Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Warriors Look to Continue Winning Ways

This NBA off-season has been wildly entertaining. Dwight Howard finally (3 years later) made a decision that actually makes sense for his career, Josh Smith signed with Detroit, the Nets added Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce while the Boston Celtics imploded their roster, and most recently the Pistons performed a sign-and-trade to bring Brandon Jennings into the fold. 

However, the team that I really cannot wait to watch this season is the Golden State Warriors. Many considered them to be losers of the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, but in my mind, adding Dwight Howard would have completely changed the direction of this Warriors team. Instead of being the exciting run and gun snipers from long-range led by Steph Curry, they would have had to reconfigure the offense around Dwight Howard, which could have turned them into the new and improved 2009 Orlando Magic. Yes, that Magic team was fun to watch and almost won the NBA Championship, but this Warriors team just finished a deep playoff run doing it their way, and instead of throwing a offensively challenged center who is a liability down the stretch in close games because of poor free throw shooting, they went out and got better by adding pieces that fit into and improve the system they already have in place.

Let's take a look at the moves the Warriors made.

Here is the eight-man rotation the Warriors used late in the 2012-13season and playoffs (before David Lee got hurt).

PG- Steph Curry
SG- Klay Thompson
SF- Harrison Barnes
PF- David Lee
C-Andrew Bogut
6th Man- Jarrett Jack (PG)
Role-Carl Landry (PF)
Role-Draymond Green (Let's call him a SF?)

In maybe one of the most underrated moves of the off-season, the Warriors traded away the contracts of Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush to the Utah Jazz for next to nothing. This move allowed them to free up enough cap space to become a real contender in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes but instead, the opted for signing small forward Andre Iguodala from the Denver Nuggets.

Adding Andre Iguodala was a genius move for the organization. The Warriors needed another play-maker alongside Curry and Iguodala offers that. He is an above average rebounder and passer who will be able to attack the hoop and lead the break for this team. Not only is he a perfect fit on the court, but he brings his veteran leadership to a team who seemed overwhelmed at times late in games against the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs. He will be a calming influence and will allow Harrison Barnes to develop more this season in a slightly lesser role until he is ready for a bigger role. 

The Warriors allowed Jarrett Jack to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers, leaving a hole at their backup point guard position, but the Warriors did about as well as they could this off-season in terms of signing a backup point guard when they signed Toney Douglas from the Sacramento Kings. Douglas is a slight downgrade from Jack, but he is a formidable replacement at worst.

The Warriors then opted to let Carl Landry go to the Kings for more money than Golden State thought he was worth. They are hoping the newly signed duo of Jermaine O'Neal and Marreese Speights will be able to make up for the loss of Landry and these two should be more than sufficient.

Let's take a look at the rotation that the Warriors will likely enter the 2013-14 campaign with:

PG- Steph Curry
SG- Klay Thompson
SF- Andre Iguodala
PF-David Lee
C- Andrew Bogut
6th Man- Harrison Barnes (SF)
Role- Marreese Speights (PF)
Role- Toney Douglas (PG)
Role- Jermaine O'Neal (C)
Role-Draymond Green (SF?)

As you can see, the Warriors not only improved their starting lineup with the addition of Iguodala, but they deepened their bench by moving Barnes to the bench and signing Speights, Douglas and O'Neal.

I admire the Warriors for sticking to their system and acquiring players that fit into that system rather than signing the best available players and then figuring out a system that would work with those players. 

This is something that has become a rarity among NBA franchises but the prospects of the Warriors future have me extremely excited to watch the Curry and the crew get after it this season.


Jacob Padilla said...

I can't wait to see these guys play. Steph, Klay and Iguodala is going to be a lot of fun to watch and those three should fit together perfectly.

Douglas is definitely a downgrade from Jack, but Jack's tendency to play hero ball late in games instead of letting Steph touch the ball burned them as much as it helped. Douglas is a more of 3-and-D guy, although he's been asked to do more than that thus far in his career. Play him alongside Steph or Iguodala and that won't be a problem.

The loss of Festus Ezeli will hurt early on, but Jermaine O'Neal was a great pick-up for them if he can stay healthy away from the Phoenix trainers.

There is no doubt this team is a major injury risk, with Andrew Bogut and Jermaine O'Neal as the primary C rotation and Steph's ankles, but if they can stay healthy they have a chance to earn home court advantage in the first round in what should be a really competitive Western Conference.

Jacob Noble said...

Going to be interesting, at first I didn't like them letting Landry and Jack go but they made up for it.

Robert Schmitt said...

Good article. Wow, the Warriors team looks good! Iguodala is able to play shooting guard, small forward, point guard and defend power forwards. In addition, Speights, O'Neal and Douglas, are each able to play multiple positions, as does Curry, Thompson, Barnes, Lee, Green, Ezeli (when he returns from his injury) and Bazemore. Coach Jackson should have fun this year getting creative with the umpteen different player combinations. We'll see who actually starts. I think Barnes will start several games at either small forward or stretch 4. Perhaps it's more important to talk about who will be playing in the 4th quarter when the game is on the line.

Joe Sobczyk said...

Thanks Robert! I like your point about the flexibility this roster offers Jackson. It will be really interesting to see how you uses all of his guys, including how they will cut down their rotation a little come playoff time because you can't be playing 10 or 11 guys a lot of minutes in huge games.

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