time he spent with the Dubs during the playoffs last season was paying off. 

It's a bummer that progress goes on pause while Evans deals with the adductor (groin) strain.

@Michaelosfc Damion Lee had a great game (versus the Pelicans), can we see some more playing time from him in the near future?? #DubNation

Before Steph’s injury, the answer was yes. Now the Warriors need him even more. Damion had a spectacular game against the Pelicans, rolling to the first double-double of his career with 23 points and 11 rebounds in 28 minutes. 

Don’t underestimate Damion’s mettle. He’s 27 years old and has overcome two ACL tears and a broken hand to scrap his way to time with the Dubs. I’m impressed with his assertiveness. Stepping up while Steph is out could be a big moment for him.

@yohdah Any chance of Bogut returning to help with height and D?

Highly doubtful. He’s on contract again with the Sydney Kings to play this season, so he would not be available until late in the NBA season. Who knows what the Warriors’ needs will be in March? Last season, he re-joined the team specifically for the playoffs.

Via instagram @tomzemach23 Do you think the Warriors can bounce back and make the playoffs?

I got this question before Steph’s injury, and here was my answer in the first draft of the mailbag: “I believe any group anchored by Steph and Draymond will be a playoff team, provided long-term injuries don’t bite them.”

I understand the panic fans are feeling. It’s unclear right now how long Steph is out. And overall … yeah. The playoffs are in jeopardy. 

@houseofannie Is there merit to the idea of tanking this season to get LaMelo?

Talking about tanking is delicate. While a high draft pick for the future is beneficial, Game 5 out of 82 is tonight, and the players are living in the present. No one wants to lose, or make a pattern of it.

Losing sucks. Prolonged losing hurts the pride, and it’s contrary to what the Warriors believe in. I’m curious to see how Draymond Green responds to the first reporter who brings up tanking.

High Five

Kelenna Azubuike is the first podcast guest for Logan and me. Our conversation comes out Nov. 7. We asked Kelenna about his playing days, his injuries, and following Jim Barnett in the broadcasting booth. Stay tuned!

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @warriorskerith, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors coverage all season.

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