Warriors discovering identity, path to greatness sooner than expected

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Josh Schrock
·3 min read
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Warriors discovering how great they can be sooner than expected originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Steve Kerr was honest before the season started, noting that the Warriors would probably look better a month or two into the season than they would on Opening Night.

Kerr was tempering expectations for a team that spent last season out of the spotlight with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson injured. He wanted to make it known that while many were excited for the Warriors to re-take center stage, they were far from a finished product.

And yet, back-to-back blowout losses to the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks had every NBA prognosticator from the Bay to Bangor, Maine, proclaiming the Warriors as a Western Conference doormat.

But true to Kerr's prediction, almost one month and 12 games later, the Warriors are quickly figuring it out.

The latest step in Golden State's dynasty reboot project came Wednesday night when the Warriors laid a 121-99 beatdown on the San Antonio Spurs at Chase Center, just two nights after they erased a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to beat the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.

"I think that was our best game," Kerr told reporters after the win vs. the Spurs. "Our best two-way basketball game we've played all year. Our defense was excellent, we put a lot of pressure on them, stayed really solid, rebounded well. Then, at the other end, when you're forcing misses offense becomes a lot easier."

Since those back-to-back blowout losses to open the season, the Warriors' defense has steadily improved which has been a key factor in the 8-4 stretch.

"The first couple games, I don't even count them," Kerr said. "We weren't ready and we were kind of a mess. Since that time our defense has gotten better. We still have a lot of work to do, but tonight I thought it was our best overall effort of the year."

At 8-6, the Warriors now rank fifth in the Western Conference and have played the second-toughest schedule in the NBA to this point behind only the Memphis Grizzlies.

With each passing game, the Warriors figure out the team they are supposed to be. Curry and Draymond Green are learning to play with a new supporting cast. The feeling-out process has led to a few ugly moments, but a light has started to click for the Warriors, who have wins over the Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers in the early going.

Rookie center James Wiseman had a career night in the win over the Spurs and has been able to respond from subpar outings. After two putrid games to open the season, Andrew Wiggins has been the picture of consistency. Kelly Oubre Jr. finally appears to be emerging from a horrific slump, notching 16 points on 4-for-11 shooting in the win over the Spurs.

RELATED: Wiggins silencing all doubters with Warriors

The Warriors are in a good spot 14 games into the 72-game season. They've had moments that were hard to watch, but have found their footing and are in a good position to become a real threat in the Western Conference over the next 58 games.

While the win over the Lakers signaled that the Warriors could beat anyone, it was Wednesday night's beatdown of the Spurs that showed Curry the Warriors are growing.

"Tonight was a sign of maturity," Curry said after the win. "We obviously didn't play well in the first half of the LA game. To play well in the second half and then carry that momentum into tonight's game -- we always talk about the good teams can show it from time to time, but when you're working toward being a great team, you have sustained excellence on both sides of the floor. Tonight was that."

The Warriors are figuring out who they are and gaining confidence with each passing game. Just imagine what they can become over the next 58 games.

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