Steve Kerr’s plea to Chris Paul ahead of Golden State Warriors debut

Golden State Warriors, Chris Paul, Steve Kerr. Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
Golden State Warriors, Chris Paul, Steve Kerr. Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports /

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr addressed the media yesterday ahead of the Dubs’ season-opener against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.

Among other topics, Kerr was asked about the Warriors’ key new addition in Chris Paul, and his integration with Golden State’s offensive system throughout training camp and preseason.

Steve Kerr says he appreciates Chris Paul’s willingness to adapt to the Golden State Warriors, but has been imploring the veteran point-guard to “be himself.”

"“I feel like [Chris] has gone out of his way to fit into what we do which is a sign of his respect for the game and for his teammates,” Kerr told reporters. “The last couple of preseason games were good for him because he’s starting to get more comfortable and I’ve been telling him too like, we need him to be himself too not just to blend in with what we do.”"

Golden State’s acquisition of Paul in June was immediately met with mixed reactions, though the logistics have always made sense on paper. Paul is a veteran point-guard who fits the timeline of the Warriors’ core and counterbalances Golden State’s free-flowing style of offense with a more measured, methodical approach.

While their motion-heavy offense is one of the most difficult to scheme against, turnovers tend to be a natural byproduct of the Warriors’ unrelenting player and ball movement. Golden State has ranked bottom ten in turnovers per game in nine of the last ten seasons, and last year the Warriors finished dead last in turnover rate, coughing the ball up 16.3 times a game.

Trading Jordan Poole, who finished fourth in the NBA in turnovers per game last season, for Paul, who boasts the best assist-to-turnover rate in NBA history, was meant to dial that number back. While the move has yielded mostly positive results through training camp and preseason, Golden State’s glaring turnover issue has still persisted.

Through five preseason games, Golden State eclipsed 17 turnovers four times and ‘CP3′, one of the most efficient ball-handlers of all time, recorded an uncharacteristic 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio (24 assists to 12 turnovers) in his four games played.

While it’s encouraging to see Paul configure his style of play at this stage of his career to fit what the Warriors do — running the floor in transition, seamlessly flowing from one half-court set to another — the Dubs need Paul to operate like only he knows how.

As coach Kerr has eluded to many times this summer, the Los Angeles Lakers exposed the Warriors in their second-round matchup during last year’s playoffs. Golden State’s offense proved far too one-dimensional to handle LA’s size and length defensively. But the insertion of Paul’s pick-and-roll-heavy approach should compliment the Warriors’ traditional offense and give opposing defenses a completely different look to consider.

Stephen Curry and Chris Paul of the Golden State Warriors in action during the preseason. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Stephen Curry and Chris Paul of the Golden State Warriors in action during the preseason. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The integration process has only just begun, and Draymond Green is yet to be added to the fold, but CP3 will be encouraged to play his game, and he’s got the pieces around him to do so.

Assuming Paul will come off the bench when Green returns from injury, the ‘point god’ will have plenty of pick-and-roll weapons at his disposal. Dario Saric, who played with Paul in Phoenix, is a versatile big who can spot up outside and make plays on the roll, while Jonathan Kuminga and his incredible athleticism presents as a vertical threat at the rim. The floor will be spaced with shooters occupying the wings, and Paul will have more than enough room to operate his way.

"“It won’t be a perfect fit for a little bit of time because, with any new player, it takes time to incorporate the new player and for the new player to feel comfortable with everything, but the process has been great and we’re on a good trajectory,” Kerr continued."

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Paul will likely start against his former team for the season opener, with veteran forward Golden Draymond Green a confirmed out as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury.