The Warriors: The Fragile Present

The Numbers

  •  Average Seed
    9
  • 📉 Pessimist
    29.7 wins
  •  Realist
    38.3 wins
  • 📈 Optimist
    46.9 wins
 First Seed
 
0.0%
⋆ Division
 
3.3%
 Top 4
 
2.3%
👍 Over (49.5)
 
9.9%
ğŸ‘Ž Under (49.5)
ğŸŽ€ Playoffs

 

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.

Sun Tzu

(Editor Arturo's Note: In the interest of fairness, we decided to turn the Warriors to our friend, contributor and long suffering Warriors fan, Jeremy Britton. Take it away Jeremy.)

The Brief

Winning cures everything. Last season the Warriors' appeared to turn their ship around, winning 47 games and then upsetting the Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs. Now Steph Curry is a superstar, Klay Thompson seems poised to break out next, and Harrison Barnes has shown flashes of greatness--the team's future appears bright. 

The addition of all-star Andre Iguodala to the starting unit helps, but the losses of Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry thin out their bench considerably. A lot rests on the fragile ankles of Curry and Andrew Bogut without a lot of support backing them up. Expect at best for the Warriors to match last season, but not improve on it. 

The Story

As we have pointed out previously, there appears to be nothing special about Warrior GM Bob Myers' principles for managing an NBA roster. Do their 47 victories last season and subsequent moves this off-season suggest otherwise? Can their young nucleus of Curry, Thompson, and Barnes mature? Shouldn't we expect an even more successful season next year? 

To understand what to expect, it's important to understand first the two things that drove Warrior wins last season: the health of Curry and Lee (together over 5,800 minutes played, producing over 20 wins), and bench support from Jack and Landry (over 4,000 minutes, producing another 12.6 wins): 

 

Last Year

  •  Actual Wins: 47
  •  Expected Wins: 43.3
  • ⚅ Lucky Wins: 3.7

 

Player Minutes Age WP48 Wins
Stephen Curry 2983 25 .194 12.1
Klay Thompson 2936 24 .034 2.1
David Lee 2907 30 .132 8.0
Jarrett Jack  2349 30 .133 6.5
Harrison Barnes 2058 21 .060 2.6
Carl Landry  1876 30 .157 6.2
Festus Ezeli 1120 24 .083 1.9
Draymond Green 1061 23 .004 .1
Andrew Bogut 786 29 .148 2.4
Richard Jefferson  568 33 .082 1.0
Andris Biedrins  495 27 .141 1.5
Charles Jenkins  291 24 -.070 -.4
Kent Bazemore 267 24 -.069 -.4
Jeremy Tyler  63 22 -.180 -.3
Brandon Rush  25 28 -.092 0
Malcolm Thomas  21 24 .139 .1

 Indicates that the player is no longer with the team.

  • 43.3 total Wins Produced
  •  8 players leaving
    (5688 minutes, 14.4 wins)

 

One high profile player that is not helping as much as advertised is Klay Thompson, a deeply flawed "pure shooter" who is exceptional at taking lots of shots, but curiously only average at turning those shots into points and not exceptional at anything else recorded in the boxscore. Thompson figures to log heavy minutes and demand lots of shots again this season. 

Harrison Barnes, their rookie small forward last season, garnered his share of attention too. The good news for Warrior fans is that he is not as unproductive as Thompson. Instead, Barnes was almost average for a rookie small forward. What will be interesting is seeing how he develops behind Thompson and Iguodala, where we project his minutes significantly reduced this season. 

If Curry, Lee and others like Bogut remain healthy all year, that bodes quite well for the Warriors. That is a big "if" though. The team has already lost second-year center Festus Ezeli from the start of the season. Since hope is not a plan, the Warriors better have productive replacements lined up on the bench, right? Let's see how they prepared by filling out their roster. 

 

This Year

  •  Projected Wins: 38.3
  •  Conference Rank: 9
  • % Playoffs: 33.4

 

Player Position Minutes Age WP48 Wins
Stephen Curry 1.0 2828 25 .178 10.5
Andre Iguodala  2.4 2636 30 .197 10.8
David Lee 4.5 2622 30 .087 4.7
Klay Thompson 2.0 2193 24 .035 1.6
Andrew Bogut 5.0 1847 29 .127 4.9
Harrison Barnes 3.0 1484 21 .082 2.5
Jermaine O'Neal  5.0 1301 35 .004 .1
Toney Douglas  1.2 1134 27 .051 1.2
Marreese Speights  4.6 927 26 .035 .7
Festus Ezeli 5.0 752 24 .096 1.5
Draymond Green 3.6 635 23 .022 .3
Nemanja Nedovic  1.0 495 22 .055 .6
Kent Bazemore 1.9 373 24 -.056 -.4
Seth Curry  2.0 264 23 .036 .2
Ognjen Kuzmic  5.0 182 23 .055 .2

 Indicates that the player is new to the team.

  • 📅 40.7 WP last year
    by these players
  • 🔀 -.7 WP (roster changes)
  • ⏲ -3.2 WP (age/experience)

 

Unfortunately the Warriors not only lost Jack and Landry, they replaced them with an erratic Toney Douglas, a never productive Marreese Speights, and an is-he-still-really-playing-basketball Jermaine O'Neal--a trio forecast to produce only two wins between them in a lot of minutes! This represents a reduction of 10.6 wins for comparable Jack/Landry minutes off the bench, which explains our tempered enthusiasm for this team's chances this season (only a 33% chance of even making the playoffs).

If we look closer at their bench players between last season and this season it is easy to understand why. At point guard the Warriors trade Jack's well-rounded above-average skills for a mixed bag from Toney Douglas. In particular Douglas' penchant for committing fouls, poor shooting, and low assists will make fans miss what Jack brought. On the front line the Warriors lose Landry's remarkable overall shooting and gain two poor-shooting, foul-prone front line players who at least rebound OK. 

Best case scenario? Assuming this roster remains intact, the Warriors' rosiest outcome would come if Curry, Iguodala, Lee, and Bogut remain completely healthy all season; if Lee maintains above-average productivity (I believe our model may overly penalize him); and if young players like Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, and rookies Nemanja Nedovic and Ognjen Kuzmic exceed expectations. This is all certainly possible, though also unlikely.

The Warriors will most likely be somewhat worse than they were last season. If one or more of the Warriors' main stars re-injures themselves and misses several games, this will provide a popular explanation for the setback overall. However, the real explanation will be the depleted bench without Jack and Landry. Unless the Warriors address this, they are likely to disappoint this year.

It's tempting to argue with Jeremy. Jeremy has provided some of the most thoughtful Warriors analysis the last couple of seasons. And the team has proceeded to defy Jeremy's predictions. Is there much to disagree with here? Well there are only three major areas: David Lee could produce more (of course, Jeremy already mentioned that), Bogut could be healthier, and Klay and Barnes might be more productive. Even if these all happen though, the Warriors still aren't as strong as projected.

The Warriors first problem is that their stars aren't at the same caliber as those of other teams. Yes, I love Iguodala and Curry but they're just outside of the top sphere. Their second problem is that they have no depth. None of their rotation players are expected to be above average. In the west, that's just not going to be enough. The only way the Warriors upset Jeremy a third time is by getting amazing overproduction from several players. It could happen, but I wouldn't count on it.