Mark Jackson left the announce table last off-season to take over as head coach for the Golden State Warriors. Despite Jackson's lack of coaching experience and Stephen Curry mising significant time with ankle issues, things actually started okay in Golden State.
The team sat just three games below .500 at 18-21 after a win at Sacramento on March 13. That's when the tank job began.
Clearly looking towards 2012-13, the Warriors traded away Monta Ellis to the Milwaukee Bucks for an injured Andrew Bogut in a five-player deal.
The team basically mailed in the rest of the year winning just five of their final 27 games to finish 20 games below .500 and well out of the playoff picture.
Bigger Is Better - The team desperately wanted a big man last year so they took a risk in acquiring Andrew Bogut from the Bucks in a five-player deal that also sent Monta Ellis packing. When healthy, Bogut is capable of playing at an all-star level. He plays good defence and is an excellent rebounder. He will chip in around 12 points per game, but where his true offensive value lies is as a passer. Bogut is among the best big man passers in the game and should form a nice tandem with power forward David Lee who averaged over 20 points last year. The idea of running the offence through them in the half court should have Golden State's shooters salivating at the potential open looks.
His Team Now
With the departure of Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry is the main man in Golden State. If he can stay healthy and return to All-Star form, the Warriors have a shot at the playoffs.
Going Deep - One of the biggest shortcomings for the Warriors in recent years has been a lack of depth. That isn't the case this season. The Warriors traded for point guard Jarrett Jack to back up Stephen Curry. Klay Thompson and Brandon Rush can both give the Warriors quality minutes from the 2 spot. Draft pick Harrison Barnes will battle veteran Richard Jefferson for starter's minutes at small forward. The team also picked up Carl Landry late in the off-season which gives them a productive reserve big man. Even Andris Biedrins might be capable of being solid a backup centre despite the nosedive in his production the last few years. This is a solid 10-man rotation.
Scoring in Bunches - The Warriors shouldn't have any troubles filling the basket. They are loaded offensively. Curry is an elite playmaker and Jarrett Jack is also an effective distributor. Curry and Thompson are outstanding shooters from deep while David Lee is a gifted scorer with a solid mid-range jumper. Richard Jefferson can still score and Bogut gives the team a legitimate scoring threat inside as well. Expect Golden State to be among the highest scoring teams in the NBA again this year.
Injury Issues- The Warriors success this year will hinge on the health of their two biggest stars, Curry and Bogut. Curry can be an elite point guard in the NBA but he is fresh off a seven month absence due to ankle surgery. He has already suffered a sprain on that surgically repaired ankle and will be held out for the rest of the pre-season which has to concern the Warriors. Bogut meanwhile is still recovering from his own ankle injury that has kept him off the court since Jan. 25 and may not be ready for the team's Halloween opener. Bogut played in just 12 games in the lockout-shortened season last year and only twice in his other six years has he managed to play in 70 games. His upside is high for Golden State but it comes with significant risk.
Get ready for the season with the latest from TSN.ca.
If Bogut can stay healthy the Warriors might surprise.
A solid contributor of points and boards, David Lee is 16th overall
Defensive Shortcomings - Bogut can play solid defence at the five spot. Unfortunately the team's other four projected starters are all limited defensively. Curry can be pushed around due to his size. Klay Thompson occasionally resembles a pylon when defending the dribble. At small forward, Harrison Barnes has potential but may take time to adjust to the NBA while Richard Jefferson is not as quick as he used to be. David Lee is an average help defender but can be exposed one-on-one.
X Factor: Klay Thompson
As a rookie, Thompson really came into his own when Monta Ellis was traded. He started the final 28 games for the Warriors last year and averaged 18.6 points per. He might not have a great all-around game, but Thompson can flat out shoot (41.3% from deep last year). If he can continue to bomb from deep at that rate he will keep his starting spot locked up and help the Warriors stretch opposing defences opening things up for the rest of the team.
What to Expect
This is the best Golden State has been since 2007-08. This edition has the talent and depth to potentiall sneak into the playoffs as a low seed. Then again, the Warriors could just as easily find themselves on the outside looking in at ninth or 10th. Health will be the biggest factor in determining how well the Warriors do. Bogut gives the team the legitimate big man they so desperately needed and if they can get 70+ games out of him and Curry they have a legitimate shot at the post-season. That's a pretty big if though. This is likely a team that will hover around the .500 mark, finish third in the Pacific and just outside of the playoffs.
After tanking the end of last season, the Warriors are determined to turn things around and start winning.
To help them do so they drafted Harrison Barnes out of North Carolina who was a great value with the seventh pick. They also picked up Festus Ezeli with the 30th pick to help shore up their depth in the middle.
Picking up Jarrett Jack was also a smart move as he will be a solid back up point guard and can help fill the void should Stephen Curry's ankle problems persist. Carl Landry was also a solid depth addition for the Warriors' frontcourt.
This team could surprise if everyone stays healthy.