On the back of another championship season, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr returns to the Real Ones podcast. Logan and Raja ask Kerr all about how he’ll approach this upcoming season, how the Warriors plan to develop their younger players and maintain their older players, and of course, they all tell stories along the way.
Steve Kerr discusses his approach to the 2022-23 NBA season and his expectations for Jordan Poole, James Wiseman, and the Golden State Warriors’ other young players.
Logan Murdock: Steve, you guys are going into this season defending a title—I don’t know if it’s expectedly or unexpectedly—but how are you going to coach this season? What do you think this season is going to bring in terms of how you need to coach it?
Steve Kerr: I think it will be an extension from last season, but with the knowledge of how good we can be. Last year we had this plan to develop our young guys—[James] Wiseman, [Jonathan] Kuminga, [Moses] Moody, Jordan Poole. We thought we could get back into contention for a title, but we didn’t really know. We knew Klay [Thompson] was going to come back, so we felt like we could do both, but as it turned out, obviously we ended up winning the title.
So this year is really an extension of that. We still need to develop those young guys because our older guys, they’re all on the back nine now of their careers. But the knowledge of “Hey, we just won a championship, we know how to do this,” I think it gives us a little more confidence in the plan going forward that as long as we’re healthy and functioning well going into the postseason we can do this again.
Raja Bell: I don’t know if a lot of listeners know, and I don’t know if you guys even philosophically still do it, Steve, but at exit interviews when a season would be over you’d go in, you’d sit with your GM and your coach—especially when you were one of these young players, as Steve is talking about—and they would be like, “Hey, you did X, Y, and Z. Here’s where we see you. Here’s what we’d ideally like you to progress at, get better at. Spend some time focusing on this in the summer.”
So as it pertains to these young guys, Steve, I don’t know if you feel comfortable, but what do you see each one of them in terms of their development? What’s the next step that you guys would like to see them take?
Kerr: Each one is different. Jordan Poole took a leap last year and became a really high-level player, so his next step is to become a better two-way guy. He’s a really dynamite offensive player. He’s much stronger and more athletic than I think people realize, even maybe more than he realizes, so can he become a two-way guy like Klay Thompson? That’s his next step.
You go down the list and each guy sort of has his things that he’s got to improve upon. For Wiseman it’s really about getting healthy. Missing all of last year, he just needs to play. The good thing is he’s had a great summer. He’s been playing pickup every day. His knee is doing great. There’s going to be a natural progression with him because he’s a big man, and big guys usually take longer to develop. He just needs reps, but more than anything he needs to be healthy, so that’s for him.
I could keep going down the list, but we need to do all this within the context of trying to win games and trying to prepare ourselves for the playoffs, too, so it’s not an easy task. Because there are going to be nights when these guys play a lot, there’s going to be nights when they don’t play as much, and you got to keep it all going.
Murdock: You referenced Wiseman, and I think the last time you were on the pod Wiseman was in the midst of his up-and-down rookie year, right? He would show really great spurts. I remember that dunk in Detroit where he just goes full court and he just slams it, and it just looks like something we haven’t really seen before out of a center on your roster.
But right now what are the reasonable expectations for him this season in your eyes? Because he hasn’t played a lot of basketball, but he does show spurts when he can. What is a reasonable expectation from him if you want to win a title this season?
Kerr: Well, I mean to be fair to him and to [Kevon Looney], Loon is our starting 5. He’s a championship player. He’s won multiple rings. He’s proved in the playoffs that he can switch and guard almost anybody out there, and also he has the wherewithal to be really effective offensively because of his knowledge, his screen setting, his recognition of patterns, all that.
So, realistically, Wise will back up Loon, but Wise has the capability to do some things that Loon can’t, no. 1 being a lob threat. So we’ve got to put Wise in a position where he can be diving to the rim, giving us that vertical spacing that we haven’t had maybe since JaVale [McGee], this year. He runs the floor beautifully.
The biggest thing for James is he has the capability to be a really dominant defender with his size and speed, but it takes a ton of reps, so we’re going to be asking him to defend, and run the floor, and be that lob threat—and no doubt in my mind he’s going to get better and better as the season goes on and he’s got a great future.
This transcript was edited for clarity.
Hosts: Logan Murdock and Raja Bell
Guest: Steve Kerr
Producers: Bobby Wagner and Sasha Ashall