As the NBA season fast approaches, Right Down Euclid will be previewing all 30 NBA teams, breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of each franchise. This preview will focus on the Golden State Warriors, who last year had a record of 47-35 and made the playoffs.
Team: Golden State Warriors
Coach: Mark Jackson
General Manager: Bob Myers
2012-2013 Record: 47-35
Place in Conference: 2nd place in Pacific Division, 6th place in the Western Conference.
Leading Scorer: Stephen Curry 23.4 points per game (7th in league)
Key Additions: Acquired Andre Igoudala thru a trade with Denver. Signed free agents Toney Douglas, Mareese Speights, and Jermaine O’Neal. Drafted PG Nemanja Nedovic (Serbia).
Key Losses: Lost Jarret Jack and Carl Landry via free agency. Traded Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush and Andris Biendris.
The Golden State Warriors are the benefactors of a metamorphosis of sorts taking place in the NBA’s Pacific Division. The perennial division winning Los Angeles Lakers have taken onto hard times allowing “have-nots” such as the Golden State Warriors and the L.A. Clippers to shine. Last season, Golden State’s 47-35 record netted them second place in the Pacific division with the team making the playoffs for the first time in six years under new coach Mark Jackson. Unfortunately their amazing run ended in the semi-final round, 4-2 to the San Antonio Spurs.
The team’s good fortune and momentum carried over into the summer free agency period, landing one of the top Small Forwards, Andre Igoudala forcing a sign and trade with the Denver Nuggets. Igoudala was just what the doctor ordered, bringing veteran leadership to this young squad, and a tough defensive presence further improving Mark Jackson’s signature defensive scheme. Igoudala hopefully will be enough to offset the loss of key players Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry via free agency.
Most people would immediately tell you that the Warriors strength last season was their three point and outside shooting, and it was pretty good. However, the thing that really made the Warriors tick was they dominated the defensive boards, becoming the first team in NBA history to clear 75.6 percent of available defensive rebounds. This amazing statistic will be difficult to repeat.
Once again, the team will ride the hot hand of Stephen Curry, who shot .453 from behind the arc, .451 from the field, and .900 from the line. If you double-team Curry, he is likely to find his open teammate as he averaged 8.1 assists per game. You also have to contend with Klay Thompson who made over 40 percent of his three point attempts, averaging 16.6 points per game. David Lee returned from injury to average 18.5 PPG, while pulling down 11.2 RPG. Igoudala brings a solid all around game averaging 13.0 PPG, with 5.4 APG, 5.3 RPG. Oft injured Andrew Bogut rounds out the starting five at Center, averaging 10.9 rebounds per game.
Repeating their extraordinary rebounding feat from last season will be extremely difficult in and of itself. Compounding the potential loss of these extra possessions is the fact that turnovers were a huge problem for the Warriors last season. Only two teams league wide committed more per game (14.8 TOPG). They also were next to last in turnover differential, committing 1.9 more than their opponent. Their sloppy ball control was offset by raining three’s on opponents and grabbing every available board. This season they will need to improve their ability to protect the ball in order to win, especially in the playoffs.
Other potential weakness center around the Warrior bench, which lost two key players in Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, who contributed heavily last season. Dramond Green and Kent Bazemore are huge question marks. Should the oft-injured Andrew Bogut or Curry go down for extended periods you are looking at Jermaine O’Neal (another oft injured player), or Toney Douglas stepping into the starting lineup respectively. Either way, the Warriors would be in big trouble.
2013-2014 Season Prediction
My crystal ball tells me that Golden State will finish second in the Pacific Division once again, based not so much on their talent, but the fact that the L.A. Lakers, Sacramento Kings, and Phoenix Suns do not have the horses to win this race. If Andrew Bogut can play 70+ games and they take care of the ball a lot better than they did last year they could win 50+ games.
If I was the General Manager of this team, I would be scouring the league to be sure that every available Point Guard and Center was on my radar. Not having a quality back up behind Curry is asking for trouble. I also would rework the starting lineup, bringing Klay Thompson and David off the bench, replacing them with Harrison Barnes and Mareese Speights. This would bring leadership, rebounding and firepower to the second unit, while maintaining scoring punch on the first unit.