The season is still a ways away, but most of the rosters are set, barring the requisite Michael Jordan comeback rumor (just kidding, but only a little). We have an idea where our team stands, but we can't really know unless we discuss everyone else. In that spirit, I'm going to throw up a "competition discussion" thread for each of the other 29 teams over the next couple months or so. We'll go in alphabetical order from A to Z. Today's team: Golden State. Jump to the comments to discuss the Warriors and make a prediction on their record.
Last year's record: 29-53 (Pythagorean record: 31-51)
Offensive Rating: 109.5 (9th)
Defensive Rating: 113.3 (28th)
Pace: 98.2 possessions/game (1st)
Projected starting lineup:
- After his public request to be traded, will Stephen Jackson indeed be moved? If so, when, where and for what type of package?
- How will Monta Ellis rebound from a pretty dismal year, mostly off the court? How much is the organization behind him? How much does he have a problem with the organization for the way they handled the fallout from the accident? How will all that affect his play?
- Who is calling the shots in the front office? How much will the possible sale of the team affect the on-court product?
- Much has been made of Anthony Randolph's emergence this summer. How much has he actually improved?
- What are the Warriors going to do with Stephen Curry considering they already have Ellis, Kelenna Azubuike and Anthony Morrow at shooting guard (not to mention Jackson and Corey Maggette at small forward)?
- Will the defense be any better this year even though the same coach and most of the same crappy defensive players are back?
- How much will Don Nelson play Andris Biedrins? For that matter, how much will he play anyone over 6'9'' on the roster?
- What direction will the team go? They have tons of young talent and several expiring contracts, but will they want to use them?
It’s very easy to talk about Golden State and just plug in a few stereotypes in lieu of analysis. "Dysfunctional." "Pathetic." "A joke." "Selfish." I’m going to try to avoid that as much as possible.
But you know what, to a large degree, that stuff is true. Just this summer, the Warriors fired their puppet GM, saw rumors swirl about them trading their star player and re-signed their captain only to see him demand a trade. Meanwhile, owner Chris Cohan reportedly wants to sell the team, but won’t accept a discounted rate even in this bad economy. Or maybe he doesn’t want to sell. Who knows.
And that’s just off the court. On the court, Don Nelson will have to figure out a way to incorporate all those shooters, guards and swingmen into a coherent offense that actually has some continuity and a defense that actually guards people. The problem is that coherence and Don Nelson never go in the same sentence. Neither has defense, at least recently. Nelson also exhibited some strange coaching last year, randomly benching veterans like Jamal Crawford and Andris Biedrins when the team fell out of contention.
Even with all of that, the Warriors will certainly be interesting. They played fairly well down the stretch, giving them some momentum heading into the offseason. Ellis can’t possibly be as bad as he was last year, and much of Golden State’s struggles came when he was still recovering from his motorcycle crash. Crawford’s spot in the rotation has been replaced by rookie Stephen Curry, which should be an upgrade. Anthony Randolph also had an eye-opening summer and could be in a position to really break out, depending on where he actually plays. If Biedrins plays enough minutes, if Corey Maggette bounces back, if Jackson’s minutes get scaled down so his efficiency can improve, if they find a way to give Anthony Morrow more minutes, etc, well this might be a playoff team.
But that’s a lot of ifs, and I don’t have too much faith in Nelson solving them. At the end of the day, the personnel is basically the same this year as it was last year, unless Jackson is traded and/or a major move is made. Internal development and Ellis’ return should push this team a little bit beyond where they were last year, but I don’t think it’ll be by that much.
Mike’s prediction: 31-51, 4th in the Pacific, 11th in the West.
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