Kurtenbach: The Warriors can’t answer basic questions, and that tells you everything

Kurtenbach: The Warriors can’t answer basic questions, and that tells you everything

It’s a simple question for which the Warriors have no answer:

What are you good at?

Or here’s another way to ask it:

What can you count on, night after night, to help you win games?

We’re nearly halfway through the 2023-24 season. The NBA’s trade deadline looms in three-and-a-half weeks. The Warriors don’t have a good answer.

We should know by now if these Warriors had an appreciable skill. We’ve seen enough of them to have seen it.

But so far, the only answer anyone can give is “Steph Curry.”

That’s a player, not an answer. And one guy sure as hell isn’t a quality team. The Warriors’ sub-.500 record should have explained that.

We know the Warriors aren’t athletic compared to their peers.

And we know they can’t play a lick of defense these days, either, as Draymond Green — back after his 16-game suspension — noted postgame last night:

“You gotta have pride in yourself as a man that I’m not gonna let my guy score,” Green said. “Our closeouts [were] too soft. Our rotations were too slow. There’s just no pride. Until every guy takes pride in themselves and wants to stop the guy in front of him, we’ll suck.”

I’m not sure pride is the issue here, but sure — it can’t hurt to have some.

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The Warriors — whose offense defined an entire era of NBA basketball — are also no longer remarkable on offense.

In Golden State’s loss to what was effectively the Grizzlies’ G-League roster on Monday afternoon (you have to be a deep SEC basketball dork like me to know who GG Jackson is), it was clear that the offensive focus has shifted for the Dubs. Tired of clunking 3-pointers and skipping the ball around the perimeter, they would attack the bucket.

And it worked. The Dubs scored more than half their points in the paint.

Until it didn’t.

The Warriors know it’s bad policy to be a shoot-first team with a roster of streaky, middling shooters. Credit for not playing the roundball lottery and playing with some force on offense.

But when the Warriors needed buckets down the stretch in the fourth quarter, those shot attempts near the hoop came up fruitless again and again.

Scratch off “strong finishers” from the list of possibilities.

The Warriors used to be able to hang their hat on being an elite assist team. That’s no longer the case. They are, however, still one of the league’s best at turning the ball over.

And while this team is pretty good at rebounding, I’m not sure that’s something you lead the resume with.

Maybe they’re just old and washed up.

But that doesn’t explain Brandin Podziemski, Jonathan Kuminga, and Trayce Jackson-Davis.

In 2019, Kerr said his team’s identity was “back-to-back champions.”

It was a non-answer that answered the question.

But there’s no answer to the same question today. The Warriors wore out all the laurels they had been resting upon.

I’m sure we can all think of negative answers to the question “What’s the Warriors’ identity?” but the lack of a single positive one is jarring, given how this organization isn’t looking to scrap this team for parts. No, the Warriors want to move some of their current pieces for a better one that will help Curry win now and in the future.

That sounds like wishful thinking to me.

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Perhaps the far-fetched nature of this front-office goal is perhaps a passive acknowledgment of the truth — some self-rationalization for an operation in decline.

After all, who can you acquire that will lift this entire Warriors team to a point of excellence in just one area?

What player is available for the Warriors that will provide this team a soul?

I don’t see one out there.

The only player with that kind of power might be Green, who has only played 16 games this season. He’s not trustworthy, but he is a force of nature that can infuse a team with an identity and lift it on offense and defense.

Well, at least the Green I once knew and loved to watch play was that kind of player.

I’m not sure what the new Draymond is just yet.

And isn’t that fitting for this team?

The Warriors now have less than two weeks to figure out how they’ll start winning games on the regular.

This is the time for not just shifts, but radical ones.

The status quo will be a direct path to this season being over by the Giants’ home opener.

Turn the Dubs into a pick-and-roll team on offense. Go crazy with the zones or full-court pressures on defense. There’s talent on this team — surely there’s something they can be, collectively, good at.

Kerr needs to figure it out fast. Because if the Warriors on the court don’t do something drastic to turn this season around, then something drastic will be done upstairs. And with how this team plays, there’s no telling how big the shakeup could be.