What We Learned as Klay Shines in Dubs Pre-Season Finale Loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — The defending NBA champion Warriors closed their preseason schedule Friday night with a 119-112 loss to the Denver Nuggets in front of a sold-out crowd at Chase Center.
On a night when the NBA’s website was down due to an East Coast power outage – forcing the game to go ahead without official real-time stats – the Warriors alternated their best moments with those in which they looked like they could use a little more boot camp.
The game was pretty tight most of the way before Denver’s veteran reserves pulled out taking advantage of sloppy play by a team made up mostly of youngsters from Golden State.
Here are three observations from the pre-season finale for both teams:
Klay’s shot shines in preseason debut
Coach Steve Kerr said in his pre-game press conference that he expects Klay Thompson to play “15 to 16” minutes on his pre-season debut. He played 16, all in the first half.
It didn’t take long for Thompson to make waves either, as he splashed a 3-pointer from right wing on the game’s first possession. He didn’t slow down, scoring 18 points, according to the team’s unofficial website tally, on six shots from range.
Getting more of that is going to take patience, as Kerr indicated it will take a few regular season games before Thompson is comfortably able to hit his usual 34-36 minutes per game.
Golden State’s performance and coaching staff, given the injury history, have charted a slow rise for the shooting guard entering his 12th NBA season – despite missing all of his ninth and 10th seasons while recovering from surgeries to his left ACL and right Achilles tendon.
Kuminga flashes more of her promise
Kerr has spent much of pre-season praising Jonathan Kuminga’s development, saying he adapts quickly to his environment on the pitch. It was quite evident that night.
Kuminga made two trick passes – one of which surprised James Wiseman so much that by the time his hands went out the ball was sailing out of bounds. Kuminga also defended with vengeance and awareness and was selective on shot attempts.
And, of course, he had some powerful dunks. With the departure of Gary Payton II named the team’s sneaky dunker, Kuminga looks like the heir apparent. At the same time, however, JK’s athleticism and physique give him the versatility to replace either outpost.
Kuminga also seems to be adapting to his part-time role as a small-ball center, where he can exploit the clashes. While he struggled to defend the 7-foot reigning two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, Joker couldn’t keep up with JK either.
Where did JK show it was still a work in progress? He made a mistake on the bench.
Draymond and Jordan, an image of serenity
If you were looking for signs of discord between Draymond Green and Jordan Poole, they didn’t worry you much.
Draymond returned to the starting lineup after missing two pre-season games and three practices following his high-profile punch to the face of Poole on October 5.
Poole, who started as a shooting guard in the previous four games when Thompson was on the sidelines, returned to his sixth-man role and looked, well, like he normally does. There were a few exciting moments and a few times he seemed a little uncomfortable.
More importantly, there was no indication of rubbing. They were patting each other before the game, as usual, and seemed to have no problem during the minutes they were together on the pitch.
That’s what’s most important as the Warriors prepare for the regular season opener against the Lakers on Tuesday night at Chase.
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