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

Ex-Warrior rips Thunder for not defending Westbrook after Pachulia incident

Ex-Warrior rips Thunder for not defending Westbrook after Pachulia incident

Late in the first half of Wednesday night's game against the Thunder, Warriors center Zaza Pachulia made hard contact with Russell Westbrook, sending the Oklahoma City star sprawling to the ground.

The referees reviewed the play and gave Pachulia a flagrant foul.

Replays show Pachulia appearing to stand over Westbrook and none of his Thunder teammates coming to his defense.

Raja Bell, a 12-year NBA veteran who was briefly a Warrior during the 2009-10 season, was not happy with the reaction of the Thunder players.

"You are supposed to come flying across the court. You don't have to punch him, because that's a lot of money. But he should catch a forearm across his shoulder, a shove in the back, you ain't gonna knock down Russell Westbrook, the everything to the team I'm playing on, who feeds me, who makes me better, you ain't gonna do that and just stand over him and ice grill him. Not a chance," Bell said on Thursday during the NBA Crossover show on CBS Sports.

The incident started a war of words between Westbrook a Pachulia following the game.

"I don't know. He hit me kind of hard. But it's alright. I'm going to get his ass back. Straight up," Westbrook said when asked about what happened on the play.

He was then asked if he noticed Pachulia standing over him.

"I didn't see that until just now, but I don't play that game. I'm going to get his ass back. Whenever that is, I don't know, but I don't play that game," Westbrook said.

Pachulia responded to Westbrook's comments moments later.

"I can't worry about that kind of comment. I'm part of an amazing team and we have a great goal of winning a championship. I'm all in with my energy, 100 percent. So we're thinking about this team, staying healthy, moving forward, getting better, getting to the playoffs and playing for the championship. That's what I'm thinking about. I'm not thinking about those kind of comments.

"That team is not there, so they may be thinking about other stuff like getting me back. Okay, you can get me back. But again, it's my 14th year, we all know what my game is, to play hard, not dirty. If it was a hard foul, it was a hard foul. It wasn't dirty at all. I'm not worried about this," Pachulia told the media.

LeBron considering return to Team USA under 'great mastermind' Popovich

LeBron considering return to Team USA under 'great mastermind' Popovich

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- LeBron James might make another run at Olympic gold with Gregg Popovich.

James, who already has two gold medals, said that Popovich taking over as coach of the U.S. team will influence his decision on whether to play in the 2020 Tokyo Games.

"It factors a lot," James said Saturday as the Cavaliers prepared to host Popovich's San Antonio Spurs. "I've said that before. He's just a great mastermind of the game of basketball."

James skipped last summer's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro to get rest after leading Cleveland to an NBA championship. But he's still connected with Team USA and Popovich replacing outgoing coach Mike Krzyzewski could be enough to draw James back to the Olympics.

James will be 36 in 2020, but his game is showing no signs of decay and the three-time NBA champ has relished his previous Olympic appearances. He was a key member of the American teams that captured gold in Beijing (2008) and (2012), performances that helped him and the U.S. squad erase some of the disappointment from taking bronze in Athens (2004).

Krzyzewski, the Duke coach who led the U.S. team to three consecutive gold medals, had a hand in naming Popovich as his successor.

For James, the pick was perfect.

"Team USA is in good hands with him," James told The Associated Press in 2015. "It was in good hands with Coach K. It's almost like 'The Godfather.' We hand it off to Michael Corleone now."

Earlier this week, James said he considers Popovich, who has led the Spurs to five NBA titles, "the greatest coach of all time. I've said that over and over and over. You have to be sharp, mentally and physically, when you go against his ballclub. If you were an NFL player, it's probably the same as going against a (Bill) Belichick team.

"What they're going to do, they're going to do and you have to try to figure it out."

James has lost twice to teams coached by Popovich in the NBA Finals - in 2007 with Cleveland and in 2014 with Miami. He admires the way the 67-year-old coach has adjusted and adapted over the years.

"A guy that's been able to do what he's done in an era of basketball where it's changed so much and he's been able to have a growth mindset and be able to change with the game," James said. "Obviously Tim Duncan was a huge part of that because Timmy was allowed to change with the game as well, but he's just continued to build around Timmy and Manu (Ginobili) and Tony (Parker) and bring pieces in and out throughout his whole tenure."

On Saturday, the Spurs will play their first game without center Pau Gasol, sidelined indefinitely with a broken left hand.

James said that won't change San Antonio much - because of Popovich.

"It doesn't matter who is in the lineup for the Spurs," James said. "They'll play Spurs basketball and Pop will have them ready. I mean, what's their record, 33-9, I believe? And if you asked me how things would change without Timmy D., they still pushing forward, man. It's just nothing out of the ordinary."