Sports Radio Interviews posted Jerry West's interview with Tom Tolbert and Eric Byrnes of KNBR in which he describes why Golden State Warriors fans should be optimistic about the coming NBA season.
...we were the worst rebounding team in the league by far, we did not have a team that had basketball intelligence, we had smart guys but not basketball intelligence and we were so small...We have changed and we have some really tough guys here. Last year I thought we were a very soft team and that’s not going to happen this year. We’re going to go from being one of the worst rebounding teams to I think one of the better ones almost overnight. For the fans up here who are so impassioned I’m optimistic. I would never promise anything because I don’t think you can do that. Our coaches need to mold these players. Sometimes you have wonderful chemistry and sometimes you don’t. We have some really classy kids on this team who are not only good basketball players but they’re tough minded. They want to do something special with their career, particularly the younger ones and the growing ones...I look up front and say ‘oh my gosh we went from a midget team to we’re big and strong.’
Obviously, the Warriors can't exactly get any worse at rebounding than they were last season: they ranked 29th in offensive rebounding and 30th in defensive rebounding last season. And a lot of the Warriors' expected improvement on the boards will depend on the health of center Andrew Bogut, as West alludes to in this interview and CSN Bay Area's Matt Steinmetz also suggested yesterday.
But as West also describes, this is just a generally bigger team. Rookie center Festus Ezeli has proven that he can contribute to the Warriors' rebounding efforts and keeping opponents off the boards. Even if Carl Landry has been critiqued for his rebounding rates, he fills out a frontcourt rotation along with Bogut and forward David Lee that is the best the Warriors have had in years; with a stronger frontcourt, it probably means we'll see less lineups with natural small forwards trying to fill in at the four.
Yet beyond whatever statistical gains the Warriors make, the potential to improve on the boards also reflects a new mentality that simply wasn't there a year ago; the reason for optimism is not so much ignoring the health concerns as it is appreciating the upside of this team and organization now compared to just a year ago. Regardless of how that manifests itself on the court, it's hard not to feel like things are headed in the right direction.