Steve Kerr and Warriors working to find their identity in new era

The Golden State Warriors begin their season Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, but the roster that used to boast players like Kevin Durant, Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala won’t be trotting out onto the floor at Chase Center.

It’s a new era for the Warriors, a team that has dominated the NBA over the past five seasons. And with a new era beginning comes searching for a new identity. Per Will Gottlieb of Bleacher Report, coach Steve Kerr spoke on the Warriors’ finding a new identity.

“We have to work harder than we have in the past to forge a [defensive] identity and figure out what that identity is, because to be perfectly honest, I don’t know what it is,” Kerr said before the preseason finale last Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Warriors have thrived over the years because of their ability to switch seamlessly on defense. That versatility has allowed them to play with smaller lineups with Draymond Green at center.

Golden State would have the perimeter and middle on the floor on lockdown during its best seasons. Green could defend any player on the floor, being able to sink into the paint or cause disruption on the perimeter.

Thompson helped keep opposing players on the perimeter in check, but he is currently out with a left ACL injury. Kerr recently said Thompson is “unlikely” to play this season, per NBC Sports Bay Area. He then later clarified his comments and said while Thompson is doing well, a typical ACL recovery takes 9-12 months.

The Warriors don’t have the luxury of being able to play non-traditional small lineups, so their performances defensively this season might take a step back.

Here’s what Green said on the Warriors’ potentially changing defensive scheme at media day in September.

“We don’t have as good a defenders as we had,” Green said at media day. “I don’t think that’s any surprise. But at the same time, we’ve just got to find our identity. You know, before our identity was switching. That may not be our identity anymore.”

From an offensive standpoint, the Warriors will look different, too. Steph Curry is still one of the top guards in the league, but with Thompson out, he will have to score more. D’Angelo Russell, who averaged a career-high 21.1 points per game last season, will help Curry in the scoring department.

Russell is a pick-and-roll combo guard. He excels at reading the defense and seeing whether to drive the lane or find a teammate. The Warriors’ offensive identity over the past few years hasn’t been heavily based around pick-and-roll, but rather heavy off-ball screening and player movement.

The changes that will come for the Warriors this season are inevitable. But as a new era begins for the team, finding an identity in a season filled with change will be the theme of the season.

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