HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto and The Athletic’s Anthony Slater discussed Stephen Curry’s adjustment to the new rule changes, an injury update on Klay Thompson, the long-term future for Draymond Green with the Warriors, and more. The duo also discussed the chances of a Ben Simmons trade and whether the Warriors will package James Wiseman and Andrew Wiggins later this season. The tandem also discussed Jonathan Kuminga’s role and whether this could be Andre Iguodala’s last season on the latest edition of the HoopsHype podcast.
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1:30 Stephen Curry’s adjustment to rule changes
Scotto: For all the rule changes made, we’ve seen them affect different players and shooting percentages. At 33, Stephen Curry continues to be a guy that’s still at an MVP-caliber level.
Slater: They were in Portland in the first preseason game. I talked with him at shootaround that morning and asked what he thought of the new rule changes. He’s like, “I don’t know. I need to feel it.” He went out that night, and it was a viral clip, when he was out by the wing and pump-faked, jumped into a guy, and the ref didn’t give him the call.
He’s adjusted to it. He’s had a couple of pump fakes where he’s about to lean into a guy, and he’s passed it off. Maybe quicker than James Harden and Trae Young, he’s altered his game a little.
3:13 How Curry went from injury-prone to superstar
Scotto: Remember when he had all those ankle injuries early in his career, and he signed that four-year, $44 million extension? Some people were wondering what was going to become of him because he was always getting hurt. To go from that to being an unquestioned max player at this level, was there a time when Golden State wasn’t sure what he would be or if he would be moved?
Slater: There were definitely trades in the past that he was discussed in. You mentioned the four-year, $44 million extension, which really set up the dynasty because they kept their cap sheet so low they could sign Kevin Durant into cap space, which people forget even though the cap spike helped with that.
Not only did the organization doubt it because of the ankles, but he did. Why would he sign a four-year, $44 million extension? There were one or two offseasons where he focused on how to stabilize his ankles, his hips, and all these different biomechanics he works on with his guy, Brandon Payne, who’s become his offseason guru.
He and his dad say they’re late bloomers from a body perspective. From his belief, his age 30-34 is his prime, and he’s in the middle of his current prime right now.
He’s become a Top 15 player ever.
6:31 Will Stephen Curry be a Warrior for life?
Slater: He’s mentioned Tim Duncan, Derek Jeter, Dirk Nowitzki. Those situations and those careers really appeal to him and the idea of being a one franchise superstar. I think the most sensitive potential situation would’ve been right now if he decided not to sign his extension this past summer. They’re really in a transition phase as a franchise. Ownership is clearly prioritizing the long-term along with winning now. Joe Lacob would argue he’s paying the highest tax bill ever and is trying to win this season.
They also have three lottery picks in the last two years, and they’ve gone teenagers with all three and projects with two of them in James Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga. Lacob has made it clear he’s not interested in trading those guys. He’s interested in those guys bridging into the next decade. That’s a little counterintuitive to what Curry wants. He wants to maximize the next few years. I think there could’ve been, and really behind the scenes, there has been a little friction about that juggling of timelines. Regardless of all that, Curry said he wants to be in Golden State and signed a full five-year max. Now that he’s locked into that one, which will take him into his mid to late 30s, I think he’s pretty dead set on finishing out as a Warriors. His family loves the Bay Area. He will be the number one franchise icon.
9:40 Draymond Green
Scotto: What are you seeing from Draymond now? He was a guy whose name would get brought up in trade talks sporadically here and there.
Slater: The Blazers would love to have him. (Damian) Lillard has been obsessed with getting him there for a while.
Late last season, they went 15-5 down the stretch, and they went small without Wiseman, which fits Draymond. His foot healed, his conditioning was back, the stakes were back. Green kind of needs high stakes basketball to care. He always kind of stinks when his team stinks because he just stops caring.
He went into the summer and stayed in shape because he was in the Olympics. If you talk to him or Steve Kerr, who was a coach, they thought it was so good for him because he’s usually spending the summer getting out of shape. This summer, he was in shape. It’s shown early this season. He’s still his same self defensively. To this very early point, he’s probably the best defensive player in the league because they have worse defensive personnel, but they’re still sixth in the league in defense right now.
13:25 Will the Warriors keep Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green together for the rest of their careers?
Scotto: Once Draymond started going on The Shop more with LeBron James, I think some people wondered if the Lakers would trade for him. It would feel weird if Steph, Draymond and Klay weren’t on the same team together. It would almost feel sacrilege.
Slater: I think Steph will be. Klay is locked in. You’ve got to see how he looks coming off the Achilles and ACL injuries. Draymond has two years left. Like you said, he’s had some flirtations with the Lakers and even the Blazers a bit. His game isn’t quite again like Curry’s is. I’d say if the Warriors lowball him coming off his next contract or whatever happens over the next couple of years, I could see his situation morphing into more of a breakup. That’s not necessarily because he doesn’t want to play with Curry. I think in their ideal world, Draymond, Steph and Klay are chasing titles until they’re all retiring together. I could see Draymond’s situation playing out a little bit more messy than Steph’s would, and the fact that Draymond’s not locked into a long-term deal like Steph is. If another team is willing to give Draymond a contract that the Warriors aren’t in a couple of years, I could see that going differently, even if their dream scenario would be to play forever.
15:01 Klay Thompson injury update
Slater: He looks pretty good. I think it’s a good sign they have him out there when the media is there. If he wasn’t feeling good, I think they’d mostly try to hide him. They could have him work out at different times. He’s only really doing individual stuff right now. Offensively, the shot is pure, and you can see it’s pretty much back. He’s going to come back and immediately be a great three-point shooter. I think some of his movement stuff has been encouraging watching him come off curl down screens. I’ve heard he’s done some two-on-two and very controlled contact stuff. I’d expect him to get back into full practice at some point in the next few weeks or a month or so. I think the floating target is still around the mid-December range. November 25th will be the full 12-month mark from the Achilles surgery. He said he wouldn’t come back before a year. I think you’re talking mid-December at the earliest because they’re being so careful with him. If he’s not feeling fully there yet by mid-December, I don’t think they mind pushing it into the January range. I think, overall, coming from the organization is a level of encouragement with how he looks right now.
16:39 Jordan Poole
Scotto: I projected Poole as a potential Sixth Man of the Year candidate because I figured when Klay came back that Jordan would come off the bench.
Slater: Is there a chance Klay comes off the bench the first couple of games? Sure… In general, Klay is the starting shooting guard. Poole will be a sixth man. His game suits the profile of a sixth man. He’s a microwave scorer off the bench, and have him play a lot of the non-Steph minutes.
19:19 Ben Simmons trade talks
Scotto: There’s always been a bunch of trade chatter about Ben Simmons. I feel like it’s coming more from other teams thinking that he’d be a good fit on the Warriors. When I talk to other executives, they seem to be convinced that despite what management inside Golden State says, Simmons could be a fit for them.
Slater: There are people within the building that would be intrigued by the idea. There’s definitely a contingent that asks how will that fit with Draymond? Simmons could fit in the Warriors’ read-and-react style, but he’d make the most sense in the Draymond role as the pick-and-roll guy with Curry. What matters most is that the guy up top, Joe Lacob, has literally been fined for giving his opinion about not believing in Simmons’ fit with the Warriors. If you talk to him behind the scenes on or off the record, he’s transparent that he’s not giving up the young guys, particularly for a flawed type of star like Simmons. It would have to be a home-run type of thing for them to move off Wiseman or Kuminga.
That package, I’m not sure, fits on Philly’s side of it because they wouldn’t really be looking for young prospects. If you are trading with the Warriors, you’re pretty much saying give me one or both of the young lottery picks. Joe Lacob has this dream that goes beyond this season. It’s about the next decade and this idea of continued relevance. He values Kuminga and Wiseman and their futures more than other teams do right now. That’s where there’s a line of demarcation and why I don’t see a fit with the Warriors.
22:13 James Wiseman versus LaMelo Ball debate on draft night
Slater: That was a wild day because not only was it sitting there at No. 2, but at that point, you didn’t know if it was going to be Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, or James Wiseman, and there were different offers coming in. Chicago was thinking about trying to flip No. 4 and Wendell Carter Jr. That’s also the day Klay Thompson tore his Achilles that morning. That bomb dropped about 90 minutes before the draft.
The general consensus at the top of that draft room was Wiseman to the point that Minnesota was trying to threaten that they were going to draft him so the Warriors would try to flip No. 2 for No. 1 and give Minnesota its pick back, which became Kuminga. The Warriors thought at the time they needed a center badly and athleticism. Wiseman fit as this future pick-and-roll lob threat with a lot of guard skills at times.
LaMelo, at this point in retrospect, would clearly have been the right pick. Not only because he’s much better at this point than Wiseman has shown to be, and that can change, but LaMelo also fits the Warriors’ style.
At this point, I think we can categorize it as a mistake. I think it’s a little like Deandre Ayton did last year by making the Suns’ decision to not take Luka Doncic look as bad. I think the Warriors hope that Wiseman over the next 24 months has an Ayton-type of developmental curve where it doesn’t seem like Marvin Bagley versus Doncic, but more like Ayton over Doncic.
25:46 Jonathan Kuminga’s role and future expectations with the Warriors
Scotto: I remember going into the draft and talking with executives that some people thought Kuminga could go as high as fourth overall. Some around the league felt that years down the line, that could be the guy that turned out to be the best player in the draft. It’s going to be tough for him to do that in this situation because he’s not going to get a ton of playing time early.
Slater: Draymond Green was like, “This guy’s got vision that I didn’t know he had.” He’s making some passes, but he’s very turnover-prone. He’s a willing three-point shooter, which I think is a good thing, and he wants to get it to a good level, but he looks like he profiles as a 31 percent three-point shooter. That needs to grow for him to reach his potential. He needs a lot of reps and is a high usage player. Some of that is going to come in the G League this year.
I do expect potentially an extended stay in Santa Cruz (G League) to play some games where he can get his rhythm back. As for his role this season, I think there are going to be moments where they can use him. Maybe that’s when there are frontcourt injuries. They’ve talked about him more like a four than a three, particularly in a small-ball universe.
29:50 Andre Iguodala’s future
Slater: The only place his career would continue next season would be with the Warriors. The only way it’ll continue with the Warriors is if the season ends well for him… Steve Kerr has said, when they lost him a couple of years ago, they lost part of the soul of the team, and it’s back.
They’re going to selectively give him a lot of rest. I think one out of every four games they might just deactivate him because the truth is they need Andre Iguodala for the stretch run and the playoffs. If he’s fresh, has a good stretch run, looks good in the playoffs, the Warriors go to the second round or the Western Conference Finals, and he feels good at the end of the season, I could see him coming back. I think he’s also fine with retirement if it comes to him.
32:53 Kenny Atkinson update
Scotto: Kenny got hurt. I heard he got hurt playing ball. He played ball last year with the Clippers in practices with them. Is there any update on his condition?
Slater: It’s part of why they hired him. He’s not only analytics, but he’s out there guarding Klay during workouts, chasing Curry around screens. He’s in his 50s. During one of these workouts, he injured his leg to a pretty serious degree to where the expectation is it has to be immobilized for maybe a month or so. He can’t be on the front of the bench for the next month and can’t be doing his workouts and injecting that energy and life into the building. He also works privately with Kuminga. They’ve tasked him with his development. He’s going to still be around giving his opinions, which are valued in the building.
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You can follow Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) and Anthony Slater (@AnthonyVSlater) on Twitter.