After losing the services of Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, coupled with Klay Thompson being out for perhaps the entire season as he recovers from ACL surgery, everyone knew this Golden State Warriors team wasn't going to be great. But, man, we might have to start entertaining the idea that the Warriors might be downright bad.
The Warriors were clobbered by the Clippers, 141-122, in their season opener on Thursday -- not exactly the grand opening they were hoping for in their fancy new San Francisco digs. The 141 points the Clippers threw up pretty much tells the story of Golden State's defense, which was a disaster from start to finish. But don't be fooled by that 122 number you see next to the Warriors' name, because the offense was a pretty big mess, too.
After the game, Steve Kerr -- who throughout training camp and the preseason was very transparent about his, shall we say, limited expectations for this Warriors team -- once again sang an ominous tune.
“This is not a one off. This is the reality. There are going to be nights like this, this year,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) October 25, 2019
Kerr, again, is doing his level best to manage expectations for this season. He already got ahead of the Klay Thompson situation when he said Klay is "unlikely" to play this season, which was a shot of harsh reality for a fan base banking on a late-season surge with Klay back in the lineup, and now Kerr is basically telling fans to gets used to what they saw Thursday night, because there's a lot more where that came from.
Unfortunately, it looks like Kerr might be right. You don't want to make too much out of one game, especially against the Clippers, who are just way out of the Warriors' league, but the writing is on the wall. The defense is a mess. Glenn Robinson III is the starting small forward who was tasked with guarding Kawhi Leonard. It was a microcosm of the talent and experience deficit at which the Warriors are going to be operating most nights this season.
Take out Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and D'Angelo Russell, and you might think you're watching a Summer League game. And even Russell is far from a capable savior for the second-line of this team. His defense, in fact, only adds to the main problem. There is a legitimate conversation to be had about whether Kerr will ever give in and just give the ball to Curry and let him create offense in one-on-one and pick-and-roll fashion, but against the best teams, that likely won't be enough anyway.
Curry had two and even three defenders drawing to him like a magnet all night Thursday, and that's going to be the way it goes all season long with nobody else on the team, including Russell, who truly scares defenses. When he gives up the ball, it's difficult for him to get it back with all that switching, double-teaming defensive attention coupled with mostly subpar passers on the floor with him. The Clippers are a great team, and a great defense, but still too many possessions ended on Thursday with Curry running around trying to get open as Kevon Looney and Robinson and Jordan Poole launched 3-pointers and Draymond Green dribbled into mid-range pull-ups.
Giving one guy the ball and letting him go into hero mode doesn't sound like much of a plan, but it might be all the Warriors have unless they intend to simply bag the season. I've already written this a few times and I'm going to continue to say it: Stephen Curry is capable of things only a few players in NBA history have been capable of. He can single-handedly warp defenses and turn otherwise limited offensive players into producers with his on-ball gravity. But he has to be put in a position to have that impact. It likely still won't be enough to make the Warriors anything more than a team scraping to win 48-50 games at best, but it's better than what Golden State looked like on Thursday.