Tuesday, October 27, 2015

2015-16 Season Preview: Golden State Warriors

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
[] 67-15
[] Offensive Rating: 112.2 (2nd)
[] Defensive Rating: 101.9 (1st)
[] Net Rating: +10.3 (1st)
[] NBA Champions
[] Coach: Steve Kerr Luke Walton

The reigning NBA champions lost approximately zero impact players from their rotation in the offseason.  That means that no important pieces were lost from a team that posted the league's best Net Rating since the 2007-08 Celtics hit a rating of +11.4.  The main challenge will come this year in the form of a back injury to head coach Steve Kerr.  Kerr suffered the injury during last year's NBA Finals, and it's unknown just how much time he'll actually miss after having surgery.  It's looking like he won't miss too much time, but you have to wonder how much of a dropoff there will be from Kerr to Luke Walton.  Walton's job won't exactly be tough (hint: let Steph Curry do his thing), and I expect Golden State to come out of the ordeal, no matter how long it is, with minimal to no scars.  That's because there's so much talent on this roster that even Mike Brown couldn't screw things up.  Expect the Warriors to hold down the Western Conference's top spot again this year, assuming Steph Curry and Klay Thompson remain healthy.







Projected Starting Five

PG: Steph Curry - 6'3, 185 - 7th NBA season - 2014-15 NBA MVP
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
80
23.8
28.0
28.9%
63.8%
44.3%
.482
91.4%
.251
38.6%
14.3%

Curry won a much-deserved MVP award for his work in the 2014-15 season, scoring with incredible efficiency and putting up good playmaking numbers, all for the league's best squad.  He's obviously the most important piece of this team, and if he comes anywhere close to replicating last year's performance, the Warriors are going to contend for another title.  Golden State is built well from top to bottom, but they're not among the best in the Western Conference without Curry, which probably goes without saying.
SG: Klay Thompson - 6'7, 205 - 5th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
77
24.5
20.8
27.6%
59.1%
43.9%
.420
87.9%
.197
14.6%
9.5%

Thompson is the perfect complement to Curry, because you can't give him even a little space.  This will be his 5th year in the league, and he's yet to shoot below 40% from beyond the arc, despite a high number of attempts.  On top of that, he's improved his scoring inside the arc in each of the last two seasons.  He does enough from a playmaking standpoint to be considered a positive in that regard, and he's well-respected around the league for his defense.  If you're taking both ends of the court into consideration, he's no worse than the 2nd-best SG in the game.
SF: Harrison Barnes - 6'8, 210 - 4th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
82
10.1
13.4
14.9%
57.3%
40.5%
.328
72.0%
.229
6.9%
9.0%

Barnes improved his scoring efficiency in his third season in the league, making big leaps in terms of shooting percentages inside and beyond the long line.  He might not shoot above 40% from the three point line again, but if he can shoot above 50% inside the arc and routinely get to the line, he'll maintain his value.  His rebounding also improved massively in year three.
PF: Draymond Green - 6'7, 230 - 4th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
TRB%
AST%
79
13.3
16.4
17.2%
54.0%
33.7%
.430
66.0%
.261
14.0%
16.1%

Green received widespread acclaim as the engine driving the world champions, thanks to his hustle-and-grind style of play.  He's always in the right spot on the floor at the right time at both ends, and he makes the little plays that great teams need to be great.  That paid off this summer in the form of a five year, $85M deal.  The Warriors couldn't afford to let him walk, but it will be interesting to see if he plays up to the new deal on the offensive end.  Last season was his only year above a 50.0 TS%, thanks to a big jump in 2P%.  Beyond that, I'm not sold on his outside shot: Playoffs and regular season combined, Green is only a 31% three point shooter.  I could regret adding that point in if he has another reliable season from beyond the arc, though.  Regardless of what happens with his offensive game, there's no questioning his value on the defensive end.
C: Andrew Bogut - 7'0, 245 - 11th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
FT%
FTr
TRB%
ORB%
DRB%
BLK/36
67
6.3
15.8
13.2%
56.5%
52.4%
.118
18.5%
9.9%
26.5%
2.6

Bogut gets about half of the minutes at C for Golden State when he's healthy.  In those minutes, he provides excellent value through his rim protection, defensive rebounding and overall defensive prowess.  Any offensive value is just gravy.

Bench
PG: Shaun Livingston - 6'7. 185 - 11th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
78
5.9
12.9
15.9%
52.9%
0%
.005
71.4%
.230
24.2%
19.0%

Livingston seems like an anti-Warrior because he has no outside shot to speak of, but his value at the defensive end of the floor and his versatility made him an important piece of the rotation.  His total value is undersold in the numbers alone.
G: Leandro Barbosa - 6'3, 180 - 13th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
66
7.1
15.3
20.5%
55.8%
38.4%
.290
78.4%
.192
14.9%
9.5%

Barbosa is the scoring punch in the backcourt for the Warriors' bench unit.  He filled that role efficiently in 2014-15, but it's not unfair to wonder if he can do it again in 2015-16.  Barbosa turns 33 this season, and last year's TS% was his best since the 2008-09 campaign.  Playing with so many other talented options helps, but I'd bet that Barbosa's efficiency takes a dip this year, probably a sizeable one.
G/F: Andre Iguodala - 6'7, 210 - 12th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
77
7.8
12.3
13.3%
55.3%
34.9%
.427
59.6%
.230
14.6%
13.9%

The 2015 NBA Finals MVP probably won't even start this year, as he only started in 3 of the 98 games he appeared in across 2014-15.  Those three were prompted by his ability to slow down LeBron James, which was the basis for him winning Finals MVP.  Starter or reserve, Iguodala is an extremely important piece of the puzzle for Golden State. 

SF: Gerald Wallace - 6'7, 230 - 15th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
TRB%
AST%
32
1.1
6.2
9.0%
43.1%
33.3%
.088
40.0%
.441
10.9%
5.1%

Probably didn't even need to include him here.  He'll get garbage minutes.
F: Kevon Looney - 6'10, 220 - Rookie
GP
PPG
APG
BPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
36
11.6
1.4
0.9
47.0%
41.5%
62.6%

Looney's upside was way too good for the Warriors to pass up at the back end of the 1st round.  He'll spend time trying to rehab an apparently serious hip injury.  The rest of his time will likely be spent in mop-up minutes at the NBA level or in the D-League.

F: James Michael McAdoo - 6'10, 230 - 2nd NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
FT%
FTr
TRB%
ORB%
DRB%
BLK/36
15
4.1
17.7
19.4%
56.4%
56.0%
.568
14.6%
12.2%
16.8%
2.4

McAdoo is still a project, but Golden State has the luxury of developing him at the end of the bench and in Santa Clara.  It's hard to see a path to serious minutes for him that doesn't include multiple injuries to frontcourt contributors.
PF: Marreese Speights - 6'10, 245 - 8th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
FT%
FTr
TRB%
ORB%
DRB%
BLK/36
76
10.4
19.5
29.1%
54.6%
84.3%
.276
14.5%
10.1%
18.7%
1.0

Speights had an excellent season in a reserve role for the Warriors last season.  He scored efficiently despite hoisting a decent amount of mid-range jumpers.  He may see fewer minutes if Steve Kerr chooses to use Jason Thompson some at PF, but Speights is going to factor in one way or another.

F/C: Jason Thompson - 6'11, 250 - 8th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
TRB%
ORB%
DRB%
FT%
FTr
BLK/36
81
6.1
10.2
12.7%
50.0%
15.1%
8.2%
21.5%
62.2%
.334
1.0

Thompson is going to have to earn any minutes he gets away from Speights and Ezeli.  I think getting out of Sacramento will be good for him, but it's hard to project just what his impact will be without knowing the kind of role he'll earn.
C: Festus Ezeli - 6'11, 255 - 3rd NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
FT%
FTr
TRB%
ORB%
DRB%
BLK/36
46
4.4
16.2
17.7%
58.0%
62.8%
.561
16.6%
13.3%
19.7%
3.0

When healthy, Ezeli played important reserve minutes behind Bogut and Speights.  I don't know if he'll ever be a starting-caliber player, but he's got value off the bench. 

Outlook

Unless there's a crazy string of injuries, even with the LaMarcus Aldridge addition in San Antonio, the Western Conference will run through Golden State again.  Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are just too good offensively, and Draymond Green and the rest of the group is too strong defensively to give any ground to the competition out west.  Odds are that the Warriors won't quite repeat the dominance of last year's regular season performance, but I think they're going to stand well above the rest of the league in the wins column.  I'll predict 64 wins for the Warriors, and they'll be the favorite to survive the Western Conference and earn a chance to defend their NBA crown.

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