Steve Kerr: More Important Than Previously Thought


For Steve Kerr and the Golden State Warriors, the first regular season game is in the books, and like last year, they started the season with a win — just as the last 11 eventual champions have done. The team played well, especially in the first half, thanks to the reigning MVP, Stephen Curry, who dropped 24 points in the 1st quarter alone. They grabbed a 111-95 win against the New Orleans Pelicans after receiving their championship rings, but during the game there was still one major thing missing.

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Unlike last year though, the Warriors had to start the season without their head coach walking the sideline. Kerr, who is suffering side effects related to his two offseason back surgeries, was at the arena to receive his newest piece of jewelry, but had to watch the game from the locker room.

Before the game, Kerr talked about his health and a possible return to the court.

"“It’s good to be back around the team quite a bit,” Kerr told the media prior to the game. “Prospects long-term are great. I know I’m on the right path, I’m on the right track. I’m very confident I’ll be back this season. And I can’t wait.”"

That may be cause for a bit of concern. Saying that he is confident he’ll return this season doesn’t exactly sound like he’ll be back anytime soon. And despite the Warriors opening night win, maybe it’s time to admit that Kerr had a bit more to do with the Warriors first title in 40 years than many of us, including Kerr himself, thought.

Kerr has said multiple times that he got on with an already great team, and that he didn’t quite know what he was doing. While his inheritance of this talented roster is hard to debate, his coaching ability is not.

October 27, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton reacts during the first quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

With Mark Jackson at the helm, the Warriors fell victim to untimely substitutions, mismanagement of out of bounds situations, and worst of all, a noticeably stagnant offense all too often. With Kerr calling the shots, we almost never saw those mishaps. And when we did, they didn’t become a continuous problem.

While perhaps Kerr doesn’t deserve all of the credit for the Warriors’ success last season, his absence not be taken too lightly. If you look at the preseason, in which interim head coach, Luke Walton, coached the entirety, the results weren’t too comforting.

Even with the 39 point blowout win against the Los Angeles Lakers in the final tune up game, the Dubs were outscored by their opponents in the preseason.

While Walton has been doing a great job given the circumstances, the Warriors looked sloppy in the preseason on both sides of the court. The games were meaningless, and key players weren’t playing their normal minutes. But even when the starters were on the floor, they often lacked rhythm and cohesiveness.

Now that the regular season is underway, the Warriors are looking to lock in and will have to correct any mistakes along the way. Their tough schedule to open the season won’t do them any favors as they face the Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans (again), Memphis Grizzlies, and Los Angeles Clippers in their next four games — and nine playoff teams from last year within the first month of the season.

Walton has all the tools to run this team during Kerr’s absence, which is looking likely to carry on for the foreseeable future. The roster itself is loaded and could easily win 50 or more games uncoached. The key will be in how Walton manages the lineup and his decisions in close games.

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But then again, he has learned from some of the best. With that said, Kerr gave Walton some great advice before the the team hit the court on Tuesday night.

"“We won 67 games last year, and I didn’t know what I was doing at all.”"

Maybe Walton should take a page out of Kerr’s book and just wing it.