The Golden State Warriors’ undefeated preseason run came to an end on Friday evening, suffering a 122-117 defeat against Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr promised to limit the starters’ minutes tonight allowing everyone a chance to see some preseason action. He stuck to his word with no starter playing more than 20 minutes, and fourteen Warriors managing to get on the scoresheet to close out the preseason.
With Kevon Looney back for the Warriors, Chris Paul was re-inserted into the starting lineup alongside Steph Curry, Andrew Wiggins, and Klay Thompson.
Victor Wembanyama was the story of the first-half as the French phenom proved to be a handful for the Dubs on both ends of the floor. Wembanyama wreaked all sorts of havoc on the defensive end, his length and fluidity causing problems for an undersized Warriors squad. ‘Wemby’ effortlessly racked up a game-high 19 points and 5 blocks in just 21 minutes.
It’s never a good idea to overreact to meaningless preseason games, but the San Antonio Spurs exposed the Warriors defensive flaws, particularly their lack of size. Never mind the 7’4 outlier in the middle, but Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson put Golden State’s Curry-Paul backcourt to the test defensively, overwhelming them at the point of attack, and forcing them to cover a lot of ground on closeouts.
Not having Draymond Green on the floor obviously limits the Warriors’ capabilities on defense, but the differences in size and length between the two teams on Friday was glaring, and Golden State really has to buy into defending as a unit if they are to reach their potential as a team.
Once again, the Warriors couldn’t shake the turnover bug, coughing the ball up 18 times throughout the game. Part of that can be attributed to San Antonio’s length, but the Warriors were careless with the ball, and their shot selection was subpar. Again, it’s only a preseason game, but these are habits that have to be addressed now so that they become less of an issue down the stretch of the season.
One of the more encouraging takeaways from Friday’s contest was the performance of Jonathan Kuminga, who continued to impress with 13 points, six rebounds, and five assists in 21 minutes.
It’s easy to forget that Kuminga was the seventh overall pick for the Warriors only a couple of seasons ago, and one could make the argument that his development was slightly stunted by a lack of playing time earlier on in his career. It’s clear to see that he’s has come a long way, and the 21-year-old could be primed for a massive leap in his third season.
Kuminga’s offensive game has always been characterized by his athleticism and raw talent, but he now seems to be putting it all together and has made drastic improvements in his playmaking as a result.
Generating rim constant pressure is one thing, but leveraging that defensive attention and creating opportunities for others was always the next step for Kuminga. So far he appears to have taken it, and his progression will be key for the Warriors this season.
The Golden State Warriors will open the 2023-24 campaign at home against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday at 7pm PT.