Sporting Green // Bruce Jenkins

Warriors still making a splash — on the sidelines

Star power is the lifeblood of the NBA, usually the main reason to follow a team, or several, through the season’s long grind. During the Warriors’ five-year occupation of the NBA Finals, the stirring performances of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant became a constant talking point for fans around the world.

Just lately, that star power has returned to a Golden State team that cascaded into oblivion. The purveyors wear street clothes, but they are instantly familiar. Curry and Thompson have become must-see sideline reporters in their guest appearances on the Warriors’ NBC Sports Bay Area telecasts, leaving fans crying out for more.

So why not? Let’s see more of that. In a perfect world for disillusioned Warriors fans, nary a week should pass without at least one of the Splash Brothers taking a sideline turn.

To be clear, no such strategy should diminish the work of Kerith Burke, who has ranked with the NBA’s best sideline reporters from the day she joined the Warriors’ crew two years ago. It shouldn’t even be an issue; Burke continues to do her thing, while the players perform their spontaneous riffs at all the appropriate times.

No one has been more delighted by the superstars’ appearances than Burke herself. “They’re both complete naturals,” she said before Wednesday night’s 129-96 loss to the Utah Jazz. “Because they know the game so well. They see plays develop. I think it’s a lot of fun for them, too, to have this experience — in a season where there haven’t been many moments to tune in for.”

On Monday’s edition of ESPN’s “The Jump,” former NBA head coach David Fizdale marveled at their work and said, “I’m sick of these guys (laughs), ’cause they’re the best shooters in the league, they got their rings, and now they’re takin’ over the sidelines. It’s like, what can’t they do?”

Thompson’s laconic humor is an eternal hoot, and it’s pleasantly shocking to see him get excited. With Curry, as into the action as he would be on the floor, the camera people pay strict attention — lest he leap into the air, sprint a few steps or break into a dance.

”The enthusiasm is real,” Burke said. “And I like how basketball players talk to other basketball players. It’s fun. It’s disarming. It’s just a nice occasion to see their faces, their love for the team, to have their moment in the sun. Like, ‘Hey, remember me?’”

Nobody is going to remember much of anything about this season, in part because that crucial element, star power, is so noticeably missing. Draymond Green becomes a historically influential player with the right set of teammates, but he’s in the shadows just now. The focus falls directly on D’Angelo Russell, one of the league’s most prolific scorers and a sight to behold when he gets hot. But does Russell fall into that pay-to-see-him-play category? Not quite.

What becomes of this man? It’s probably the trickiest question facing Golden State management as it charts next season’s roster. How it looks from this viewpoint:

• Russell could properly join the Splash Brothers if he were to start at small forward. Not a good idea. Too much is lost on defense (head coach Steve Kerr has benched Russell on several occasions when tough defense was needed), and Thompson — while capable of moving to a forward spot — should stay exactly where he is: Best shooting guard in the league and capable of shutting down other top backcourt players.

(Green and Eric Paschall seem to grow more similar by the day, each best suited for the power forward spot, but these are two smart, winning players; the Warriors should take a long look at them starting together.)

• Russell coming off the bench? He’s too good for that, after performing at an All-Star level for two straight seasons. A trade seems the most likely outcome — and because keeping D-Lo would hardly be a disaster, the Warriors can wait for the perfect deal before committing, either before the Feb. 6 deadline or in the summer.

• There’s no way the 76ers trade Ben Simmons — not this early in his career — and don’t even think about Giannis Antetokounmpo until Milwaukee’s postseason is complete. Perhaps a more immediate option is Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, a close friend of Russell’s and stuck with a team that is really tired of being horrible.

Towns is a double-double machine with a feathery touch from 3-point range, but is he a winner? Jimmy Butler didn’t think so, when they were teammates in Minnesota, and there is little indication to date that the Warriors are vitally interested. Towns would be an upgrade at center, but the Warriors would likely pinpoint Utah’s Rudy Gobert, who absolutely destroyed them Wednesday night, as the more enviable standard.

In the meantime, fans await those special TV cameos. That’s when the stars come out.

Bruce Jenkins is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @Bruce_Jenkins1

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