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Warriors vs Lakers 2015 preseason preview: Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut, Klay Thompson out

Death, taxes, and injuries.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Lakers logo
Golden State Warriors
2-2 (0-1 ROAD)
L.A. Lakers
1-4 (0-5 HOME)
October 17, 2015
Valley View Casino Center — San Diego, CA
7 p.m. PST
Blog Buddy: Silver Screen and Roll
Projected Starters
Stephen Curry G Jordan Clarkson
Brandon Rush
F Anthony Brown
Draymond Green F Julius Randle
Festus Ezeli
C Roy Hibbert
Key Injuries
Harrison Barnes - bone bruise
Andrew Bogut - broken nose
Klay Thompson - not with team/funeral
Jarell Eddie - sprained right ankle
Kobe Bryant - bruised left leg

The Golden State Warriors (2-2) face the Los Angeles Lakers (1-4) tonight on hallowed hardwood, the world famous Valley View Casino Center in San Diego.

Well, not quite hallowed, but it was the original arena the San Diego Rockets played in (and the San Diego Clippers, for one hot minute). This will be the Warriors' third game in five nights, while the Lakers are coming off a three day break after a losing effort against the Kings in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Themes emerging from preseason:

  • The Warriors' main issue seems to be staying invested in on-court proceedings. This isn't surprising, or concerning. Call it a microcosm of LeBron James' eternal struggle with the regular season. When your final goal is to be playing in June, who the hell cares what happens in mid-October?
  • Dings and scratches. Tally up two consecutive games where we've seen a starter leave the game. Neither of them (Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut, in order of injury date) are looking at significantly missed time in terms of real games--although their statuses are both out for this game (more on that in another section). Even the coaching staff has been bitten by the injury bug (although Coach Kerr is reportedly nearing a return).

What to Watch For: Warriors

  1. Injuries, injuries, injuries. The only negative that could possibly occur in an NBA preseason game is an injury. Once again, if the Warriors make it out unscathed, they've won. Don't let the box score fool you.
  2. Offensive fluidity. The coaching staff and players have repeatedly alluded to a more flowing offensive architecture that responds organically to the defense, in lieu of set plays. In other terms, an offense built around reactively attacks soft spots in defenses, instead of proactively calling plays in an attempt to morph or bend the defense to create looks.
    It's an intriguing concept; one that starts with the offensive fulcrum (tonight, probably Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston; in general, those + Bogut) marshaling the offense to react to the defense. Look at for how the Warriors are responding to defenses, and more importantly what kind of looks those possessions generate.
  3. Bubble players. Although this loses intrigue by the day. With Juwan Staten and Ben Gordon cut (Staten presumably to be signed by the Santa Cruz Warriors) and Jarell Eddie out tonight, the current players on the roster bubble eligible for action are Ian Clark and Brandon "MIchael Jordan, if he was better at basketball" Rush. This year's roster bubble is starting to look like the Democratic primaries: a two horse race.

What to Watch For: Lakers

The Baby Lakers. Seriously, the Lakers are "young, spry, up-and-comers" looking to gain experience while the Warriors are the wily, veteran, experienced team under constant inferiority-complex driven criticism. The Lakers aren't a complete collection of youngsters, but the youngin's they have are by far the most interesting aspect of their team. D'Angelo Russell, the winner of the 2015 Jerry West Award for the top 2 in collegiate ball, has been compared to everyone from James Harden to Curry to Brandon Roy. He's 6'5, he's a great shooter, he led the nation in freshmen scoring. And he's literally two days younger than me.

Julius Randle, in what is tantamount to his rookie season, is already bullying people in the paint. I'm not sure on anything outside of his inside scoring game. Judging by his TRB% at Kentucky, he projects to be merely adequate as a rebounder in the NBA. His efficiency was good, considering his usage. The interesting facet to Randle's game is that unlike known plodders such as Zach Randolph, he does have decent acceleration and has flashed the ability to push the ball in transition himself.

Jordan Clarkson had Laker Nation excited last year as he showed some promise. The 23 year old was only in the ~10th percentile by RAPM last year (45th lowest). He was inefficient (.528 TS%). Yet he showed promise as a shooter (.829 FT%) and distributor 23.8 AST%. VORP rated him at 0.6, well above replacement level of -2.0. Some of the excitement behind Clarkson may have died down after the shinier new toy (Russell) came to town, but Clarkson may yet prove to be the next understated stalwart PG for the Lakers.

What Not to Watch For

And no Kobe Bryant (that's actually the motto written in crayon on the GSoM treehouse door). Kobe's taking the night off after a lower leg contusion took him out of the action against the Kings a few nights ago. Get well soon to all (and condolences to Klay).


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