As a long-suffering Warriors fan, I don’t do predictions. If you are relatively new to the team or you only go back as far as the "We Believe" years, you probably won’t understand, but here are two lessons I have learned: 1) The glasses are always rose-colored in October; and 2) the season begins way too close to Halloween. Given all of the moving pieces – injuries, cap issues, teams moving in and out of contention, makes it hard for me to look at the Warriors and give a number of wins with any confidence.
Here’s what I’d like to see from every player on the roster, ranking them in the order of importance:
- Andrew Bogut. It’s arguable whether it’s Steph or Bogut at the top of the list here but since we’ve had Curry and really haven’t had the Big Aussie, I’m ranking him first. It was fun watching the game in Sacramento the other night to see him and the aggressive DeMarcus Cousins go at each other. They pretty much had their own little scrum in the paint while everyone else played basketball. At one point the refs called a double-foul and the two of them cracked up. It was just another reminder of the difference-maker that Bogut is. A touch of nasty with the floor command that a true franchise-type big man brings to the table. If he delivers 65+ games and double-digit rebounds, and over 2 blocks and assists per game, they are an upper-echelon team.
- Steph Curry. There is a general idea out there that Steph fundamentally changed as a player during the 54-point outburst at MSG on February 27 last year. Suddenly a good player and great shooter became a force to be reckoned with. He kept it up through the playoffs until his body was unable to take anymore. So if that’s case, what’s next? A summer of not having to rehab a balky ankle gave us a good idea. The Curry I’ve seen in pre-season looks bigger and stronger and every bit as capable of taking over a game as the post-MSG Curry looked. To me the defining aspect of a great player starts with being able to create his own shot and Steph has started to do that. A stronger frame will allow him to enter the paint with impunity and finish or go to the free throw line, where he is money. We are also seeing some emotion and fire and that bodes well for the future (and is also a part of the free throw equation). Add in the renewed energy on the defensive side and you have a complete player and a true team leader for a team capable of making an extended playoff run.
- Andre Iguodala. Earlier in his career there were rumors of a trade with the 76ers that would have swapped Ellis for Iguodala, something I would have done in a heartbeat. Truth be told that while I enjoyed any number of moments by The Mississippi Missile, I was never that big a fan. Watching A.I. at long last in a Dub’s uniform, I can see why he was so willing to come to the blue and gold. His athleticism, court awareness and defense are a joy to watch and the way he meshes with this team is obvious. One of the questions in the transition from last year was about the chemistry and if it would be the same and I imagine that it might be even better. This team is capable of so much if people just do their jobs and he allows that to happen at any number of positions. Plus, as a fantasy guy he’s someone I want as he’s going to fill out a stat sheet.