The opening week of the NBA season is, thankfully, upon us.
With a new season comes some new features. This year, I’ll be dropping a weekly preview every Monday - here you’ll find what the games are for the week, how you can watch them, storylines to watch for, and other pertinent information for the coming week of Golden State Warriors basketball.
Then I’ll cap it off every Sunday with a weekly review, recapping what transpired during the week, and where it leaves the Warriors.
So let’s blastoff. The team is fighting for a third straight title, and we’re fighting for yet another year of being unstoppable, baby.
This Week’s Games
Tuesday, October 16 vs the Oklahoma City Thunder
When: 7:30 p.m.
What to watch for: Can the Warriors come out of the gates firing? Golden State has lost their season opener two years running. In Kevin Durant’s first year with the team, the hyped-up Dubs got destroyed by the San Antonio Spurs. Last year, they jumped out to a big lead over the Houston Rockets, only to give it all back at the end. Can they keep their emotions in check here?
Why they could win: They’re at home, amped up, starting the season, and playing a Thunder team that is likely missing Russell Westbrook.
Why they could lose: We know the Thunder get hyped when they get to play the Warriors, and we know Golden State doesn’t always bring their A-game to the season opener. If they’re slow to kick things into action, the Warriors could look rusty.
Friday, October 19 at the Utah Jazz
When: 7:30 p.m.
What to watch for: How does Donovan Mitchell look in the start of his second NBA season? The Jazz could very likely meet the Warriors in the playoffs, either in the semifinals or the conference finals, and this is our first chance to see how they match up.
Why they could win: They should play better on Friday than on Tuesday. Tuesday will be the first time since the initial preseason game that Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green all suit up, and Green will be on a minutes restriction. Friday could be when the team first really gels.
Why they could lose: Utah has every reason to believe that they should be mentioned in the same sentence as the Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics. A week-one, nationally televised, home contest against the best team in basketball? They’ll be fired up to prove it.
Sunday, October 21 at the Denver Nuggets
When: 5:00 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Bay Area
What to watch for: Assuming Damian Jones is still the starter on Game 3, how does he fare against arguably the best offensive center in the league, Nikola Jokic?
Why they could win: Denver’s defense has a lot of issues. If the Warriors three-headed offensive dragon shows the rhythm that was on display in the preseason, it will be a very, very high-scoring affair - and the Warriors tend to win those.
Why they could lose: Denver isn’t quite in the same tier as Utah, but they’re another team with a lot to prove. After missing the playoffs by one game a year ago, they not only have their sights set on the postseason, but on a top-five seed. You can be sure they’ll be taking this game very seriously.
This Week’s Storylines
Damian Jones, starting center?
Despite having just 206 career minutes to his name, Damian Jones starts the season as the Warriors center. He was the starter in all five preseason games, and played above expectations. He displayed great chemistry with his fellow starters, and rolled to the hoop hard, and with dynamic athleticism.
His defensive rotations and instincts were better than many thought they should be, and his rebounding was strong. But Steve Kerr wouldn’t commit to Jones starting beyond Tuesday’s opener. And if Steven Adams is healthy - he’s currently questionable for Tuesday - Jones would face three very, very good opponents in Adams, Rudy Gobert, and Jokic. It’s a huge test for the young big.
How is Draymond?
Green missed three of the team’s preseason games due to knee soreness, before returning for Friday’s finale. He’ll take Tuesday’s opener a little slowly, as he’s not fully in game shape yet.
All eyes will be on his health and movement. Is he fully healthy, or is he a little bit hampered by the knee?
How will the rotation shake out?
You can’t take too much from preseason, but that didn’t stop Warriors fans from freaking out over the bench production. Jonas Jerebko looked like Omri Casspi 2.0. Jacob Evans III looked like he needs to start the year in Santa Cruz. Jordan Bell, while dynamic, was full of sloppiness and mistakes. Alfonzo McKinnie looked like there’s a reason his contract is non-guaranteed.
The team needs bench contributions, especially with veterans Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston getting older and dinged up, and DeMarcus Cousins sidelined for the forseeable future. The only way to get those contributions is by trusting the players, and giving them opportunities. It will be interesting to see how Kerr doles out those opportunities.
Will the two-ways play?
The Warriors only have 13 healthy players on their roster, which is the limit you can dress for any given game. But the G-League season doesn’t start until November 2, meaning the Warriors pair of two-way contracts - Damion Lee and Marcus Derrickson - are free to be a part of the team without digging into their 45 days of service time.
With 15 healthy players around for the first few weeks, will Lee and Derrickson be the two inactives every night, or will they be given some opportunities to play?
Enjoy opening week, Dub Nation!