Team Name: Golden State Warriors
Last Year's Record: 67-15
David Lee (via trade with Boston Celtics)
Kevon Looney (30th pick, 2015 NBA Draft)
Jason Thompson (via trade for Gerald Wallace)
Larry O'Brien Trophy (via playoff dominance)
1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?
There were two major priorities for the Warriors entering the offseason: re-sign Draymond Green and find a new home for former All-Star David Lee. That they did both was solid. That they managed to trade Lee without giving up any other assets was impressive. That they managed to get a serviceable player in return for Lee in the form of Jason Thompson made this another, albeit quieter, outstanding mark on Bob Myers' record as Warriors general manager.
What could make or break how we look at this offseason down the line is whether first round pick Kevon Looney pans out — only 19, the UCLA product has significant growth potential but is recovering from hip surgery that will delay his debut, whether that be with Golden State or Santa Cruz in the D-League. But even wanting him to fulfill our wildest upside fantasies is getting greedy — what's important is that Myers & Co. have managed to add to a championship rotation without sacrificing much while gaining some salary cap flexibility.
Click here for more thoughts on the Warriors' offseason from our staff.
2. What are the team's biggest strengths?
I don't think there's any question about what the Warriors' number one strength is: 2015 NBA MVP Stephen Curry is the foundation of everything that made the Warriors' offensive philosophy and small ball strategy work so well last year. Other teams will inevitably try to imitate what the Warriors did last year, but without Curry, a running mate like Klay Thompson and a versatile all-around player in Draymond Green using this team as a model for anything on the court is a fool's errand.
The Warriors arguably have the best backcourts in NBA history, a rare pair of All-Star starters who led their team to a title. Draymond Green is already making a case as the best bargain of any second round pick in the era we've had the data available. Yet with Green, the
2015 Defensive Player of the Year runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year, All-Defensive Third Team selection Andrew Bogut, and 2015 NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala anchoring the defense along with a set of long wings in Harrison Barnes, Shaun Livingston, and Klay Thompson the Warriors were the top-rated defense last year as well. And again, few teams in the league could ever hope to approximate their switching defense while playing small ball with a short rotation of 6-foot-6 to 6-foot-8 players.
Although we have to put last season's magical experience behind us, the fact that the Warriors are bringing their entire core rotation means they'll have continuity on their side as they look to repeat as champions — with no reason for imagining a drop-off and plenty reason to think there's room for growth, the continual development of chemistry could end up being their biggest strength over the course of a long NBA season.
Click here for more thoughts on the Warriors' strengths from our community.
3. What are the team's biggest weaknesses?
With the Warriors' chemistry, complementarity, continuity, talent, and versatility, there aren't really many obvious holes for this team — as they continue to develop familiarity with each other, their system, and still-new coach Steve Kerr, we can expect to see more fourth quarters with the starters resting on the bench during the regular season.
Nevertheless, if there is a weakness, it's that the Warriors don't have a consistent third scorer if they can rely on if the Splash Brothers are off. A small group of rotation players took turns stepping up at various points during the playoff run — Barnes, Green, Livingston, and of course Iguodala — but it's never obvious who that third scorer will be game to game. A number fans seem to imagine Barnes being that guy — and are willing to pay him a hefty sum for assuming the third wheel role — but he's a low usage scorer who relies heavily on others to generate offense. In a worst case scenario, the Warriors' versatility could be their undoing if the Splash Brothers are off and there's no obvious third go-to player.
But worrying too much about the Warriors' roster is a silly thing to do; the biggest weakness might really be playing in an extremely competitive Western Conference, as 45% of GSoM readers voted in a recent poll.
Click here for more thoughts on the Warriors' weaknesses from our community.
4. What are the goals for this team?
The easy answer is to repeat as champions, something that even the mighty Spurs haven't done during their run of success in the Tim Duncan-Gregg Popovich era — even making the Finals twice in a row is an accomplishment. But underlying that obvious goal are two possibly inter-related goals that are worth watching day-to-day: how well they're able to manage minutes to remain healthy and expanding their grasp on the new offense.
Player-by-player grades for the 2014-15 season
Throughout the shorter-than-usual offseason, the Golden State of Mind community graded the performance of each Warriors player. The only real question is whether the Warriors can keep it up in 2015-16
Kerr & Co. did an outstanding job of managing minutes and sitting players when necessary to keep the team largely healthy during their playoff run. That will be equally important, if not more, this season as both Bogut and Iguodala aren't getting younger and just played the longest season of their NBA careers. Also, as irrational as this is, I'm not going to sit here and lie to you about my fear of Curry's ankle: that trauma continues to linger in my consciousness.
With health, comes even greater chemistry and with greater chemistry, we'll see the team better able to find the optimal way to maximize their individual talents to make an even stronger whole. And as improbable as it sounds, when you look at the film, there's plenty of room to improve their execution on the offensive end of the floor, which could easily translate into even more wins.
Click here for more thoughts on the Warriors' weaknesses from our community.
5. With repeating in mind, how do the Warriors stacking up against the revamped Western conference?
There are a number of teams who could conceivably win the Western Conference this season — the Houston Rockets, L.A. Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs should all be considered reasonable contenders for the crown that the Warriors are about to defend. However, the Spurs are just a team that you can never count out, they beat the Warriors 2-1 during the regular season series last year, and they've added LaMarcus Aldridge to their aging core — nearly 65% of the GSoM community voted the Spurs as the biggest threat in a recent poll.
The Warriors have an advantage in depth, which could matter as teams are trying to muster up the energy to compete during a deep playoff run if nothing else. But the Spurs top five to six players could be elite as long as the older generation is able to continue holding off the effects of age.
Click here for more thoughts on the challenge that the Spurs and other top contenders pose the Warriors this year.
6. Which player "on the bubble" for making the Warriors' roster is most *intriguing* to you, regardless of whether he actually has a shot at making the team?
Given the Warriors' quest for an additional shooter in the face of increasing threats around the Western Conference, the training camp battle for the last spot on the roster could be intriguing as the Warriors have brought in a number of shooters to compete.
Former Las Vegas Summer League MVP Ian Clark has earned positive feedback early on, but West Virginia product Juwan Staten is also worth watching in addition to Jarrell Eddie and veteran scorer Ben Gordon. Should more than one of these training camp contract players shine, Brandon Rush could end up being a guy at risk of losing his spot if the Warriors are willing to buy him out of his relatively inexpensive contract.
Click here for more thoughts on the players on the bubble for a Warriors roster spot.
For even more about the upcoming Warriors season, check out our 2015-16 Warriors preview section.