- NBA Rank: 6
Conference Rank: 5
- Golden State Warriors
The Warrior's took a very strong starting five a long way last year. They've addressed a core weakness by signing Shaun Livingston. They will look to challenge the Clippers and Suns for the Pacific title. In the end, the health of their big three will probably be the biggest factor in whether this team is a marginal playoff team or a contender.
The Bay Area media may reference the Splash Brothers a lot, but the three-headed engine that powers this team doesn't really include Klay Thompson. Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, and Andrew Bogut are the heart of this team. As long as all of them are healthy, they are a juggernaut. When one goes down, they remain a solid team but are a lot more vulnerable.
|Steve Blake ||607||34||0.116||1.5|
|Kent Bazemore ||268||25||-0.127||-0.7|
|Toney Douglas ||265||28||-0.058||-0.3|
|MarShon Brooks ||15||25||0.040||0|
|Dewayne Dedmon ||6||24||-0.491||-0.1|
Indicates that the player is no longer with the team.
We saw this last year, as the team struggled when Iggy was hurt. The jury is still out on whether Harrison Barnes is a bust, but he certainly suffered as Mark Jackson called his name for an endless series of post-up isolations that rarely ended well. Luckily, Draymond Green filled some of that void, showing three-point range and doing a lot of the rebounding and defensive work that the team needed from the wings. But it was not a good sign that Barnes soaked up more of Iggy's backup/injury minutes than Green did.
Klay Thompson continued to show an impressive range, and continued to do almost nothing else to produce wins. In fact, his proclivity for taking lots of midrange shots hurts the team's spacing. Every time Klay shoots a long two, defenses breathe a sigh of relief that neither he nor Curry/Iggy is launching a three.
Many fans bring up Klay's defense as a selling point, but I remain skeptical. There isn't a lot of quantitative data to back this up. Even though I concede that it is not always easy to quantify defense, I think too many "fanalysts" use this as an excuse to label somebody a good defender when they want to explain away poor numbers, or a bad one when they wish to de-value great box score numbers. This is, in fact, exactly what Golden State did in contrasting Klay (poor numbers, but "Hey, he's a great defender") and Kevin Love (amazing numbers, but "everybody knows he is a bad defender"). I remain convinced that Klay is not as good a defender as his fans believe, nor is Love as poor as his detractors claim.
Iggy was fantastic, but this was no surprise to readers of this site (and a source of some bitterness to poor Dre, who may have now given up on the Nuggets for good). Bogut's return to franchise center form was a welcome surprise at his age and given the injuries he's had to fight back from.
|Shaun Livingston ||2.0||1,289.5||30||0.141||3.8|
|Leandro Barbosa ||2.0||1,146.8||32||0.049||1.2|
|Festus Ezeli ||5.0||989.7||25||0.075||1.6|
|Brandon Rush ||2.0||813.8||30||-0.014||-0.2|
|Aaron Craft ||1.0||389.4||0||0.046||0.4|
Indicates that the player is new to the team.
This year, we expect more of the same, but with a lot less of a drop off when Curry has to take a seat. Livingston's length will also let him spend time at the shooting guard spot. Between him and Iggy, the Warriors can now field some lineups with impressive defensive chops.
There's also the possibility that Steve Kerr can knock some sense into Klay Thompson and get him to stay behind the three-point line. We don't know much about Kerr as a coach yet, but he seems to have more modern ideas than Jackson did, and this will be a welcome change for the Warriors' offense.
The biggest concerns will remain the same, though: Will Bogut stay healthy? Small ball lineups with Lee at the five can be offensive powerhouses, but defensively they have huge problems. Will Curry stay healthy? It was encouraging that Curry played 2,800 minutes last year, but at the same time, that's probably more mileage than Kerr will want on his ankles come April and May.
Finally, they need to make a decision on Barnes. The smart decision is to move him and shift the focus of the franchise's future on the wing to Green. But teams usually think too much about sunk costs -- Barnes was an expensive first-round pick, and Green was a cheap second rounder. Sometimes it takes a while for the "lottery pick halo" to wear off.
I suspect the Warriors and Clippers will be in a brawl for the top spot in the Pacific most of the year. A lot will depend on the health of Bogut/Curry/Iggy, but also on Chris Paul. If Paul misses a lot of time, the Suns look like a more interesting rival. In any case, I think it will be fun to watch how Steve Kerr's schemes will differ from Jackson's.