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NBA 2015-16 Team Previews: Golden State Warriors – All Hail The Champs

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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Golden Stare Warriors

Our NBA 2015-16 Team Previews continues with the Pacific Division. Next up it’s time to break down the Golden State Warriors:

Record:  (67-15) 10th in the Western Conference, 3rd in Pacific Division, Failed to make playoffs


Rank: Offense: 109.7 (2) Defense: 98.2 (1) Differential/Net: plus +11.4 (1) Pace: 100.7 (1)

2014-15

Key Stats:

  • Reigning MVP Stephen Curry posted solid numbers: 23.8 points, 7.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game while also shooting 44.3% from behind the arc and set and NBA record connecting on 286 three point shots
  • Rarely does a team finish in the top 3 of both offense and defense and the Warriors came close to topping the boards in both
  • When a team wins 67 games, ranks first in defense and pace and second in offense it’s actually more difficult than you would imagine to find any concerning stats so lets let these numbers resonate instead.

Off Season Moves

Key Areas Needing Addressing:

  • Replicating last season’s effort
  • Maintaining an even emotional level after winning to stay focused
  • Staying healthy

Draft:  Kevon Looney selected 30th in first round

Player Additions/Players Re-Signed:

Players Exiting:

2015-16

Core Players:

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison BarnesDraymond Green, Andrew Bogut

Key Reserves:  Andre Iguodala, Festus Ezeli,  Shaun Livingston, Marreese Speights

Outlook

Rising Star: Festus Ezeli missed much of his early playing time with the Warriors due to injury, but he’s got a motor and is the heir apparent to Bogut. Watch for him to get additional minutes this season in an effort to build his confidence and to develop consistency in the Warrior schemes.

On The Bubble:

Recognizing a team who wins 67 games and actually improves with who leaves (David Lee) it’s a bit of a stretch to find someone on the bubble, but if the Warriors don’t get the rookie extension deal done with Harrison Barnes it will add a little pressure to his situation or it cause him to receive a max contract on the open market the Dubs would have to match. Likewise for Ezeli (but less so).

The other player I’m personally interesting is observing (NOT UNTIL APRIL) is Klay Thompson who plays great during the season and also has good playoffs (in stretches), but he disappeared in the Finals. He did the same thing a few years back versus the Spurs after a break out game when they applied pressure on him. He’s one of the more vocal players on the Dubs and apparently was the player (along with Green) who got annihilated at their post party.

As for Green he not only has earned the right to chatter, it suits him. Thompson is definitely an amazing player and has one of the smoothest strokes I’ve ever seen, but I’m not convinced he should rank higher than 5th on the team in  terms of pecking order (for the record the 4 ahead of him would be Curry, Green, Iguodala and Bogut) because who is to say Harrison Barnes couldn’t fulfill the role Thompson does if he becomes a better 3-point shooter and a little better defensively?

It’s splicing atoms at this point though, because this team is loaded and their chemistry is unparalleled

X-Factor:

I finished typing chemistry and the first name that pops in my head is: Draymond Green who naturally fits this category. Sure I could extol on the height and versatility of Shaun Livingston, speed of Barbosa or Kerrs ability to adapt during games, but I can’t write a Warriors preview without dedicating at least one segment to Draymond Green. I jumped on his fan train even before he became a starter because I loved what I saw out of him.

What added to my fandom was Ethan Strauss who writes some amazing articles about the Dubs with many highlighting details on Green. My favorite is How Warriors Built NBA’s Top Defense. It was written prior to the playoffs giving it even more credence, especially an entire segment dedicated to Green in which Strauss highlights as a rookie coaches were amazed during film sessions by  Green’s incredible basketball I.Q. or how  they would defer to him in walk throughs because there were times he understood the situation better than they did! This from a rookie!

Experience is the greatest teacher,” Green likes to say, a phrase that applies to him more than most. His intelligence was obvious to coaches from the outset, back when he was backing up an overmatched Tyler. Erman recalls sitting down for an early summer-league film session with Green and eventually telling the rookie, “I shouldn’t be showing film to you. You should be showing film to me.”
– Strauss

Green has shown coaches a lot over his short career — even as a rookie, he’d speak up in walkthroughs if he knew a scheme better than the guy coaching it.

And it’s not just his smarts, he meshes that with innate leadership that compliments the choir boy Curry and soft spoken assassin Iguodala. Green can yell at the MVP and get away with it because Curry respects him and he backs it up on the court. Every Warrior knows Draymond would kill for them and it shows by the way they look at him when he talks.

Green is a natural born leader born in a body that didn’t seem to fit the role he was suppose to play which pinpoints a third area that makes him a constant x-factor: his motor, tenacity and commitment to improve.  I’ll leave you with a quote from Strauss’ article that sums up everything about Draymond Green’s tenacity:

Based on draft analysts’ predictions, Green’s career has been remarkable. After a brilliant defensive performance against Dallas, Green told me what he recalled from those projections. “They said I fell in the draft because, ‘What position would I guard?‘ I’ll never forget that.” – Green/Strauss

Best Case:    Simple: they repeat

Worst Case:  Simple: They don’t repeat (or suffer a key player injury)

Prediction:

Bottom line the Warriors are the Champions so small tweaks were all that was needed and to retain key players (Green being in my opinion the most important). They also made small tweaks outside the line-up like hiring former MVP Steve Nash as a Player Development Consultant. A savvy move since he can help expand Curry’s passing game and was notorious for the off court work he put in to his game.

While I anticipate another solid season from the Warriors it’s also a given every team in the Association will be amped to play them this season. Factor in the Warriors were extremely lucky on the health front last season and I don’t expect them to repeat as Western Conference top seeds. They’ll be in the upper echelon but the improved Spurs, Rockets, Thunder and Clipper squads will all be vying to make sure they don’t finish as the top seed.

Can't wait to see all of #DubNation in less than 24 hours

In truth the Warriors had little to do this off season other than get some rest and continue their individual/team growth. The coaches likely had more work to do to prepare for adjustments the league will make after studying their film all summer. The real aspect of winning for the Dubs became more psychological than emotional or physical with the mouth pieces on the Clippers and Doc spouting about how they were lucky to win and then others jumping on that band wagon.

Sure, Doc you were taken out of context, why is it every year you end up saying that?  Are the beat writers in LA that consistently wrong? And are the camera lenses in Hollywood capable of changing the words that you say… well I guess they are, but you get my point.

#WeLoveLA #LAC #Clippers Are The Warriors Too Sensitive? Clippers Coach Doc Rivers Thinks So https://t.co/2TwcGIMIGT #SportsRoadhouse

— LosAngelesSRH (@LosAngelesSRH) October 22, 2015

Doc planted that seed about the team and then said they were too sensitive hoping to fuel the already existing feud between the squads and then hoped his team would take advantage when GSW got shaken. News flash, not very much shakes the Warriors.

For the most part the Warriors took the high road when they received criticism for their win this off season especially from other players or teams. Leadership triumvirate Draymond Green, Iggy and Bogie are there to keep everyone focused and now they have a slew of youth with not only experience but a championship as well. Memphis wasn’t a  walk in the park for Golden State to get past and Houston beat teams all season with a squad featuring less so people need to get over it.

Perhaps the glut of activity this off season diminished what Golden State accomplished last season.. 67 wins is huge! Having the best pace, defense and second best offense is huge. Winning the championship their first time out with so many youngsters is HUGE!

Now…. can they do it all over again? Maybe.

All the top West teams got better in the off season, but the Warriors have a youthful core not yet in their prime so that won’t be the separator. The factor which will is desire and motivation. Looking at the top teams each has their own to pull from:

  • The Clippers though feuding with GSW have more angst toward the Rockets
  • Ditto for the Spurs vs. the Clippers (and the desire to get Aldridge his first title)
  • The Rockets are the first of the power teams who have a specific vendetta against the Warriors which has added emphasis given Harden’s belief he was robbed of the MVP
  • Memphis also has personal reason to want to beat the Dubs

But the one team who has reason to beat them all and has publicly said they “took notes on the punking going on last season” is the Thunder. Westbrook and Durant look primed and angry which is a lethal combination.

Games versus the Houston Rockets

  • October 30th at Toyota Center in Houston
  • December 31st at Toyota Center in Houston
  • February 9th at Oracle Arena in Oakland

Fansided Affiliate Site:  Blue Man Hoop

Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our SCS Round Table Sessions to help you get through the early season. Start your morning with SCS Rocket Science Daily and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.

Next: Rockets Preview

Next: Clippers Preview

Next: SCS Complete Round Table Sessions

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