“Golden Gate” emerged last year as what many called the most exciting team to watch in the league. From Stephen Curry’s classic 54-point performance at Madison Square Garden to Golden State’s shooting clinic in the 2013 playoffs, this team was just amusing to watch. This is the type of team you would skip class just to watch play (don’t go out skipping class, kids. It’s bad for you.) With all that said, let’s talk about how Golden State’s recent success might carry over in the 2013-14 season:
Guards (A-): Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Toney Douglas, Kent Bazemore, Nemanja Nedovic
The Warriors actually lost depth in the backcourt by letting sixth man and 4th quarter standout Jarrett Jack walk. However, they did get a move valuable player in return for him in Andre Iguodala. I was thinking about dropping the guards’ grade down to a “B+,” but with a backcourt of Curry and Thompson, I just couldn’t. Curry is a phenomenal shooter with in the gym range and showed a lot of improvement getting to the hoop last year. Unfortunately for Klay, he’s just the second best shooter on this team. On most teams he would probably be number one. With that said, Curry does create a lot of open looks for Thompson as Curry often has the defense draped all over him. Golden State’s backups don’t excite me too much. Douglas is good for about 10 minutes a game but doesn’t make too much of an impact when playing big minutes. Kent Bazemore is more of an energy player who converts on athletic-looking circus shots once in a while.
Forwards (A): Andre Iguodala, David Lee, Harrison Barnes, Marreese Speights, Draymond Green
The Warriors’ forwards roll five deep. All these guys deserve a respectable amount of playing time. The addition of Andre Iguodala takes away the usage of Draymond Green for locking down defenders, which Green did last year for the Warriors. Green should still find a handful of minutes because his substantial effort cannot be overstated. As well as being a premiere one-on-one defender, Iggy gives Golden State a wing who can run the floor along with Curry and the rest of them. I almost forgot to mention David Lee earned a trip to the 2012 NBA All-Star Game. Lee is just an average defender but he rebounds as well as anyone his size. Last year, Lee averaged 20 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per 40 minutes. Lee is basically a walking double-double. If the Warriors are in any more need of power forward help, Speights provides them with a dead-on mid-range shooter.
Centers (B-): Andrew Bogut, Jermaine O’Neal, Ognjen Kuzmic, Festus Ezeli (IR)
I think the Warriors wrapped around a certain concept in last year’s playoffs: Andrew Bogut is a pretty good center…when healthy. Much of Bogut’s career has been plagued by longterm injuries. Bogut finally made his way back at the end of the year after missing a couple seasons due to microfracture surgery. Jermaine O’Neal’s best days are behind him but he has struggled with the same issues. Most importantly, the Warriors need Bogut to stay healthy and be their man-in-the-middle. We saw what kind of impact he made in last year’s playoffs, grabbing offensive rebounds left and right as well as consistently finishing off passes from teammates.
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Defense (B+): The Warriors will definitely remain playing at a West coast, high tempo stlye of play, which usually can hurt the defense. But especially with the addition of first-class defensive product Iguodala, Golden State should be a competitive defensive team if it’s players sprint back in transition. Andrew Bogut also makes a big difference on the defensive end, making it pretty difficult for opponents to get shots off with the space he takes up as well as his seven foot frame.
Shooting (A): They have Stephen Curry (and Klay Thompson.) It’s a dynamite shooting attack. What else needs to be said?
Experience (B+): As of last season, Stephen Curry has officially learned how to make the best of his abilities in the pros. Curry’s also had a bit of trouble staying healthy in the last couple seasons. But even on sprained ankles, Curry is capable of getting buckets. Lee, Bogut, Iggy; all those guys are plenty experienced.
Standing – 5th West: This Golden State team has finally found the recipe to being a championship contender. We’ll see if they can actually make it happen someday. Although Golden State only put together a pretty good season last year, it’s really hard to imagine it taking a step back with Curry keeping the boat afloat.