Why the 2022-23 Warriors are Steve Kerr’s ‘biggest challenge’ for Kendrick Perkins

Warriors coach Steve Kerr is no stranger to adversity during his time at Golden State.

From the ups and downs of the Kevin Durant era to a last place finish in the Western Conference just a few years ago, there have been plenty of bumps in the road with championship trophies.

But ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins says the 2022-23 NBA season is Kerr’s toughest task yet for several reasons.

“This team that the Golden State Warriors have, it’s going to be the biggest challenge of Steve Kerr’s coaching career,” Perkins said Thursday on “First Take.”

There were already a variety of things for Kerr to consider this season, fresh off the Warriors’ fourth NBA title in eight seasons. And when Draymond Green hit Jordan Poole before the first game could even start, it didn’t make it any easier.

“Now you have to earn back their trust, and now you have to get that chemistry back,” Perkins said. “But let’s think about everything that’s going on with their team right now.”

In addition to the punching saga, Perkins highlighted Klay Thompson’s return to form after returning in January from two leg injuries.

Thompson’s incredible comeback last season and in the playoffs helped Golden State earn another ring, though it got off to a slow start this season. While Thompson finds his feet under him, as described by Kerr, the coach said his star marksman is unlikely to play in the second straight game this season.

That being said, Thompson sat out against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday after a season-best shooting performance in Thursday’s loss to the Orlando Magic.

“You’ve got Klay, still trying to find himself and get back to the Klay of old, which we’ve seen flashes of, but it hasn’t been consistent,” Perkins said. “Right? And his minutes have gone down.

In addition to Kerr trying to properly manage Thompson’s minutes, Perkins worries about how Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins might start to see their roles after signing massive contract extensions this offseason.

“Now suddenly you have Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins, guys who were huge in terms of winning the championship last year,” Perkins said. “…So now you have these two guys in particular, don’t you?” It got contract extensions, got huge offers, and now all of a sudden they’re coming back from winning their first championship, and let me tell you what happens with young people like that.

“They know they were part of the reason they won, and so when you come back into the dressing room you have to take them back to the roots of embracing and being that same player that they [were] last year because now they actually want a bigger role.

Behind Steph Curry’s average of 34.9 minutes per game this season, Wiggins and Poole have seen the most time on the pitch with averages of 33.3 and 29.6 minutes, respectively.

The duo certainly earned bigger roles with their play last season. But as Golden State fell to five straight losses on Friday, Steve Kerr hinted that changes to the team’s rotation were afoot.

That leads to Perkins’ final point: Kerr’s challenge to develop the Warriors’ young players while finding ways to win.

“Now you think about the other team members: Jonathan Kuminga, James Wiseman, Moses Moody,” Perkins said. “You think about those three young guys and how now all of a sudden Steve Kerr [has to] start putting these guys in the rotation a bit, because these three guys were lottery picks.

“Now all of a sudden you have to see the development. You have to see what you’re going to get out of these guys. You have to start putting them in game situations where they are in the game, you know, at the end of the fourth quarter.

The young guys had a huge chance to prove their worth Friday night against the Pelicans as Curry, Thompson, Green and Wiggins rested on the bench. Kerr said Kuminga gained more minutes after his 18-point night, while Moody finished with plus/minus odds of plus-10.

RELATED: What We Learned on the Warriors’ Five-Game Winless Road Trip

Wiseman picked up six boards in the loss and still has plenty of growth ahead of him, although Kerr recently said he still believes in the 21-year-old’s talent.

As Perkins said, there’s a lot on Kerr’s plate this season other than trying to do one of the hardest things in all of sports: win back-to-back championships.

“[There’s] one basketball, so at the end of the day you can only get so many shots throughout the game,” Perkins said. “Not everyone will be satisfied.

“So now, Steve Kerr, he [has] must do his best tricks.

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