Last season, rookie head coach Mark Jackson introduced himself to the Bay Area media with a bold prediction that his Warriors would make the playoffs for the first time since the We Believe team shocked the NBA world in 2007.This year, Jackson has avoided any guarantees. But Stephen Curry thinks that his coach is just as confident as he was a year ago.Ask his wife or his family, they probably heard him saying we're going to the playoffs this year, Curry said Monday at Warriors media day. He'd probably say it to us, you know we're going to get there, so that will never change and that's why we do what we do.Even though Jacksons preseason statement last year put pressure on his players, Curry appreciates the confidence his coach exudes.He made us believe that we were going to make the playoffs last year when we heard him say that, Curry said. You want your coach to have confidence in you, especially a first-time coach who knows what this roster is. So to have that much faith in us, that does go a long way in the locker room.Curry, as one of the teams captains along with Andrew Bogut and David Lee, is ready for a bigger leadership role in Jacksons locker room. He even said hes ready to scream at teammates if necessary.They know that we're going to have an atmosphere in our locker room that guys can take criticism, take encouragement and make each other better, Curry said. So we're not going to be a sensitive team or when one guy yells and somebody holds grudges. Everybody is sick of losing so something has got to change and we've got to figure out how to make each other better throughout the process of the season.Veteran Richard Jefferson thinks that the maturation of the Warriors young core is crucial if the team wants to end its lengthy playoff drought. So whose job is it to help the players focus on the task at hand?It's Coach Jackson's job, it's my job, it's mainly their job, Jefferson said. How seriously are they going to take this after losses, after wins? Are you letting it shrug off your shoulders because you only won X amount of games over the last couple of years. No, it's how serious you take this, how much of a profession you make this. Are you in every single day taking shots whether you went 10-for-10 or 0-for-10? That's what it means to go to the next level.Does Jefferson see that level of commitment from his teammates?Yes, but only time will tell, Jefferson said. Everyone right now is undefeated and for the most part everyone is healthy. Everyone is in the playoffs. So right now it's very optimistic and rainbows and butterflies and unicorns. Where we are at the All-Star break and where we are with 25 games to go, where we are at the end of the season, that will kind of let us know what we've learned.Other than maturity, Jefferson believes that the health of the Warriors new-look roster will go a long way in determining their fate this season.I think it's an improved team, but you have to stay healthy, Jefferson said. You never know what can happen. I played with Andrew Bogut one year in Milwaukee, Michael Redd tears his ACL, and this was a guy that didn't miss many games in his career. Bogut obviously had his back injury. So we had a really good team on paper, but then some key injuries happened and we weren't able to accomplish our goals. So staying healthy is half the battle.Bogut and Curry are the big question marks health-wise heading into the season, but both expect to play in the Warriors first game on Oct. 31 in Phoenix.Right now it's about being healthy, Curry said. I have no concern about plays as long as I'm out there on the floor. Just being present; can't help the team from the bench. But team-wise, we're not guaranteeing anything. We're not going to say we're better than we are. Our goal is to make the playoffs; that should be every team's goal. You build on that, winning championships and all that. So we're just trying to make the playoffs and take it from there.
There is a single reason teams keep sniffing out the availability of Klay Thompson, and it’s far more easily understood than the myriad reasons the Warriors keep telling them no.
No fewer than four teams have either reached out or considered reaching out, the latest being revealed as the detested Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Warriors, of course, declined them, perhaps after general manager Bob Myers put Cavs GM Koby Altman on speakerphone so everybody at Warriors HQ could double over with team-building laughter.
The Cavs got the same answer as was previously heard by the Pacers and the Timberwolves, and maybe even the Celtics, whose interest was rumored though never actually substantiated.
All four teams, though, along with maybe few others, all reached the same conclusion. They looked at the Warriors, studied their prime core, and concluded that Thompson was the most available member.
Clearly more available than Stephen Curry, who is the face of the franchise.
Likely more available than Draymond Green, whose two-way versatility and temperament are vital to the grand ambitions of the Warriors.
And infinitely more available than Kevin Durant, who arrived two years after Minnesota shot its shot -- by dangling Kevin Love -- and evolved into their most impressive overall player.
So it’s Thompson who gets his tires kicked. He’s 27 years old, has two years remaining on his contract and, most germane, seems to be the least emotionally invested star in the organization. That is may not be true, but it’s an easy conclusion based on appearances and the misguided thought that the Warriors don’t value him as much as they do the others.
“It's really cool,” Thompson said Wednesday, referring to being pursued and prized. “It shows the Warriors believe in me and these other teams want me to be a part of their success. So I appreciate it. I've been in trade rumors forever. Everyone has. Except for maybe LeBron James, Steph — well, even Steph early in his career.”
Any team that asks about Thompson is aware that the Thompson-Love deal gained considerable traction in 2014 before it was vetoed by then-adviser Jerry West and newly hired head coach Steve Kerr.
If the Warriors were thinking about it then, why not later?
They have their reasons, beginning with the fact they’ve experienced more success over the past three seasons than at any time in franchise history, winning two championships in three seasons and becoming a regular in the NBA Finals. Why even consider breaking the squad that so clearly is the cream of the NBA?
Another reason is that the Warriors have come to fully understand Thompson’s role in their competitive prosperity. He’s a gunslinger that manages to be highly productive without spending much time with the ball, and his fabulous defense makes that end of the court so much easier for Curry. The Thompson-Curry backcourt is the best in the league and already in the discussion for the best ever.
There is another component that is rather understated. Thompson is the ultimate zero-maintenance All-Star. In a locker room of varied personalities, some loud, nearly all opinionated, he’s like a breeze that is cool enough be felt yet never so much it feels imposing.
The Warriors have come to appreciate Thompson being the closest thing to a wind-up All-Star in a league where that is exceedingly rare. Give him a jersey, a ball and some shoes and let him go.
So, no, he’s not leaving anytime soon. The only way he goes before he becomes a free agent in 2019 -- at which time he’s likely to take a peep around the NBA -- is if the Warriors somehow take a tumble in the standings or try to low-ball him.
Until then, teams may continue to ask. They have to as a strategy to improve themselves while diminishing the league’s powerhouse. Understanding this, the Warriors will take the calls and appreciate the humor of it all.
Stephen Jackson is known as one of the biggest characters in Warriors history.
The 14-year NBA veteran always let you know what he was thinking. Some things never change.
Jackson, now playing for the Killer 3s in the BIG3, was awarded the league's Best Trash Talker award on Wednesday.
Serving as the Killer 3s co-captain with Chauncey Billups, Jackson is currently leading the league in scoring. At 39 years old, Jackson is averaging 21.6 points per game over 31.7 minutes per game.
In four seasons with the Warriors, Jackson poured in 19.4 points and 5.0 assists per game. Over 14 years in the NBA, he averaged 15.1 points per game.
Former Warriors big man Al Harrington was voted Too Hard to Guard with his 15.3 points per game.