There’s a general rule to preseason analysis. It goes like this: Preseason means nothing.
For the most part, that’s true. The preseason means very little, because most players are just going through the motions, trying to not get injured, most coaches are holding their cards close to their chest, and most teams are playing G-Leaguers throughout the second half of the games.
The Golden State Warriors went 1-4. There is no need for any pieces dissecting why the two-time defending champions are struggling to win. If Steph Curry shot 3-20 from deep (spoiler: he didn’t), there would be no reason to worry about his jump shot.
With that said, there are little things we can gather - or at least try to gather - from preseason play. Of the 16 players on the Warriors roster, 14 played - only DeMarcus Cousins and Damion Lee didn’t.
Here’s something we learned from all 14 players.
Jordan Bell is still young
As a rookie, Bell flashed signs of star power. Those flashes were, at times, offset by an eagerness and sloppiness that often left the coaches scratching their heads. While Bell will be better in year two, and play a huge role, he’s also still a young, energetic player who can play a little out of control. Bell had 13 turnovers and 12 fouls in under 100 minutes of preseason play, and was a little too eager to play on the perimeter - he earned only two free throws.
Quinn Cook is part of the crew
Cook was a two-way player last year, but, for the first time in his young NBA career, he enters the season with a guaranteed contract. And it showed. Cook looked more comfortable and confident, and was at times a vocal leader with the team’s young players. Cook is no longer the unproven player trying to make the team - now he’s one of the crew, responsible for growing the team and developing the younger players.
Steph Curry is aggressive
Curry is picking up where he left off last year when he went down with an injury. Steph spent the preseason looking as aggressive as he has been at any time since the 2015-16 season. He was looking for his shot, playing with the style and flair that earned him the unanimous MVP award, and knocking in his threes at a higher-than 50% clip.
It looks like Curry is planning on putting his name back in the MVP ring.
Steph is ready for the season to start. pic.twitter.com/ynvb8TwHWv— Golden State of Mind (@unstoppablebaby) October 13, 2018
Marcus Derrickson is versatile
The Warriors second two-way contract player is unlikely to reach Draymondian levels, but he has more than a little Draymond to his game. At 6’7” and about 250 pounds, Derrickson displayed the strength to defend 4s and 5s, and the athleticism to defend 3s and small 4s. Add in the decent three-pointer, and Derrickson can give the Warriors a bit of everything in a pinch.
Kevin Durant is locked in
It’s going to be a loud year for the two-time Finals MVP. Durant will likely opt out of his contract in June, making him a free agent for the third consecutive year. KD has let it be known that he loves the Warriors, but has been noncommittal about his future.
But it doesn’t look like the endless rumors about his future are getting to him. He spent the preseason looking fully focused amidst numerous reports and speculation.
Jacob Evans III isn’t ready
The future is bright for the Warriors’ rookie, but his jumper is simply not at an NBA-level yet. The first-round pick shot 6-25 in the preseason, including 0-10 from beyond the arc. Small sample size? Yes. But it follows a Summer League in which he shot 12-37, and his jumper doesn’t look that smooth.
On top of that, Steve Kerr wasn’t giving Evans a ton of minutes, opting instead to start other young, unproven players in place of the rookie wing. He’s got a ways to go.
Draymond Green is motivated
Few things are scarier for opposing teams than a motivated Draymond Green. This is, after all, a player who can recite all 34 players drafted before he was. He takes chips, puts them on his shoulder, and runs with them.
During the preseason, Green admitted that the team was unmotivated last year, but said they won’t be this year, and that he’s got his eyes set on another Defensive Player of the Year trophy.
Andre Iguodala is Andre Iguodala
Just as we’ve come to expect, Andre Iguodala coasted through parts of some games, but showed off stellar athleticism and elite basketball IQ at other parts. There’s not much left to learn about Iguodala’s game - he’s good. Very good.
Jonas Jerebko’s name is not pronounced the way you think
The more you know!
We’ve been saying Jonas Jerebko’s name wrong since he started in the NBA pic.twitter.com/F6zgtpAUly— Kerith Burke (@KerithBurke) October 15, 2018
Damian Jones can roll to the rim
There are a lot of questions about the Warriors young center, who will start in the season opener despite only 206 NBA minutes to his name. But those bemoaning the loss of JaVale McGee can take solace in Jones’ preseason. The third-year center showed the ability to set strong screens and roll hard, while putting his highly-touted athleticism on full display. He had stellar chemistry with Golden State’s playmakers, and found himself on the receiving end of many preseason lobs.
Shaun Livingston is going to play a big role
Like Iguodala, there wasn’t much to learn from the veteran Livingston. But we did learn, from watching his teammates, that the team will need to rely on Livingston a bit this year, until the rest of the bench proves themselves.
Kevon Looney’s third year wasn’t a fluke
Of the Warriors’ three centers, Looney is very clearly the best when it comes to switching in the pick and roll and guarding perimeter players. Steve Kerr will spread the minutes out for all three, but expect Looney to play starter minutes against certain matchups.
Alfonzo McKinnie can help
McKinnie isn’t going to explode onto the scene as a star player, and likely won’t see many minutes. But for a team with limited bench options, McKinnie’s smarts, energy, athleticism, and versatility earned him a contract, and will earn him minutes during some of the longer stretches of the season when the core players need rest.
Klay Thompson is expanding his game
Thompson is quietly one of the hardest-working players in the game, and it’s clear that he spent the offseason working on his weaknesses. The second Splash Brother looked far more comfortable handling the ball and initiating the offense, and Steve Kerr even had fun creating sets that started with Klay. He also crashed the glass hard. Look for Thompson to expand his game this year.