Season Preview: Golden State Warriors

Team History:

The Golden State Warriors began as the Philadelphia Warriors, then San Francisco Warriors, and then they were the Golden State Warriors. In their time, they have had hall of fame players come and go, break and hold NBA records, and be the best and one of the worst teams in the NBA. Obviously, they have quite a bit of history to go along with that terrible logo that they sport (what is that, something from The Watchmen?).

They were the team that Wilt Chamberlain (you may have heard of him) played for when he scored an unbelievable 100 points in one game. They traded him away and drafted Rick Barry, who is considered one of the best small forwards of all time. There were other notable instances of success for the Warriors before a few years ago, Don Nelson led a young team with Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, Latrell Sprewell, and Chris Webber at various times leading the charge.

Recently, the Warriors have been known for a frenzied pace on offense, focusing entirely on scoring and foregoing any defense. This style hardly ever produces serious contenders besides the Suns, but worked extremely well when the Warriors upset the top seed Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 2007 Western Conference Playoffs. Since that time, expectations rose, but play deteriorated to the point that the Warriors were in the draft lottery this most recent season.

2008-09 Record: 29-53, 3rd place in the Pacific Division, 10th place in the Western Conference

Coach: Don Nelson

Projected Lineup:

  • PG: Stephen Curry – The idea of Curry, a terrific shooter, playing point guard is still iffy for me. I realize he played some point in college, but he seems to be better suited as a longer ranged Rip Hamilton. Plus, playing in tandem with Monta Ellis, a fellow combo guard, makes this duo a deadly combination and one that makes no sense at all.
  • SG: Monta Ellis – As discussed above, Ellis is a combo guard in the mold of Dwyane Wade or Ben Gordon.  He seems to be a prolific scorer, capable of averaging over 20 PPG over the course of a season. He can switch with Curry during the course of a game, playing the point for long stretches at a time.
  • SF: Stephen Jackson – Okay, so that happened. Jackson, as was reported here, was fined for requesting a trade to a contender and away from the struggling Warriors. Still, coach Don Nelson has claimed that all is well and plans on having Jackson still be the team captain.
  • PF: Anthony Randolph – I’m not really sure if Randolph will start, but given all of the hype surrounding his offseason and talent, he should. Randolph has had a lot of people say a lot of good things about him, which is eerily similar to what was happening last year. If everything turns out well, he could be the next Amar’e Stoudemire (yes, that good). If not, he will be an athletic monster who is viewed as an underachiever (kind of like Tyrus Thomas).
  • C: Andris Bierdins – He can score, as can everyone else on the Warriors. He plays center for the team, averaging over 10 PPG for Golden State.

Key Gains:

  • Stephen Curry – The point/shooting guard from Davidson is the son of former NBA player Dell Curry. Like his father, he can shoot extremely well, as has been documented. He figures to be a major part of the Warriors plans for the future, fulfilling the shooting (not guard) role in the high paced Warriors offense.

Key Losses:

  • Jamal Crawford – A talented player who seems to always be on a losing team (coincidence?). Crawford was traded to the Hawks for guards Acie Law and Speedy Claxton. Stephen Curry and his enormous potential will hopefully fill his loss.
  • Marco Belinelli – He really didn’t do much for the Warriors, playing in barely over half of the games. However, he averaged just under 9 PPG when he did play in a very limited role.

Season Preview:

I think the Warriors’ season is going to be very similar to a Michael Bay movie: a lot of flashy explosions, very shiny, very hyped, a huge budget, but in the end, it will be a disappointment. There will be many games, almost all of them, that have a final score above the 100 point mark. Various players will have career highs in points, and career lows in defense. But, in the end, I doubt they will do very much.

Their offseason started almost spectacularly with a rumored trade that would bring Amar’e Stoudemire over from the Suns in exchange for Stephen Curry, Andris Bierdins, Brendan Wright, and maybe one other player. This would have been a dream come true for many Warriors fans and a worst case scenario for Suns fans. The amount of athleticism and power that a front-court of Amar’e and Anthony Randolph (basically an Amar’e clone without the knowledge of domination) could have produced would have been frightening and exhilarating at the same time (imagine lions hunting).

In addition to that, recent comments made by Stephen Jackson and Monta Ellis have the whole situation in Golden State very much in doubt. Jackson reaffirmed his desire to be traded and Ellis claimed that a backcourt of he and Curry will not work. Just when I thought that they could not get any more dysfunctional, they go and pull a stunt like this. Not that Ellis is wrong in his thought process, because I am tempted to agree with the man. It would be hard to have your guard positions filled by two men, neither of which is a true point guard, and neither of which is a pure shooting guard (maybe Curry, but he doesn’t have a lot of size).

Jackson, the “team captain”, requesting a trade isn’t the worst thing that could happen to this team, but it is probably up there. I’m not sure of the dynamics of the locker room for this particular Warriors team, if Jackson is even held to what his status implies, but it can’t help the morale of the team if their supposed leader wants out of the situation because he doesn’t think he can win there. Other than that though, the Warriors are fine.

They are a weird team, constructed by a mad man (Nelson) to essentially create havoc around the league. They didn’t win 30 games last year, but had to deal with injuries to key players (Monta). The return of Ellis from injury should, in theory, help the Warriors, but they are indeed a strange team. They are a team full of questions and surprises, so I wouldn’t be surprised no matter what they do. I could see them squeaking into the playoffs with the eighth seed, or having a repeat performance of last year trying to fit all of their pieces together into an ill-fitting puzzle.

Quote this:

The New York thing got a little out of hand, and in some ways that kind of dulled some excitement when I was drafted by Golden State … But the systems are very similar and I’m excited to be here.

– Stephen Curry

Recap:

  1. Sacramento Kings
  2. Washington Wizards
  3. Los Angeles Clippers
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder
  5. Memphis Grizzlies
  6. Minnesota Timberwolves
  7. Golden State Warriors
  8. New York Knicks
  9. Toronto Raptors
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