Time to Believe in the Golden State Warriors? Season Preview

There’s a lot riding on those ankles.

Starting Five: PG Stephen Curry, SG Klay Thompson, SF Harrison Barnes, PF David Lee, C Andrew Bogut

Key Bench Players: PG Jarret Jack, C Andris Biedrins, SF Richard Jefferson, PF Carl Landry, SG Brandon Rush, SF Draymond Green, C Festus Ezeli

Key Additions: C Andrew Bogut, SF Harrison Barnes, SF Draymond Green, PG Jarret Jack




Key Departures: SF Dorrell Wright, G Monta Ellis, PG Nate Robinson, SF Dominic McGuire, C Kwame Brown (SIKE!)

Like so many Golden State Warriors teams of years past, the 2012-2013 squad has accumulated a lot of interesting parts with more questions on how they fit together. There’s no question that the franchise is taking meaningful steps to right the ship. The new ownership is an improvement and they seem to have a real plan in place, but it’s unclear how much that will pay off this season. 

Coach Mark Jackson looks like he will be able to get his team to play hard, even if he’s still learning how to teach the X’s and O’s. Shipping out Monta Ellis (although it was technically last year) for Andrew Bogut could be a franchise-altering move that allowed them to get real value in return for one of the league’s most puzzling players. No one in Golden State is kidding themselves that they have a championship team this year, but they certainly have a promising core and young talent that they can build on if this team starts taking steps in the right direction. As usual, the recipe for success is having healthy stars and reliable contributions from role players. 
Unfortunately for the Warriors, their biggest injury risks are Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut, who are both game changers when healthy and the future of the franchise. If Bogut works out, the Ellis trade will be a beautiful gamble. Bogut can hold his own offensively, but more importantly he is among the best defensive centers in the league and should provide a perfect complement for David Lee in the frontcourt. Similarly, a healthy Curry has few peers in the L when it comes to playmaking or offensive ability. The Warriors also smartly brought in new back-ups for each in the offseason, trading for the very solid Jarrett Jack and drafting Festus Ezeli at the center position.

Although it hurts to lose Dorrell Wright and the defensive stylings of Dominic McGuire, Brandon Rush finally put it together last year and looks ready for a bigger role. Harrison Barnes appears ready to start right now, which is great news for a team that should desperately want to avoid starting Richard Jefferson. Carl Landry is no defensive ace, but he’s a great scorer off the bench and a very good signing for the Warriors. If Klay Thompson can build off of his promising rookie year and Draymond Green contributes, the Warriors could be legitimately 10 deep with young legs. This is a coin flip of a roster that could be fighting for the playoffs or considering tanking for a higher lottery pick come next March.

Best Case Scenario: Everyone stays healthy, the young talent continues to develop, and their rookies can contribute this season. Curry’s unselfish playmaking galvanizes the offense and the Warriors improve on last year’s 11th ranked offense. Defensively, Bogut anchors things nicely and the team defense becomes respectable (last year’s anemic performance notwithstanding). The Warriors sneak in the playoffs as a 7 seed, but lose to the second-seed in 5 games. Their performance leads to a lot of optimism about the 2013-2014. 

We want to see as little of this suit as possible, Andrew.
                                  
Absolute Apocalypse: This one is easy. Injuries to both Bogut and Curry ensure that this is one of the worst rosters in the league. The Warriors pack in well before the trade deadline and start to sell off assets in anticipation of another rebuild. Hope turns toward the lottery as the Warriors hope they can snag the number one pick 2013.

Expected Finish: 3rd in the Pacific Division, 11th in the Western Conference

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