Salient advice for the Warriors fan

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Salient advice for the Warriors fan

Mark Jacksons first pre-camp presser happened Wednesday and it was full of the usual high-minded projections about the new, improved and potentially glorious Warriors.

It was quite the show.

But the nagging question, the one that wont be answered, is whether this Warrior team can go from 23-43 (which pro-rates out to 28-54) to 46-36, which is the average number of wins for the eighth-place team in the Western Conference over the last decade.

Forty-six. The one time the Warriors reached the playoffs, they won 42, including the game Dallas threw to them to insure they got into the playoffs so they could smack the Mavericks in the first round. It is one of the great ignored parts of the We Believe season -- that there would have been nothing to believe in if not for Dallas misplaced hubris.

But we digress.

This Warrior team is much changed -- Andrew Bogut, a populous draft, Stephen Curry claiming his foot faces the correct way again, a full year of the Jackson regime under their belts.
RELATED: Mark Jackson talks all things Warriors

But does that justify playoff plans? Given this teams history of disappointing, or failing outright, one would be a fool to think so.

And while we dont wish to spoil anyones delusions before that have fully bloomed, let us offer an alternative to bubbly hope:

The willingness to be happily surprised.

The Warriors are probably not 18 games better than they were a year ago, because they havent been 18 games better than they were in the previous year in almost a quarter-century. Eighteen games is a lot.

So lets take a more realistic stance and say they should give a go at .500. Thats 13 games, which is still a nice jump, but it is not extraordinary. It has the added benefit of being something the Warriors havent done very often in the last 30-plus years, so it would be a dramatic offer of improvement.

And improvement is what ought to be sold here. The problem, of course, being that improvement isnt much of a hook for a team that rarely engages in it.

You see, Joe Lacob doesnt get to be Joe Lacob with a .500 Or Bust slogan. .500 doesnt get you into the Top 8. As we showed you, .549 doesnt get you into the top eight.

So never mind what the Warriors might be saying about the postseason. Your sights should be adjusted to a more sensible level, not because you should settle for .500, but because if the Warriors dont make the full 18-game jump, youre going to start thinking that changes need to be made.

And the biggest problem the Warriors have exhibited throughout most of the last 20 years is a hyperkinetic throw out the baby, the bath, and the bathroom approach to franchise building.

They just did it again this past year. New general manager, new coach, another new general manager, blockbuster trade, and bitching about injuries.

Well, that last one is a constant. Hey, you cant change everything every year.

But the Warriors come close. Twelve coaches, eight general managers and three ownership groups in 17 years, that close. Everybody is a hurry to put their stamp on the team, and all they end up doing is stamp on the team.

So the one thing that hasnt been tried here is common sense. Not by the team; it cant be seen to look like the playoffs arent the goal. But for the fan base that isnt blinkered to reality, a gentler place for its expectations should be found.

And, if the Warriors end up with the 13-game improvement rather than the 18-game improvement, that level of common sense should trickle up as well. This season should be a referendum on the coaching staff only if it stays at 28 wins, or worse, the 23 wins it actually achieved in last years truncated season. If the Warriors remain the flat, featureless meh-fest they have been, then another round of change can't be defended. Otherwise, no.

But theres one more reason why expectations in September should be leveled. The We Believe team won the areas hearts because it was such a surprise; even coach Don Nelson declared them dead in February that year. They literally leapt from the crypt to make their mark in a way that almost no 42-win team has before, or since. And you all had a ball watching them do it.

So let them give it a try again. Expect less, and be ready to enjoy more if it happens. No playoff success is better than the kind you never saw coming, a truth you just relearned last year with the 49ers. Expectations bring angst, and bitterness, and overthinking -- a truth you are relearning this year with the Giants.

So Mark Jackson can say what he likes about this Warrior team, but you will be better off cooling your own internal jets on them. The playoffs are too big an ask, and if it turns out that it wasnt, I told you so, wont win you as many friends and good times as Man, I never thought that could happen.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Warriors guard Livingston begins turnaround after shooting dry spell

Warriors guard Livingston begins turnaround after shooting dry spell

OAKLAND -- Amid the recovery mission that followed the absence of Kevin Durant, as every Warrior eventually pitched in, Shaun Livingston stood virtually alone as someone who wasn’t doing his part.

The Warriors, and Livingston, would like to believe that is about to change.

When Livingston made 3-of-4 shots in a 112-87 rout of the Mavericks on Tuesday night, it was the first time he shot higher than 50 percent on multiple shots since Feb. 28, the day Durant went down with a knee injury.

“You go through slumps,” Livingston said after practice Thursday. “Fortunately for me, I’ve played long enough to know. You keep shooting. Keep pushing forward, good things will happen.”

As the Warriors lost that game at Washington, and four of the next six, Livingston’s usually reliable midrange game disappeared. In the first 10 full games since Durant was sidelined, Livingston shot 18.8 percent (6-of-32).

So his teammates did the heavy lifting. Andre Iguodala excelled as the steady vet. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green dipped and then came hard. Stephen Curry climbed out of his rut and started dancing again. The big men -- Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee and David West -- were titanic. Pat McCaw, Ian Clark, Matt Barnes and James Michael McAdoo filled in the gaps.

They had to, because Livingston the most reliable shooter on the team was nowhere to be found.

“We all want to play the best that we can,” Livingston said. “But the reality is it doesn’t work that way all the time.”

On Tuesday, for the first time this month, Livingston looked like himself. He was the guy who shot 55.6 percent in October, 54.4 percent in November, 57.6 percent in December, 58.9 percent in January and 54.1 percent in February.

“It was good for Shaun to see the ball go in the rim,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s had such a great year shooting the ball, and then the last couple weeks he hit a dry spell. Which is going to happen to everybody.”

The “dry spell” was shocking, because it was Livingston. He’s in the final weeks of his third season with the Warriors, and throughout that time there was only one month in which he shot less that 49 percent (47.5 in March 2015). Signed in July 2014 to be the team’s No. 3 guard and primary backup to Curry, Livingston is shooting 51.9 percent in his Warriors career.

The Warriors would like to think he’s ready, once again, to do his part.

“Last game was good for him, just to make a few and see the ball go in,” Kerr said. “I’m confident he’ll get it going.”

Warriors forward Matt Barnes 'trying to kill' the Kings

Warriors forward Matt Barnes 'trying to kill' the Kings

The Kings waived Matt Barnes during the All-Star break.

Less than two weeks later, he signed with the Warriors.

On Friday, Barnes will square off against Sacramento at Oracle Arena.

"I'm trying to kill 'em," he told the San Francisco Chronicle's Connor Letourneau on Thursday. "Simple."

In 54 games (13 starts) with the Kings this season, Barnes averaged 7.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists while shooting just under 33 percent from deep.

His final game in a Sacramento uniform came against the Warriors on Feb. 15. He registered 15 points and 14 rebounds.

"Things didn't go well there," Barnes added. "They're the enemy now."