SACRAMENTO — Second-year guard Anthony Morrow is going to get minutes this season, because he's perhaps the Warriors' most efficient scoring option.
But the concern regarding Morrow is not about his offense. Having already established himself as a lights-out shooter — he shot a league-best 46.7 percent from 3-point range last season — the next step for Morrow is to avoid hurting the team defensively.
With barely decent size for his position (6-foot-5, 210 pounds), average athleticism and little experience, Morrow's work is cut out for him.
"It's tough man," Morrow said. "These are the best players in the world. But I'm playing against some of the best players, too (in practice). So I am getting better every day."
Morrow started the Warriors' 101-94 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Saturday at Arco Arena, scoring five points in 20 minutes.
Stephen Jackson had 22 points and seven rebounds for the War-
Warriors in his first game back after serving a two-game team-imposed suspension. Corey Maggette came off the Warriors bench for a team-high 28 points.
Morrow said his biggest defensive struggle is coming off screens, but other deficiencies showed up against Sacramento. Starting partly because swingman Kelenna Azubuike was out with a bone bruise in his left ankle, Morrow opened the game defending Kings rookie point guard Tyreke Evans and was made to look as if he were standing still a couple of times.
Evans (6-6, 220) is regarded as a superior athlete, but Morrow will have to match up against some serious athletes all season. He's expected to play at least as many as the 22.6 minutes he averaged last season.
Morrow is expected to play mostly shooting guard, which pairs him up against players he said largely use screens. He may get some time at small forward, where players are "better at going one-on-one."
He said he is watching a lot of film, which has helped him handle screens better. He can often be found after practice playing one-on-one, often against quicker teammates such as C.J. Watson. That, he hopes, will help his man-to-man defense.
He said he also closely watches Jackson, who coach Don Nelson has said is the Warriors' best defender.
"I see how he's the aggressor," Morrow said of what he's learned from Jackson, a swingman. "He sometimes even takes a couple of hard fouls earlier just to set the tone."
Still, Warriors coaches aren't expecting Morrow to be a lockdown defender. The Warriors, partly because of their lack of natural defensive talent, emphasize team defensive principles. So the short-term goal for Morrow is to know his assignments, be in the right place on the floor and to follow the game plan.
In the meantime, he's learning fundamentals, building up his strength and studying the game. How fast he improves that part of his game likely will determine if he's a regular starter in the immediate future or instant offense off the bench.
"I just have to keep working at it," Morrow said. "I have gotten better and I will get better. I just need to put in the work."
Notes: Backup center Ronny Turiaf (sore left knee) did not make the trip to Sacramento despite his progress in practice. His preseason debut could come Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers, his former team, in Ontario.