After a slow start, are the Warriors youngsters in for drastic changes?

  • Editor’s note: NBC Sports Bay Area Warriors reporter Kerith Burke introduces you to the team throughout the season as only she can with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter and Instagram, @KerithBurke.

Before Monday night’s game against the Sacramento Kings at the Chase Center, the Warriors are 7-3 after a horrendous 5-0 away game. Golden State has yet to beat a team with a winning record, and they have yet to win away.

That’s a crazy start for the defending champion. The most popular questions for the Mailbag had to do with trades, who will advance minutes and how the Warriors could leverage the G League. Let’s jump in.

The word panic would only come into play if the team couldn’t see why they got off to a bad start. But they know why: defensive mistakes, a struggling second unit, missed box-outs, stagnant ball movement, turnovers and fouls.

There’s a lot to show and it’s all connected. The theme after the road trip was responsibility, with everyone looking in the mirror to make sure they were doing their part to play harder and smarter.

Teams always have more patience than those looking in from the outside. The Warriors take a “give him time” approach, provided that it’s backed by a genuine commitment from all players to improve.

James Wiseman is the backup. It’s his time, that’s why they drafted him. It’s not pressure, it’s their expectation. Wiseman wants to be able to take the reins from Kevon Looney one day.

With that in mind, I doubt the Warriors will add another big one that would ultimately cost Wiseman minutes and potentially stun his growth after a losing 2021-22 season. Instead, the Warriors invest in Wiseman under the guidance of Looney, Draymond Green and development coach Dejan Milojevic.

The Warriors are also turning to so many small ball lineups that they can go without another center and even survive the patches Wiseman struggles in, assuming everyone is healthy.

Regarding Andre Iguodala, the Warriors won’t be giving away his roster spot. When he decided to postpone retirement for another year, the consensus was that he might not play much this season (he played in 31 regular-season games last season), but his worth in the dressing room is an asset. He teaches young players to become professionals.

Iguodala will retire at Golden State. He has built respect and admiration and deserves a solemn farewell when his career ends. The front office won’t drop him when looking for a short-term patch.

Wiseman takes time and repetition. Growing pains aren’t called that for nothing. Some things hurt to watch.

In particular, his understanding of defensive rotations, powerful screen setting, and aggression on the edge are things that he needs to work on.

No one is immune to criticism when they deserve it. It’s fair to say that Wiseman is struggling. He has minus 69 plus/minus ratings overall when he comes into play on Monday. Plus/Minus isn’t a perfect stat, but it does indicate that Wiseman was down when the Warriors were surpassed. He’s part of the problem with scoring the second session.

Social media gets ridiculous when it comes to Wiseman, especially when the conversation shifts from valid criticism backed by statistics to mean comments like “he’s trash” or “broke.”

It’s extreme to call someone broke if they haven’t had a full, healthy season. Ideally, 2-3 seasons will give you a sense of who a player is. Wiseman has played 49 NBA games.

I think the Warriors want to wait as long as possible before sending any of these guys to the G League.

Right now people are high on Jonathan Kuminga after playing a solid 38 minute game against the Pelicans. Now that Kerr said Kuminga has earned a place in the rotation, can he string together a collection of good games?

Wiseman’s injuries forced him to watch the players who were expected to join on the floor. Now is the time to build those bonds. Perhaps Wiseman could benefit from a pace of play that’s just a tad slower in Santa Cruz to ensure his confidence is high, but the situation has to feel more desperate. The warriors aren’t here yet, for either guy.

Kerr gave Wiseman a thumbs-up at yesterday’s workout, saying: “Modern life doesn’t make up and people don’t factor in organic growth. Everyone wants results now… He still has a lot to learn but he’s a willing learner and we’ll take our time with him.”

Right now, the rookies are the only guys running in the G League.

I understand why fans are curious about trades, but I doubt the front office would think about it after 10 games. The warriors don’t know what they have yet. It’s too early to tell what wins Wiseman, Kuminga and Moses Moody can turn up this season and the newcomers have barely played.

In addition, the money has to fit. An effective veteran costs money. Perhaps the best the Warriors can do in terms of a trade is trade salary for salary.

And of course you need a trading partner. If the Warriors don’t know what they’ve got after ten games, other teams don’t know either. Trading so close to the deadline would require a level of desperation that has not yet skyrocketed.

You raise an interesting point about the social divide in teams. What happens to a family in Steph Curry’s mid-30s is very different from what a single 20-year-old experiences if they were normally going to college.

The young players are friendly to each other but don’t spend every moment hanging out outside of work. The team as a whole doesn’t like to party with colleagues. Guys like each other, but they have their own lives and responsibilities.

Where you might see age being a factor is in the foundation of basketball ability. Leaving college early — or Wiseman and Kuminga essentially bypassing college — means the NBA is becoming a developmental league. The rawness is more pronounced.

Anthony Lamb looked promising starting in New Orleans, scoring 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 from 3-point range.

Donte DiVincenzo’s hamstring injury meant the Warriors had to rely on Ty Jerome as an additional ball carrier on the road trip. He did well too!

RELATED: Not playing in back-to-backs never sits right with Klay

I’m not sure how much the Warriors want to rely on two-way players when trying to set their rotations, but I might be wrong in anticipating limited roles for these guys. Kerr said he will consider any players who prove they deserve a chance in the rotation.

The Warriors starters are still the best in the league, but playing them longer than 34-36 minutes per game isn’t ideal. It’s bad for their bodies in the long term, especially as they get older.

Minutes, minutes, minutes. The big tug of war in a season. With the depth of warriors, starters should be able to pause once things stabilize.

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