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The Golden State Warriors: A 'defensive juggernaut' that still has enormous upside

Through the first five games, the Warriors - yes, the Golden State Warriors - have proven to be a formidable opponent on both ends of the court. And they have potential to get even better.

At some point, the Warriors will have to figure out how to keep Klay Thompson. For now, he's been outstanding.
At some point, the Warriors will have to figure out how to keep Klay Thompson. For now, he's been outstanding.
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

In my Q&As with both Clips Nation and Sactown Royalty last week, I've been asked questions about how the Golden State Warriors can keep their currently 4-1 unit together over the long-term.

Steve Perrin of CN asked how Andrew Bogut's contract might affect the team's ability to keep Klay Thompson around; Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty asked how the Warriors might choose between Thompson and Harrison Barnes financially down the road.

Ziller elaborated on the challenge of keeping both Barnes and Thompson this morning in his daily column for SB Nation, concluding that it will be difficult for the Warriors to keep their top six together. And it's true - it will be. These financial concerns are certainly valid and, indeed, from a management perspective, everything those two players do this year will somehow figure into a future projection for the purposes of answering the questions above.

Yet after watching these first five games as a long-suffering Warriors fan, I'm having a really hard time worrying about the future too much.

We've been waiting for a team this good for decades - we're to the point where we can now include fans who have been watching since the mid- to late-70's - and I'm not sure I want to waste this experience thinking too much about the team's future financial situation.

As ESPN's Ethan Sherwood-Strauss wrote earlier this morning, one of the amazing things about the Warriors' start is that they've managed to put together one of the league's most exciting offenses without making, "...a devil’s bargain where such an offense can’t come with a strong defensive foundation." As hard as it is to believe if you had just accepted that this franchise was just allergic to defense, this roster is already built to defend and has enormous defensive potential.

Put aside your concerns about sample size for a moment: there have been stretches during this first five games that leave you simply marveling at the upside this team might have once they fully gel.

It looks like someone is going to be in position to drop 30 every night. Despite looking like he was born to play with this unit, Andre Iguodala will likely only get more comfortable playing with this unit offensively. And HBarnes just made his debut off the bench in last night's game, which seriously diminished some of the concerns about the bench's inability to score - Barnes hit the floor looking like he's ready to make up for time lost due to injury. And we have yet to see a number of lineup combinations that Jackson will have at his disposal with Barnes ready to go.

This is fun. It's going to be more fun. And it's not because this team is like the old Warriors for which fun came with a hefty defensive cost - they're an outstanding team on both ends and we've suffered way too long to take that for granted.

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