One of the main reasons that the Warriors were able to press that far in the West was the emergence of a healthy Stephen Curry. Curry put up 22.9 points, 6.9 assists, and 4.0 rebounds per contest and showed a defensive side of his game as well with 1.6 steals. Curry was snubbed off the Western Conference All-Star team and seemed to use that as extra motivation to lead his team down the stretch of the regular season and into the postseason.
How can the Warriors repeat their success and go even farther than they did last year? There are three big factors to consider heading into 2013 to keep an eye on. They've made quite a few off-season moves, and are primed to move up in the Western Conference. Let's take a look at the three biggest factors for their 2013 success.
1. How does Andre Iguodala fit in with the team?
The biggest addition that the Warriors made this off-season was bringing in Andre Iguodala during free agency. Iguodala was a very big piece of the Denver Nuggets team that Golden State bounced out of the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
Iguodala is known for his defense and that is one area that the Warriors needed to improve. They now have a player who can lock down the opposing teams best players at both the shooting guard and small forward positions. He's never been known for his scoring, but he scored at a respectable clip last year, averaging 13.0 points per game.
One other factor to consider regarding Iguodala is the veteran presence and experience that he'll bring to a very young team. Harrison Barnes is one player that will benefit greatly from having a guy like Iguodala mentoring him. Expect Iguodala to be a very vocal leader both on and off the court.
2. Does Stephen Curry take the next step?
Coming off an All-Star caliber season, Stephen Curry has the sights of opposing teams head coaches on him. The league is going to put together defenive gameplans every single night built around stopping him. Obviously coaches were doing that this season as well, but as players continue to get better and play longer, teams come up with new ways to attempt to hamper them.
Curry is a threat both scoring and passing and that will most certainly help his cause. He does need to take care of the ball a little bit better and cut down on hi 3.1 turnover per game average from last season, but that numbers isn't too terribly high.
Overall I think we all know that we're going to see a high-scoring Stephen Curry who takes his game to the next level as an all-around player. I expect him to be a better defender as well and to become even more of a vocal leader as the point guard.
3. How does the front-court produce?
The Warriors had very good front-court production over the course of last season with David Lee being a consistent double-double threat and the depth they have at both the power forward and center positions. They did lose Carl Landry this off-season via free agency and he will be missed, but they will have a healthy Andrew Bogut and the new big man Marreesse Speights as well.
I'm very intrigued to see what Andrew Bogut can do if he's able to play a mostly healthy season. When the Warriors originally acquired him I thought that he would be one of the big pieces in whether or not they would compete to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals. During the 2013 Playoffs he averaged just 7.2 points per game, but came up huge in the rebounding category with 10.9 per outing. He'll need to own the paint on defense and rebounding for the Warriors in the 2013-14 season.
David Lee will be coming off of the torn hip flexor that he suffered in the Playoffs, but he's expected to make a fully recovery and have no issues with it. Lee is coming off a year where he was named to the All-Star game, and put up 18.5 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. Those numbers are some of the best in the league and Lee was the Warriors' fist All-Star since 1997 when Latrell Sprewell was selected.
Overall the team has the ability to not only compete in the Western Conference, but take the next step and represent the Western Conference. There are obviouly more factors that will contribute to their 2013 success, but these are the biggest three to me. Golden State Warriors fans should be ecstatic about their young team, and expect yet another great season of basketball.
Thank you for reading and comments are very much appreciated! You can find me on Twitter (@massey_evan).