SAN FRANCISCO — Riding a six-game losing streak entering their matchup Monday night against the Houston Rockets, what the Golden State Warriors need, coach Steve Kerr said, is more practice.
“We need some practice time and kind of sharpen some things up,” Kerr said before tipoff.
The losing streak, longer than any they had last season, has been a trying stretch of basketball. Without Steph Curry for two games, and with Draymond Green missing his third straight Monday serving a five-game suspension, the Warriors’ offensive rating has sunk to fourth from the bottom of the league over the six-game skid.
They entered Monday night at 6-8, in 10th place in the Western Conference.
Kerr chalked up their early struggles to a feeling-out period, as he attempted to trim down his rotation.
“The biggest thing with this team now is there hasn’t been separation in terms of the nine or 10 guys who are going to play night after night,” Kerr said. “By my count, if we’re healthy, we’ve got 12 guys who are not only capable but maybe deserving of rotation minutes.
“And that’s a good problem to have, but because there hasn’t been separation, we’re also kind of mixing and matching and trying to find combinations that make the most sense. We’re gathering data, gathering tape, but we do need to settle in on our top nine or 10 and go from there.”
Golden State has 11 players averaging at least 15 minutes per game, while rookie Trace Jackson-Davis and Cory Joseph have also seen considerable floor time.
But after Curry, who is averaging 30.3 points per game, the Warriors don’t have a player scoring more than Klay Thompson’s 14 per game, which would be the lowest mark since his rookie season. Andrew Wiggins, despite his breakout Saturday night, is averaging a career-low 12 per game.
“We’ve got a really good roster,” Kerr said. “But we’ve just got to figure it out.”
Despite being lottery picks three years ago, Kuminga and Moody have yet to establish themselves as permanent rotation pieces.
In the case of Moody, who scored in double figures in both games Curry missed, Kerr said he believed he had earned more playing time. But newcomers Chris Paul and Cory Joseph also need floor time to get acquainted, and Thompson isn’t going to take a seat because of one cold snap.
“He’s played really well. He just has such a great approach,” Kerr said of Moody. “But there’s a lot of factors as to why he hasn’t. Some of that is we’re trying to get Klay and Wiggs going. Some of that is we’re trying to play some other guys as well and see what those combinations look like.”
Kerr believes his patience will pay off with Thompson, just as it did with Wiggins, who erupted for a season-high 31 points Saturday night.
“You look at Klay and Wiggs early on, they both have struggled. But I’m of the opinion that we’ve got to show some patience because we know what they are,” Kerr said. “Look at Wiggs the other night, he looked great. I think our patience has been rewarded. I think you’re going to see a different Wiggs from here on, and I think the same thing is going to happen with Klay.”
The Warriors haven’t had much time on the practice court since the regular season started, but that will begin to change soon.
With only three games this week, they’ll get in two practices, Kerr said. And the week after that, they have only two games.
By then, perhaps a tight, nine- or 10-man rotation will have emerged.
“Sometimes it’s really clear and it just happens, and then other years it’s not as clear and you have to experiment and you have to give guys opportunities,” Kerr said. “It’s really hard when you’re losing to decide on your top nine or 10. … It’s a good sign, though. It’s going to mean there are some people who are unhappy, and that’s how it’s going to be how it goes.”
Curry closes in on more history
Nobody is as synonymous with the Golden State Warriors than their sharpshooter extraordinaire, and soon nobody will have worn the uniform for more minutes on an NBA court.
If Steph Curry logs his season average of 33.2 minutes per game Monday night against Houston, he will pass Nate Thurmond as the franchise’s all-time leader in minutes played, adding to a list of accomplishments that includes the most 3-pointers in NBA history, four NBA championships and a unanimous MVP.
Curry needed 30 minutes to pass Thurmond, who totaled 30,729 over 11 seasons with the Warriors from 1963-74.
Thurmond, who died in 2016, was inducted to the Hall of Fame and named alongside Curry on the NBA’s 75th anniversary team, averaging 15 points and 15 rebounds over his career, which began as the No. 3 overall selection in the 1963 draft. Remarkably, he averaged 40.6 minutes per game, racking up enough time on the floor to hold up as a franchise record for 49 years, a number it took Curry 15 seasons to reach.
A little further down the list are Curry’s championship-winning companions, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
In sixth place, Thompson is about 500 minutes — or about 17 games’ worth — away from passing Rick Barry. Despite a two-year absence, Thompson holds a slight edge on Green, who is a little further away — about 1,500 minutes — from passing Jeff Mullins for seventh all-time.