The 38-year-old Chris Paul has never come off the bench in 1,214 regular-season and 149 playoff games. That is expected to continue in his 19th NBA season and first with the Golden State Warriors, according to ESPN and Andscape’s senior writer Marc Spears.
“I do expect him to start. And I think it’s like five-minute spurts,” Spears said on the September 7 episode of the Yahoo Sports Ball Don’t Lie’s Good Word with Goodwill podcast. “I don’t know that they really want his minutes to be high, but I think they’re gonna try it. I could be wrong, but that’s the gist I’m getting. This isn’t an opinion that he’s expected to start. It’s what I’m hearing. He’s never not started in his career.”
But Spears noted that this would be the first time Paul has to fit in, as opposed to being the leading voice as he did with his previous teams, most recently in Phoenix, where he elevated a young Suns team to the NBA Finals only two seasons ago.
Last season, the Warriors’ most used starting lineup was Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney. Green had been effective as a small-ball center whenever Kerr paired Curry and the 6-foot-4 Jordan Poole at the backcourt, so Looney could be the odd man out.
But starting Curry and Paul — neither player stands above 6’2″ — together at the backcourt will further shrink the Warriors’ size, pushing their small-ball scheme to the extreme.
Steve Kerr Defers the Chris Paul Decision
With Steve Kerr’s duty with Team USA about to end on Sunday in the bronze medal game, his next focus will be facing the elephant in the room — should Paul start or come off the bench?
“I think that’ll be a case where you get three weeks of training camp before that first game,” Kerr told ESPN in August. “We’ll just look at all kinds of different combinations.”
Paul has never played over 65 games in the past two seasons. With a lot of miles already under his 38-year-old legs, Kerr will do a delicate balancing act between keeping the 12-time All-Star point guard fresh for the playoffs and making sure he’s also putting in the sweat equity to build chemistry with the team.
“The main thing is we know all those guys are going to play a lot of minutes. But the luxury of having Chris Paul to add to this group that we’ve been lucky enough to have for a decade … pretty remarkable,” Kerr said. “He is one of the great competitors in the game. He’s one of the great point guards of all time. I think he’s a great addition for us because of his ability to control games, control tempo, take care of the ball.”
Stephen Curry Is Confident They Can All Figure out
Curry, who claimed he’s the best point guard ever, is keeping an open mind that there’s room for two lead guards in their team.
“We obviously have a lot of questions to answer in terms of who’s starting, who’s finishing and that’ll play itself out,” Curry said on the Gil’s Arena podcast. “But at the end of the day, we all, I think, are motivated to win. I’m sure nobody more than [Paul] and for us to know exactly where we feel like we belong as a team.”
After all, he also figured out how to play with Kevin Durant, resulting in two championships. With Curry still not showing signs of slowing down at 34, the expectation is Paul will be the one who will have to sacrifice.
“So, there’s a lot going for us in that respect to try to put all our energy towards that,” Curry said. “There’s going to be a lot of narrative and conversation again around sacrifice and what that looks like when it comes to — there’s only five guys on the court in the town, but I think we can all figure that out.”