Thompson: A big dunk sent the Warriors a clear message — it’s time to change

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SAN FRANCISCO — Draymond Green threw the lob pass seemingly to the heavens, high enough that only two people on the court could go get it. One of them, Portland’s young leaper Shaedon Sharpe, was out of position having to cut off Green’s drive into the paint. That left one other candidate.

Once Sharpe left him to cover Green, Jonathan Kuminga abandoned his spot in the left corner and charged toward the rim. He soared so high. Higher than the Warriors tend to roam. High enough to dust the rim with his beard. So high, he had to pause in the air for a breath, cocking the ball back before dunking it on his descent.

And when Kuminga dunked it with two hands, it felt like so much more than an exclamation point for the Warriors’ fourth-quarter comeback Wednesday against the Blazers. More like a release of frustration from a player who in his third year still can’t get consistent minutes. Like a resounding declaration of the Warriors’ thirst for athleticism. Like Kuminga was punctuating a message, with an exclamation.

A visual appeal for the Warriors to change their perspective, think about their approach from a different plane.

Even in victory — as the Warriors escaped their worst loss of the season, winning 110-106 over rebuilding Portland at Chase Center — the message was received. Change is necessary. Precedence is proving problematic.

There is poetic justice in Kuminga being the deliverer.

The Warriors started the second quarter of the season Wednesday disappointingly enough to make it clear it’s time to do something different. They’ve been waiting for, banking on, their championship core to impose its will again. They’ve been married to the ideal of their future Hall of Famers, trusting their legacies of greatness will produce a harvest in the present. Stephen Curry is still elite. Green is still incomparable, especially having regained his offensive flow.

But Andrew Wiggins, despite a couple of teasing performances, can’t seem to string together his usual offensive potency right now. Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney look most bothered by the quickness, athleticism and length they’ve faced. Chris Paul’s experience and savvy haven’t been the enhancer the Warriors expected.

They could get it together. But with each passing game, it gets more risky waiting on it. And the recourse isn’t to go away from their best players. Not by any means. But like Boomers adjusting to a world governed by AI, the Warriors’ OGs need to start bracing for a new reality.

“It’s difficult for everybody,” Curry said. “It’s not that we can just roll the ball out and do the same thing we’ve been doing. Because, obviously, teams have adapted. There’s a certain expectation of how we play. We’ve been in situations this year where we’ve obviously lost some big leads because we haven’t been able to adapt quick enough in those type of games when things aren’t going our way.”

The Blazers became the latest young,…

Read More: Thompson: A big dunk sent the Warriors a clear message — it’s time to change 2023-12-07 19:36:43

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