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Chris Mullin assesses Warriors’ early struggles: ‘They’ll be fine’



© Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Is it time to push the panic button on the Warriors?

Golden State is 6-9 and 0-8 on the road this season, largely due to a massive drop-off in defensive performance from last season.

Their young players, in James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody (not to mention Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Ryan Rollins), simply haven’t done enough at this point, to make up for the losses of veterans in Otto Porter Jr., Nemanja Bjelica and Gary Payton II.

But Hall of Famer Chris Mullin thinks these are natural growing pains. He joined Tolbert and Copes on Friday to break down the issues as he sees them.

“It’s the first 15 games of the season. Sometimes we make it a little more complicated than it really is,” Mullin said. “I think what you said, Klay starts making some shots, all of a sudden it’s not as much talk about him recovering. Because, I, quite frankly, thought what he did last year was way more challenging than what he’s going through now. And he handled that pretty well. So I’m really not overly concerned about that.

“And then it’s just, acclimating the young guys. On paper, they’re the perfect fit to mesh with the older players. Wiseman, Moody and Kuminga, long, athletic, explosive athletes. It just hasn’t happened yet. But I do believe it will.”

What gives Mullin that confidence is that the talent is all there. It’s apparent.

But it’s the other stuff that comes with time. He thinks that will appear as the season progresses.

“A lot of this stuff is less basketball oriented and more kind of geared towards chemistry, communication and trust, which is an important part,” Mullin said. “But I’d much rather be trying to figure that out than actually trying to find the talent and the experience and all the skill that they have. So it’s definitely a transition period, but I think it’s far from time to panic.”

The Warriors have had different paths to championships, too.

The fact that they won last season after a three-year detour, with Klay Thompson coming back from injury, gives Mullin a roadmap to buy into Golden State again.

“This is just a different journey, and a different timeline,” Mullin said. “But I think they’ll be fine, I do. I just think it’s a natural progression when you try and integrate really young players…

So if you think about it, it makes total sense. But when you go through the season, and you’re under the microscope that the Warriors are, it becomes, to me, somewhat overanalyzed.”

Mullin also expressed a conviction that Jonathan Kuminga, in particular, will figure it out.

In order to get more playing time and be more effective, he said it has to come from his effort. He needs to “sprint the floor every time” and attack the glass defensively and allow his teammates to create around him on the offensive end.

‘I think he’s going to be a dynamic player,” Mullin said, adding that his fouling and effort are things fully in his control.

The Warriors face the New York Knicks at home on Friday night at 7 p.m.

Listen to the full interview below. You can listen to every KNBR interview on our podcast page at knbr.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Catch Tolbert & Copes weekdays from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. on KNBR 104.5 / 680 and streaming live on KNBR.com.