Kerr era begins as Warriors take on Kings
(SportsNetwork.com) - There's a buzz by the bay with the San Francisco Giants headed to Game 7 of the World Series and there's also some optimism brewing for the area's Golden State Warriors.
The Giants are trying for their third World Series title in five seasons. The Warriors haven't won an NBA title since 1974-75 and will open this season on the road against the Sacramento Kings Wednesday night.
Golden State has reached the playoffs in each of the past two seasons and bowed out to the Los Angeles Clippers in seven games in the first round. Led by the strong trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and David Lee, the Warriors are hoping the 2014-15 season will be a special one.
Steve Kerr replaced Mark Jackson as head coach in the offseason and opted for the west coast over a chance in the Big Apple with the New York Knicks. Curry talked about the different coaching styles and if the team can adjust.
"Somebody asked me the other day, 'Is it to easier to deal with a coaching change or a personnel change?' When you have chemistry with guys going into a season, having that established, it makes it a lot easier when you all go through the transition together. We can adjust quicker, I think ...
"When you have that experience with each other over the last two, three years, it's a lot easier to adjust to a tweak here or there."
Curry led the Warriors in points (24.0), assists (8.5) and steals (1.6) last season. Thompson and Lee averaged 18.4 points and 18.2 points, respectively, while Andrew Bogut led the way with 10.0 rebounds. Bogut and Lee both played less than 70 games last season and will try to stay healthy for the haul.
However, Lee is bothered by a hamstring issue and guard Shaun Livingston is out to recover from right toe surgery.
Thompson played in 81 games and could have a breakout season. Thompson and Curry are coming off a FIBA Basketball World Cup championship this summer. Harrison Barnes played in 78 games in 2013-14 and averaged a career-high 9.5 points to go with 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists.
Some other key players this season will be Livingston, Leandro Barbosa and Andre Iguodala.
"I know we've got great players and great chemistry and everybody's pulling in the same direction," Lee said.
The Warriors hold an all-time record of 29-39 in season openers and have won three of their last four in Game 1. They are starting on the road for only the second time in 13 years.
Expectations aren't very high for Sacramento and haven't been for some time.
The Kings have missed the playoffs the last eight seasons and went 28-54 in 2013-14. The added some firepower in guard Darren Collison and rookie Nik Stauskas. Stauskas was named the 2013-14 Big Ten Player of the Year after averaging 17.5 points and shooting 44.2 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore.
Sacramento lost guard Isaiah Thomas to Phoenix in a sign-and-trade deal.
There are high hopes for guard Ben McLemore in his second season and he played in all 82 games in 2013-14, posting an average of 8.8 points.
But Sacramento's big guns are center DeMarcus Cousins and forward Rudy Gay. Cousins has all the talent in the world and can be one of the best big men in the game with a clear mind. Along with Gay, Cousins polished his craft with a FIBA championship this summer and the led the Kings in points (22.7), rebounds (11.7), steals (1.5) and blocks (1.3) last season.
"I learned a lot from (the World Cup) and it was an incredible experience," Cousins said. "I felt I added a lot to my game, especially defensively. I have the confidence to know that I really can do it on the defensive end, as well as the offensive end."
The Kings are hoping everything falls into place and they can make a run toward a rare postseason berth. The team is built around youth and health is always a factor for any team, especially for Kings head coach Mike Malone.
"I'm not going to say we're going to win X amount of games. I'm not going to promise a playoff berth," Malone said. "My hope is we can play to our potential every night."
Sacramento, which should win at least 30 to 35 games this season, have won three of their last four season openers. The Kings are 15-14 in season openers and 23-6 in the first home game of the season, going 12-1 when the home game is a season opener.
The Kings are 15-1 in home openers since 1998-99, the best winning percentage in the NBA during that span. They are opening the 30th season in Sacramento.
Golden State took all four meetings with Sacramento last season.