It’s finally here dub nation, your 2013/2014 Golden State Warriors are about to start their most hyped season since George W. Bush’s father was President. Last season’s surprising young squad has transformed into a legitimate title contender this season. Not only will the Warriors be a year wiser but they have added Team USA defender Andre Iguodala. Expect the Golden State Warriors to end the season as the kings of California and possibly one of the last four teams standing in the playoffs.
One of the most important pieces to the Warriors this season will be Aussie center Andrew Bogut. Joe Lacob and the Warriors management felt so confident in Bogut that they gave him a three year contract extension before the season started. If the former number one pick can stay healthy for at least 65-70 games the Warriors should be in good position come playoff time. However, we all know that Bogut is as fragile as Stephen Curry’s ankles so his health will be a big question mark.
To ease the pain of a Bogut injury, the Warriors signed the ancient Jermaine O’Neal to back him up. Last season, O’Neal had a career resurgence with the lowly Suns so he should be a reliable backup until Festus Ezeli comes back later in the season.
The forgotten superstar on the Warriors squad is all-star power forward David Lee. For some reason, many people have dismissed Lee’s accomplishments last season. At big spurts of last season, Lee was the most valuable player on the Warriors. Not only did Lee improve his defense but his mid-range jump shot became almost automatic. Although the Splash Brothers will carry the team at many points of the season, three point shooters do get cold from time to time which will make Lee the focal point of the offense. Expect Lee to once again be a double-double machine especially because he won’t have to be a pseudo-defensive center this year.
Former enemy Andre Iguodala will be the answer to many of the Warriors problems from last year. Not only is Iggy one of the top defenders in the league but he can also facilitate the rock on offense. Iguodala will essentially play point-forward and will replace Jarret Jack’s as the team’s ball handler down the stretch of games. The fact that Iguodala will control the rock will allow Stephen Curry to move off the ball to find open shots. Obviously, Iguodala was brought on board to help solidify the Warriors mediocre defense. Imagine what the Warriors defense will look like now that Iguodala will lock down Tony Parker, Kevin Durant and James Harden, instead of Klay Thompson.
The heart and soul of the 2013/2014 Warriors will reside with the splash brothers, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Stephen Curry is no longer the hidden superstar in the Bay Area, ESPN just ranked Curry as the sixth best player in the NBA and now the pressure of the Bay Area is on Curry’s shoulders. With the addition of Iggy, Curry will not have to guard top tier point guards nor distribute the rock as much. This will allow Curry to focus on scoring 24-26 points per game for the Dubs. The Warriors brass must do everything possible to keep Curry and his ankles healthy for the majority of the season for the Dubs to have any chance of winning the West.
The other splash brother Klay Thompson was frustratingly inconsistent last season for the Warriors. Some games he would look like the second best shooter in the NBA and a above average defender but at other times he looked like a deer lost in the headlights who couldn’t even make a layup. If Thompson can become more consistent this year expect him to get around 17 points per game and become an improved defender.
While many expect the Warriors bench to be weakened by the loss of Jarret Jack and Carl Landry, don’t be surprised to see the fearsome foursome of second year players to lead the way. Forward Harrison Barnes has the potential to be a superstar so it will be exciting to see how he plays as the main scoring option as the 6th man. During the playoffs, Barnes transformed himself into a legitimate scoring option and a potential power forward. If Barnes can continue to improve and bulk up don’t be surprised if he takes David Lee’s spot in the future.
Every championship team needs a gritty street baller who can be the team’s goon in tough games. That player is last year’s second round pick Draymond Green. The big bodied Green has the ability to play both small forward and power forward at different spurts in the game. Although he was an awful shooter last season, he somehow found a shooting stroke in the playoffs. If Green can score a few buckets a game and improve his defense, he will turn himself into a viable 7th man for the Warriors.
Kent Bazemore is probably the most loved bench warmer in NBA history. The undrafted free agent’s celebrations last year made going to a Warriors game a must for many basketball fans. Although Bazemore did not make much of an impact last season, he was a vital locker room presence that made the team stick together. Many forget that Bazemore was almost the hero of game one last season against the Spurs. Bazemore not only made a key defensive stop but made a last second layup that should have won the game for the Warriors. However, a Manu Ginobili three pointer and ear piercing screams from a San Antonio woman led the Spurs to the victory. This offseason, Bazemore showed he was more than a bench prop as he led the Warriors to a Summer League championship. Expect Bazemore to become a key bench defender for this season Warriors.
Expect the Warriors to battle it out with the Los Angeles Clippers for the Pacific Division title this season. If the Warriors can stay healthy and show they are an improved team from last season they should be able to be a top four seed in the West.