As described yesterday, each blog in the SB Nation - NBA network will be releasing season previews over the next few weeks and we’re just releasing the rough draft of ours, in pieces, to gather community opinions on the questions we’ve been asked to answer.
Today, we’re going to look at strengths and weaknesses. So read our thoughts below, drop your thoughts in the comments, rec the comments that you think are best and we’ll add some of the top comments from the community in our preview. And if you have something longer to add, feel free to create a FanPost that we can share as well.
Oh ... we’ll also begin with another standard question from SBN that was rather easy to answer. Hopefully, we all know what the most significant move of the off-season was, so just bear with us as we do what we were asked — maybe just see it as a way to wake up your brain on a Monday morning.
1. What significant moves were made during the off-season?
Sami Higgins: I’m not sure if you’re aware yet, but the Warriors signed Kevin Durant.
Derek Knight: Biggest post-Monta roster shakeup. Exodus of the old peripheral core (Bogut, Barnes) and fan-favorite role players (Speights, Barbosa), with the addition of a new superstar.
Basketball Jonez: Oh, you know … just another ho-hum off-season for Bob Myers. Myers scoured the bottom of the free agency barrel and came up with a skinny wing with a lot of potential named Kevin Durant. Apparently scouts are pretty high on this guy and we might have a real gem on our hands, which is good because we lost both of the guys who started at small forward AND our top three centers not named Draymond. West and Pachulia both have reputations as tough, savvy veterans and come with a history of helping their teams win, but the team lost a ton of depth and even more defense.
Dean Campbell: Obviously, #KDToTheBay was the biggest move in the NBA. It was well worth throwing the 2016 Finals to sign Durant and lock up multiple championships this decade. #LightYears, and no longer potential victims of the infamous Hack-a-Shaq strategy, the Warriors also strengthened their free-throw shooting in parting ways with Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli. And from the sound of things, the Warriors got a bargain in Patrick McCaw. Jerry West doesn’t throw praise around lightly and KD has already taken the young McCaw under his wing.
Nate P.: Just want to extend Dean’s point on McCaw — I had really low expectations for the draft and was immediately impressed by McCaw’s fit with the team based on his statistical profile and was even more impressed after I had a chance to watch a couple of his games during summer league.
Kevin Durant has unquestionably been the biggest get this off-season. But the fact that they had the systems in place to identify a talent like McCaw in the draft on a short timeline after the draft speaks volumes about how strong an organization they’ve built after the turmoil of the Chris Cohan days.
Jason K. Lee: Signing Kevin Durant is obviously the most significant move. But close behind is the acquisition of Zaza Pachulia and David West. Neither Pachulia nor West have the defensive prowess of Andrew Bogut or the range of Marreese Speights. But if they can be productive with their minutes it would go a long way towards making up for the loss of so many key players from last year’s squad.
2. What are the team's biggest strengths?
Derek: More top-end talent than any team in the history of any sport.
Sami: They have three of the top shooters in the game. They will be able to split defenses left and right and defenders won’t know what hit them. Splitting the defense will allow for shot opportunities people thought would be lost by adding KD to an already talented offensive roster.
Hugo: The versatility of their top four stars (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green) complement each other better than any of the super-teams we’ve seen in the past. The supporting cast of Andre Iguodala, Zaza Pachulia, Shaun Livingston, and David West is experienced, savvy, and defensively talented.
BBJ: The lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green.
I get chills thinking about it.
Dean: Just a little bit of 3-point shooting on this roster, the most important shot in the game. Team chemistry is likely to be strong again, as KD has personally bonded with Curry, Iguodala, Green, and Thompson in the past via Team USA at the Rio Olympics. Everyone has agreed to leave their egos at the door and the stars will succeed in doing so, leaving the role players no option but to follow suit.
Jason: Offensive versatility. They can run-and-gun. They can do pick-and-rolls or pick-and-pops with a number of different personnel. They can obviously shoot the three ball but they also have capable ball handlers who can drive the lane. Plus, adding Durant and his ability to create his own shot gives them another release valve in the half-court offense. All they are missing is a bruising post player, but so is almost every other team in the league. Steve Kerr must be licking his chops at all the possible schemes he can employ this year.
Nate P.: Others have touched on this, but I just want to say it explicitly: I just don’t see how you defend any lineup with their Big Four on the floor, whether it be their starting lineup or the Death Lineup or a lineup with a lucky fan chosen from the stands. What do you even try to take away from them? How do you deal with that insane spacing? I don’t think this is a question anyone can answer until we see them on the floor together and teams desperately experiment with options. But from this vantage point I just can’t imagine anyone defending them.
3. What are the team's biggest weaknesses?
Derek: Dearth of seven-footers who can walk and chew gum at the same time and all of the problems that entails: rebounding for 48 minutes, shot blocking, general interior presence.
Sami: Rim protection and general lack of Andrew Bogut. Bogut was a defensive force to be reckoned with. Zaza is good but he doesn’t have the same elite defensive skills and ball movement instincts that Bogut had and it will be interesting to see what the Warriors do to try to make up for that.
Hugo: The lack of swingman depth escaped attention this off-season. Though Andre Iguodala is one of the best bench players in the league, Ian Clark and Patrick McCaw seem to be the Warriors’ best options at the wing. They have some upside, but they’re not proven yet.
BBJ: To call the depth “shaky” would be generous. There will be times this season (and postseason) when the team depends on players 9-15 to make some plays, and we just don’t have any idea what to expect. I’m skeptical that Anderson Varejao and a parade of D-Leaguers give us much, but we’ll need a few of them to step up before this is all done.
Dean: Rim protection. Watching Bogut in the Olympics reminded me of just how good he is on defense. Hopefully Damian Jones recovers from surgery in time to get some run this season. Regardless, almost All-Star Zaza Pachulia will need to pick up the team’s defensive principles and strategies quickly. Or with the dearth of dominant big men in the league, could Durant defend centers who aren’t effective posting-up in the paint? Let’s pray that we don’t regress to the days of Nellie when D-Leaguers on 10-day contracts became rotation players…
Jason: I will say depth but I say it tentatively. I believe that Pachulia, West, McCaw, Jones, and Looney have the potential to be a great bench. This is especially true since they’ll be led by stalwarts Iguodala and Livingston, and likely have one or two starters on the floor with them as well if minutes are properly staggered. But these players will all have to combat some combination of age, inexperience, and health issues that could hinder their productivity. Until they show they can play effective minutes and let the starters get rest, depth will be the team’s weakness.
Nate P.: I don’t think the turnover problems that this team has a tendency to suffer from have gone away, though I think essentially replacing Harrison Barnes with Durant will go a long way to helping this team hold on to the ball, in that KD is someone else who the team can work through.
What I do see as a weakness that has been a problem at times during the last couple of years (especially the 2016 Western Conference Finals) is rebounding. They lost the top three offensive rebounders from their regular rotation last season (Festus Ezeli, Marreese Speights, Andrew Bogut, in that order) and three of their top four defensive rebounders.