After an impressive NBA title run in 2022, the Golden State Warriors suffered through a tumultuous 2022-23 season that ended in a second-round playoff exit at the hands of LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. They almost didn’t even get that far, as Golden State needed a 50-point Game 7 performance from Stephen Curry to avoid a first-round loss to the upstart Sacramento Kings.
With the wound still fresh, the Warriors made significant changes this offseason, most notably swapping Jordan Poole for veteran point guard Chris Paul. So far the fit has been “seamless,”, and Paul gives the Warriors a fresh look throw at defenses.
Reflecting on the postseason disappointment, Golden State head coach Steve Kerr said on Friday that his team needs to be able to better adapt when things aren’t working.
“The Lakers exposed us,” Kerr said. “We were not a very well-rounded team last year. So, you know, thinking about that series, watching it. They bottled us up defensively and we didn’t have a counter. We’ve got to make sure we have counters this year.”
After averaging over 115 points per 100 possessions during the regular season, the Warriors mustered just 110 in their six-game loss to the Lakers. Curry averaged just under 27 points per game in the series, but shot a substandard 44% from the field, including 34% from 3-point range. The only other players on the team to average double-digits were Klay Thompson (16.2) and Andrew Wiggins (15).
Poole was notably terrible in the series, averaging 8.3 points on 35/25/75 shooting splits in nearly 21 minutes per game. The Warriors hope that replacing him with the steadying force of Paul will help provide a proven response when the offense is struggling.
Another issue that Golden State faced against the Lakers was a lack of size. James and Anthony Davis met little resistance inside, as the Warriors allowed an average of nearly 50 points in the paint and over 14 second-chance points per game for the series. Draymond Green, who tends to spend a lot of minutes as the Warriors’ undersized center in the postseason, spoke on media day about the Warriors potentially adding size to the roster, either before the season or during.
“Lakers are huge. Like, that’s who we lost to,” Green said. “So if you look at someone and you’re like, this is who we lost to, where do we need to improve? Probably need a little bit more size. Doesn’t mean we’re necessarily going to lose again if we don’t get the size, but it may help. So we’ll see where it goes.”
As things stand as of Friday, offseason acquisition Dario Saric is the tallest player on the roster at 6-10, followed by Kevon Looney, rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis and veteran Rudy Gay, all standing 6-foot-9. There seems to be a conversation nearly every season about the Warriors’ quest for another big man, and generally they resist. But Golden State is under a new regime with the departure of Bob Myers and the the promotion of Mike Dunleavy Jr. to general manager, so perhaps he’ll be more aggressive in trying to acquire some size.
Either way, it’s clear that the loss to the Lakers caused the Warriors to take a long look in the mirror, and the offseason changes in personnel — and possibly tactics — appear to have been a direct result.