This isn’t a full-blown season preview; that won’t come until much closer to the start of the season. But, I do feel optimistic about the Warriors’ odds of improving this season, so I thought I’d share some of the reasoning. Optimistic about improvement doesn’t mean I think the Warriors will win 40+ games this season and challenge for the playoffs. This team still has a lot of question marks that need to be answered before we start thinking along those lines. I’m thinking a win total in the 30s with a little positive momentum to end the season. That would be improvement from the prior season, which would reverse a two-season trend.
Stephen Curry: Curry was the best thing about last season’s team and he tops the list of reasons for hope this coming season. Curry surprised pretty much everybody with the quality of his rookie season. An efficient scorer, elite shooter and unselfish player who looks for his teammates and he’s a locker room leader? I know I didn’t expect as much from Curry. To improve his sophomore season, Curry needs to cut down on his turnovers and improve his defense. He’s worked hard this offseason and should benefit from observing the effective habits of his Team USA teammates. I expect Curry to further entrench himself as the unquestioned leader of the Warriors this season, which can only mean good things for the team.
New ownership: The benefits of the demise of the Cohan era might not be felt this coming season as much as they will in seasons to come. Moving forward, I think Lacob can build a positive foundation this season that will benefit the team in the future. One of the best things I read from his exhaustive interview with Tim Kawakami (if you haven’t read the interview yet (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), you must … and kudos to Kawakami for transcribing the near-7,000-word interview for his readers) is that Lacob understands the Warriors’ need for a legitimate post game, on offense and defense. I am so tired of watching small ball. It doesn’t work most of the time and when it does, never on a championship level. It’s time to cleanse the Warriors of their gimmicky persona and start building a team that can grow towards championship contention. The Warriors aren’t there yet, not even close. But I feel that the Warriors finally have an owner who might have an idea of how to guide his franchise in that direction.
David Lee: Lee isn’t perfect. I don’t think he’ll ever be the kind of post player Lacob spoke of during the interview, one who plays offense and defense in the post. But, he is the best big man the Warriors have had in years. It’s been a long time since the Warriors had a legitimate scoring and rebounding power forward. Gone are the days of Corey Maggette starting at power forward (seriously?), and that is such a wonderful thing. Lee will excel on offense and rebounding for the Warriors. I would be very surprised if his career-high numbers from last season (20.2 points, 11.7 rebounds) take much of a dip. He’s going to thrive playing with a point guard like Curry and unless the Warriors dump Nelson and hire a coach that slows down the offense considerably, the Warriors’ pace will provide plenty of rebound opportunities for Lee. Again, there probably won’t be a lot of defense to cheer, but Lee’s many strengths (rebounding, scoring, passing, toughness, grit) make up for that.
A little defense: I crave a Warriors team that plays defense. The Warriors won’t be good on defense this season, but I expect a better effort than last season. Granted, that’s not a difficult task. The Warriors were so bad last season, it would be hard not to improve. But, Lee’s rebounding, a (cross-your-fingers) healthy Andris Biedrins, the potential of young defensive players like Dorell Wright and Ekpe Udoh, and the possibility of a new coach sometime this season who will increase the team’s emphasis on defense, all lead to the conclusion that the Warriors should be slightly less offensive on that end of the court.
What do you think? Do you agree/disagree with my reasoning? Do you have other reasons you feel optimistic about the Warriors? Or do you not feel optimistic about this team? Like I wrote before, there are a lot of question marks (Monta Ellis, health, Don Nelson, lack of depth, tough schedule, etc.). Can the Warriors find answers?