Steve Kerr on offense: Warriors won’t turn into Rockets

Rockets star James Harden and Warriors coach Steve Kerr
Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

Warriors coach Steve Kerr loves poking the Rockets.

Kerr describing Golden State’s offense on The TK Show, via Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area:

“We’re not reinventing the wheel. We’re still gonna be the Warriors,” Kerr told The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami on Wednesday. “We’re not gonna all of a sudden turn into the Rockets — change our offense — and have one guy go high pick-and-roll 70 times a game.”

“We gotta be ourselves,” he said. “What makes Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson) the players they are is the combination of what they can on and off the ball. That’s what moves defenses.

“And what makes Draymond (Green) special is his ability to distribute from either the four or the five spot — to have playmaking at that level. As you watch (the) Miami (Heat) right now, you can see the influence that our team has had on the league.

“It’s really difficult for defenses to guard when there’s a lot of action going on. So we’re not gonna change that stuff.”

Good coaches scheme to their personnel. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are phenomenal off-ball players. Draymond Green is an excellent passing big man. Kerr’s plan generally works well for Golden State.

James Harden, on the other hand, is one of the best ball-dominant offensive players of all-time. Houston’s offenses have been elite with him. (The Rockets reduced his pick-and-rolls this season in favor of more isolations, but the goal remained similar – having Harden create.)

But Kerr seems to be going further than merely acknowledging the differences in strategy. “It’s really difficult for defenses to guard when there’s a lot of action going on” sounds like Kerr saying his game plan is better.

And in some ways, it is. Kerr’s preferred style gives the Warriors an insanely high ceiling.

It also lowers their floor when non-stars get involved (which wasn’t much a problem in Golden State until this season) and when defenses tighten deep in the playoffs. This was the root of Kevin Durant‘s gripe.

The very best teams score efficiently with intricate ball/player movement AND in isolation. With Durant, the Warriors did both.

Now, it sounds like Golden State will tilt back toward Kerr’s romanticized motion offense – which, again, mostly makes sense for this roster. But there will be situations where the Warriors would benefit from letting Curry take over.

Likewise, Houston would benefit from Harden doing more off the ball in a more-diversified attack. Maybe a coaching change will inspire a new approach – though it’s hard to see a complete overhaul with Harden so accustomed to having the ball. Players have their comfort zones.

As do coaches.