SAN FRANCISCO — Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green admits that after a summer full of transition and roster turnover, the first week of training camp has been “different,” as the organization tries to find a new rhythm without key pieces such as Kevin Durant and veterans Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.
“A lot different,” Green said after Friday’s practice at Chase Center. “But it’s fun, though.”
The Warriors come into the new season looking very different from the team that lost to the Toronto Raptors in last season’s NBA Finals. Durant signed with the Brooklyn Nets, Iguodala was shipped off to the Memphis Grizzlies to clear cap space and Livingston retired. In their place came D’Angelo Russell and a slew of unproven young players. As camp rolls along, Green acknowledges just how much all the changes have manifested on the floor.
“Just the lack of familiarity,” Green said. “You get used to a certain thing for so long, and then it’s not that. The normal reads that you would make, just kind of second nature, you got to make sure they’re there. It’s just a lot more making sure everyone’s on the same page, or getting there. Everybody’s not on the same page, which is to be expected, so just getting everybody there is the difference.”
With All-Star swingman Klay Thompson out until at least the All-Star break in February, Green and superstar guard Stephen Curry have had to carry even more of a leadership role than normal. Green is confident the new-look team will find its chemistry sooner than later.
“It’s time,” Green said. “It’s reps. Just kind of getting those reps. Figuring guys out, getting to know each other. That’s a huge part of basketball, too, getting to know each other. … That will come with time. It’s no tough love right now. You figure that stuff out as time goes on. But none of us really know each other, except a few. So you can’t give a guy you don’t know tough love, that’s fake as hell. If you’re going to give somebody tough love, you don’t even know if you love that person or not yet. So you can’t give somebody tough love at this point, you just got to teach ’em.”
Green said there’s been even more teaching in practice than usual — both from the coaches and the veteran players like himself.
“A lot more teaching,” Green said. “For us guys who have been here for a while, it’s a little difficult some of these practices. But that’s the reality of [the situation], you kind of knew that coming in. So we’re kind of playing the players’ role but also coaching a little bit as well, too. The coaches, they’re definitely approaching this a little differently, which is to be expected.
“You can teach some things about basketball, but you can’t really teach IQ. You can teach people what to do — however, this seems to be a pretty smart team. There’s not really any idiots. Some teams you’ve got some idiots. It’s not really any idiots [here], so that’s good. Everybody seems to be able to think a little bit, so that’s great.”
Nick Friedell previews the Warriors’ upcoming season, saying the perennial contenders are embracing their newfound role as an underdog.
The Warriors’ first test regarding those new lessons comes Saturday night in their preseason opener against the Los Angeles Lakers. The game also marks the first game held in Chase Center, the Warriors’ sparkling-new billion dollar arena. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said he’s looking forward to seeing how loud the new arena is compared to Oracle Arena, the organization’s home for the last 47 years in Oakland.
“I think mainly the noise,” Kerr said. “It’s hard to judge on a preseason game, but it feels like they did a really good job keeping the seats as close to the floor as possible. Some of the new arenas feel so vacuous, and this feels pretty intimate. I think we’re going to have a really loud atmosphere in here, but we’ll see.”
Both Kerr and Green discussed how challenging the move from Oakland to San Francisco has been for everybody in the organization. Kerr said he spent part of Thursday with his wife, Margot, looking for a new veterinarian in San Francisco for the family dog.
“Figuring out your routine,” Green said of what to expect in the team’s new home. “All that stuff. But at the end of the day it’s a basketball gym, it’s an arena. We’ve played in a million arenas. I’m not going to be like, ‘Oh my God, a new arena.’ It’s all the other stuff that y’all don’t see and figuring that out. As opposed to getting out here [to the floor]. That’s the easy part of it. … I feel like a rookie all over again. Just trying to figure my life out. You know, moving, where to go, or how to beat traffic. I feel like a rookie all over again. This training camp has been interesting from that perspective for me. I haven’t felt like a rookie in a while. I feel like a rookie.”
As far as the game itself, Kerr noted starters like Green and Curry wouldn’t play regular minutes against the Lakers.
“Not much more than 20,” Kerr said. “If that.”