How the Warriors fit into the Western Conference

Summer league is moving into the last stretch and training camp is right around the corner. The Warriors are for the most part done with their off season moves. Going into this off season Myers said he would probably stand pat and wait to make a major move in next free agency. Yet Andre Iguodala wanted to come play here and in doing so opened the door to replace the five departing veterans with Mo Speights, Jermaine O'Neal, Toney Douglas, and Nedamanja Nedovic. The bench will be rounded out with Draymond Green, Kent Bazemore, and Festus Ezeli when he returns from injury. There are also a few roster spots that could potentially go to Kevin Murphy and Scott Machado who are both on non guaranteed contracts. For quick reference, another fan posted a great google spreadsheet here.

Bob Myers continues to balance out the roster well and add good value. The Warriors improved their defense on their wing, their ball movement, and even added a little potential as well. The Western Conference has gotten a lot stronger right there with the Warriors, so it is good to look around the Western Conference and see how this squad matches up.

Last season the Denver Nuggets went on a 15 game winning streak that was out shined by the Miami Heat's 27 win streak. Both of these led to impressive regular season records and were largely achieved by the versatile line-ups they were able to produce. The Warriors this coming season now have similar versatility and have been said to be

"Miami's smallball answer in the Western Conference, albeit without trivial "best player on the planet" component."

- Aaronstampler of Pounding the Rock

Although Iguodala is not on Lebron's level, he's a huge upgrade at the small forward position. Harrison Barnes showed a lot of promise, but he did not quite produce on the level the Warriors need to make this team a contender. The Warriors are now strong at every position and this gives Barnes the freedom to really shine coming off the bench. My preference is that the starting line-up changes depending on the competition, but the reality is that Barnes will most likely come off the bench as a super sixth man.

Western Conference Team Breakdowns:

Memphis Grizzlies brought back Tony Allen and traded for Ed Davis last season and more recently gained Kosta Koufos in a draft night trade that sent away Darrell Arthur. Their size and tough defense will continue to give the Warriors trouble, but now the Warriors can answer back with Mo Speights! I’m kidding, the Warriors will win a few, but expect the Grizzlies to be one of the most dominant teams in the West next season.

Expected record against: .325

Oklahoma City Thunder lost their 6th man in Kevin Martin and are expecting Jeremy Lamb to step up and make the jump to compliment their young roster. There is a lot of potential on their roster, but the reality is that they didn't make a play that will position themselves to be Western Conference favorites. Still, any team with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will win a lot of games.

Expected record against: .375

SA Spurs stood pat this offseason, which means that they have regressed in some respects and gotten better as their young players in Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green may improve. In years past, the expectation would have been that the Warriors would maybe win 1 out of 4, but this year I think the Warriors put themselves in a good position to give them more trouble as two perimeter players can now be locked down. Yet history is against the Warriors playing in the Spurs arena and it is tough to see the Warriors doing much more than tying them during the regular season.

Expected record against: .500

LA Clippers notable additions are JJ Redick, Jared Dudley, and Darren Collison. They have also brought back Matt Barnes, Ryan Hollins, and Chris Paul. Their bench remains deep and their team remains one of the most dangerous in the Western Conference. For some reason David Lee dominates Blake Griffin, but Chris Paul is too dangerous to expect anything but splitting the series.

Expected record against: .500

Houston Rockets won the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. Dwight is a polarizing player on GSOM and other sites as well. He took a step back in production last year and over the course of two years I think the majority of fans are tired of hearing his name in trade rumors and the rest of the drama. Injuries may still plague his game, there will always be chemistry concerns because of his antics, he still shoots free throws poorly and he has yet to prove that he will buy into a system. Last year against a Dwightless Rockets team, the Warriors ran into trouble. This year the Warriors shored up their pores perimeter defense by adding Iguodala and Douglas, so a barage of threes is not as much of a concern. They also have three defensive bigs in Bogut, O'Neal, and Ezeli to sub in to guard Dwight in the middle.

Expected record against: .500

Minnesota Timberwolves most notable additions are Corey Brewer and Kevin Martin. Whether they come off the bench or start, they'll be good pieces for a team needing a boost to get them to the next level. Kevin Love expects to win and with Ricky Rubio healthy and if they bring back Nikola Pekovic it is hard to expect anything else. They do not have a top five team, but they will compete. Their record improve the most over last years (at least in the Western Conference), but I expect them to struggle against the Warriors outside shooting as much as the Warriors struggle to contain Kevin Love.

Expected record against: .500

Denver Nuggets took a step back and added a lot of redundancy. I like Darrell Arthur, and JJ Hickson will be good offense off the bench, but what do they need both? This team lost Iguodala, the Coach of the Year, and the GM of the year. Ownership could be right that the future of this franchise rests on the shoulders of Javale McGee, but I won't be sold until I see results. Brian Shaw is a great coach and they still have plenty of athleticism on this roster so I'd be surprised if they don't end up making the playoffs. Kenneth Faried was Warrior kryptonite last season and they did not add any athletic bigs to the roster, but the slimming down of Draymond Green and the bulking up of Harrison Barnes should be enough.

Expected record against: .575

Dallas Mavericks played their hand in free agency, which was not plan A, B, C, or D. Mark Cuban got blinded by stars and stubbornly held up hope that an all-star caliber player would choose to come play for the Mavericks. After an injury to Devin Harris' toe, the Mavericks found themselves enjoying a healthy serving of Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis. Their wing defense will be incredibly bad. Their inside defense is now locked down by Samuel Dalembert, which is not the worst option in the world, but next to Dirk Nowitzke I just don't see them as much of a threat to most of the NBA. The problem in relationship to the Warriors is that Monta Ellis has a huge chip on his shoulder when he plays the Warriors, and Dirk can still compete when healthy.

Expected record against: .625

Portland Trail Blazers added Robin Lopez and Dorell Wright as well as drafted CJ McCollum who has been killing it in Summer League. Even if CJ struggles in the NBA, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, and Damien Lillard are enough to give the Warriors a number of a tough games. This team is built well and unless Aldridge is traded, I expect them to make the push into the playoffs this year. Damien Lillard loves playing at Oracle, so they will steal at least a couple games from the warriors over the course of six games.

Expected record against: .666

Utah Jazz decided this is as good of a year as any to invest in next year. They realized how effective the Warriors veteran tank commanders were after they missed out in their draft pick and added them to the fold. With next years draft reportedly full of team changers, it makes sense. This team still has some level of talent and size, which is still a concern for the Warriors going into the season with a minute limited Bogut, and without the defensive energy of Ezeli. The Jazz might sneak one win out of the four games we play them.

Expected record against: .750

Sacramento Kings added a lot of redundancy with the addition of Carl Landry to an already clogged rotation at the forward position. They let go of Tyreke Evans, but they added a stalwart defender in Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and the potentially explosive Ben McLemore. I also like the addition of Greivis Vasquez. The more I think about this team, they are a few trades away from being competitive. Historically the Kings / Warrior games have been more competitive, but this was back when both teams were at the bottom of their conference. Even with all of the history and the improvements to the King's roster, they have not improved as much as the Warriors this off season.

Expected record against: .833

Los Angeles Lakers have now become the scrappy underdog and the amount to which they buy into this philosophy will determine how competitive they are next year. A healthy year from Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant, and Steve Nash will mean a lot. They lost two cogs to the wheel in an unhappy Dwight Howard and the head case that is Metta World Peace. The Warriors now have a lock down defender to throw at Kobe Bryant and enough fire power to win most of their games against them.

Expected record against: .833

Phoenix Sun's most notable additions have been Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler. They drafted Alex Len, who's ceiling is Brook Lopez. This will not help their defense, but at this point the Suns are simply gaining assets. Warrior fans regret taking Ekpe Udoh over Greg Monroe, so perhaps the Suns made the right call in passing on Nerlens Noel, but we won't know the answer to that until the season comes along. They still have Marcin Gortat's expiring contract and a nice player in Goran Dragic. There is a log jam at the four spot with the Morris Brothers, Scola, and Channing Frye coming back. The unbalanced roster combined with a rookie coach spells the Suns still in rebuild mode. If they can flip some of their assets for more draft picks or more complimentary pieces I think they will be in great shape.

Expected record against: 1.000

New Orleans Pelicans are in the process of trying to sign Greg Oden, so their roster has the potential to be a little bit better. Their starting three guards have the potential to be pretty good with Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, and Tyreke Evans. Their team would work better with Tyreke playing a sixth man role and Al Fariq Amino starting, but no matter which was we slice it, they will be the weakest team in the Western Conference. The lack a bench and against a team with as much defense as the Warriors, it is hard to see them win even one game.

Expected record against: 1.000

My conclusion is that the Warriors improved substantially this off season, and it will reflect in their ability to compete night in and night out against every team. I tried my best to be objective, but unfortunately I got blue and gold lasik surgery a while back, so take the expected records with a grain of sand. Anyway, thanks for reading my first Fanpost!

This FanPost is a submission from a member of the mighty Golden State of Mind community. While we're all here to throw up that W, these words do not necessarily reflect the views of the GSoM Crew. Still, chances are the preceding post is Unstoppable Baby!

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