Warriors Season Preview: They are deeper than ever, but can they repeat?

With the NBA season set to tip-off I will go ahead and give you guys a little season preview for our NBA World Champions Golden State Warriors.

Additions:

Jason Thompson

Kevon Looney

Ian Clark

Subtractions:

David Lee

Ognjen Kuzmic

Justin Holiday

We’ll start off with the strength of our team the guards.

1st unit:

PG Stephen Curry – The reigning NBA MVP has a lot to prove this season.  With a lot of players coming out and stating that he didn’t deserve the award.  Steph will be going out there night after night proving why he’s the reigning NBA MVP.  With addition of Steve Nash to the staff look for Curry to improve his point guard skills.  He already possesses the deadliest shot in the NBA and already sick ball handling skills.  Improving those skills along with his improvement of making his teammates better Curry will be up there with the names of Harden, James, and Durant for MVP talks.  Curry will also be looking to break NBA records that he already owns.

SG Klay Thompson – Klay had a breakout season last year and he looks to improve even more this season.  Last season Klay impressed everyone with his defensive skills.  Coming out of college he was known for his shooting ability, but Klay has progressed in every aspect of the game each season.  Spending the summer with team USA could have contributed with his improvements last season.  Klay will need to stay consistent in order for the Warriors to win.

2nd unit:

PG/SG Shaun Livingston – Shaun revived his NBA career last season coming to the Warriors and playing a key role on the team.  He provided a bigger bodied guard to play defense on the more physical point guards in the league. He also provided another ball handler and decision maker on the floor when Curry needed a rest.  He also played a lot of minutes along side Curry.  When both were in the game together Curry was able to play off the ball and Livingston would make the decisions.  Look for Shaun to improve his jump shot this season.  Word for the coaching staff is that they would like Shaun to starting shooting from behind the arc.  Shaun has proven he can back down on the post and score with his height.

PG/SG Leandro Barbosa – The Brazilian blur is coming back this season and that’s a good thing for the Warriors.  Barbosa provided a scoring punch from the bench last season.  He hopes to continue this season as he will come off the bench to spell both Klay and Steph.  He adds another gear for the Warriors and is basically a one man fast break.

Bench:

PG/SG Ian Clark – He was a non roster invitee and was able to survive the competition for the final spot on the Warriors roster.  He will provide another body for the guards.  He will continue to improve his skill set as he will practice with one of the best in the NBA in Stephen Curry.  Look for Ian to get in a few games for a few minutes or maybe get a lot of garbage time if the Warriors are blowing teams out like they did early in the season last year.

Next let’s focus on the forwards:

1st unit:

SF Harrison Barnes –  The general will continue to improve this season as he is due for a contract extension Nov. 3rd.  and if a deal isn’t in place by then he will be a free agent by seasons end.  Harrison has looked great in preseason and is looking to cash in on his improved play.  He has improved his shot beyond the arc and will continue to attack the lane.  The one skill set i wish Barnes would improve is his ball handling.  Once he improves that he will be tough to guard.

PF Draymond Green – The enforcer will be out on the court night after night grinding with the tough ones.  Green will not back down from no one and he’s going to look to improve from last seasons break out year.  Look for him to improve on his defense and be up for consideration for both defensive player of the year and 1st team all defense.  Consistency on offense will be needed from Green if the Warriors want to win games.

2nd unit:

SG/SF Andrea Iguodala – Dre was asked to come off the bench last season by coach Kerr and it proved to set the tone for the Warriors.  The type of unselfishness exhibited by the veteran was well accepted by the team and it continued on to the floor. Dre provided scoring, defense, and rebounding when he was on the court.  He’s also one of the ball handlers when Curry is not on the floor.  His unselfishness and play making ability proved to be big in the NBA Finals as he was named Finals MVP.  He will continue his role and provide the 2nd unit with scoring and play making.

SG/SF Brandon Rush – Rush looked great in preseason and after spending most of last season on the bench he will look to have a bigger role this season.  Rush provides another shooter from the bench and he could see a lot more time than last season.

Bench:

SF/PF Kevon Looney – The youngster from UCLA will be a spectator for most of the season as he will continue to recover from his injury.  He will also look to continue improve his skill set and grow as an NBA player.  He will probably spend most of the time in Santa Cruz.

Now to what I think is key for the Warriors this season the Centers:

1st unit:

C Andrew Bogut- Bogut needs to stay healthy in order for the Warriors to win another title.  He provides that inside defensive presence that the Warriors lacked for many years.  Bogut has already suffered a broken nose and it will look like he will be wearing the protective face mask for the first portion of the season.  Bogut worked on his body this past off-season as he came to camp lighter and quicker.  Look for Bogut to continue to be defensive monster and provide some interior scoring.  The passing ability is what makes Bogut key for the Warriors offense.  Look for him to make some big plays from the post.

2nd unit/Bench:

C Festus Ezeli – Will need to improve his offensive presence down low.  We already know he’s shot blocking machine.  Festus will need to improve his catching ability.  There were  a lot of plays last season where a guard would drive the lane and drop it off to Ezeli, but he wouldn’t be able to make a play because he mishandled the pass.  If he can improve that aspect of his game he will be a force down low.

PF/C Mo Speights – Mo Buckets will continue to exhibit that mid-range jumper of his and continue to provide scoring from the bench.  I’ve heard rumors that Mo Buckets is trying to extend his range to the 3pt line.  If he can hit that shot with consistency it will open up the floor for everyone else on the team.

PF/C Jason Thompson – Brought in to fill in the void with David Lee being traded this off-season.  Jason is still learning the Warriors offense and it could continue during the season.  Look for him to get some decent minutes behind Green and Bogut.  He’s not as polished offensively as David Lee was, but he brings a defensive toughness that David Lee didn’t bring.

SF/PF/C James Michael McAdoo- I didn’t know where to list McAdoo because I believe he’s a tweener between a SF/PF/C. He has the height for a PF/C but has the ball handling and play making ability of a SF.  He will have a bigger role this season with David Lee being traded.  He spent most of the season in Santa Cruz last year.  He has improved his skillset and would like to contribute to the Warriors in a bigger way this season.

I think the biggest question surrounding the Warriors right now is the health of Coach Steve Kerr.  Luke Walton was named interim head coach until Kerr is healthy as he recovers from complication from a back surgery this past offseason.  Can Luke Walton hold down the fort until Kerr returns?  How well will the team respond to Luke’s coaching?  If the Warriors continue to play as if Kerr was running the team I believe they will be fine.  Luke has the NBA pedigree former champion, former player, and son of hall of famer Bill Walton.  So he does have basketball in his blood.  I think they will continue to play as if Kerr was on that bench.  Walton and the rest of the staff has the support of the front office and especially the players.

Season predictions:

Curry – MVP, All NBA 1st team

Klay- All NBA 2nd team

Green – All NBA 1st team defense

Bogut – All NBA 1st team defense

Iguodala –  2nd place 6th man award

Record 63-19

4-2 NBA Finals vs Cavs

Back to Back NBA Champions

It will be difficult for the Warriors to repeat as everything will need to go their way.  They will need to stay healthy and consistent.   They will need to continue to play tough defense and play unselfish basketball.  Everyone in the NBA will be gunning for them as they have a huge target on their backs.  Especially in the Western conference with teams like the Spurs, Rockets, Clippers, Thunder and Grizzlies.  All these teams have made decent improvements this offseason.  The Spurs with Aldridge, Clippers with Pierce and Stephenson, Thunder with a healthy Westbrook and Durant and also added a new head coach, and the Grizzlies also improving this season.  It will be a daunting task for the Warriors this season, but I believe they have the roster depth, the coaching staff, and of course the best fans in the NBA to power them through the grind of repeating as NBA champions!

 

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