The preseason has come and gone like a candle in the wind, and alas, the main event that we have all been waiting for will start on Thursday, October 24. Warriors basketball returns for an anticipated opening day matchup against title-favorites Los Angeles Clippers, and the return to underdog status for the Warriors is at the forefront of the various storylines surrounding the team.
SB Nation NBA has released their megapreview of the upcoming 2019-20 season, complete with 100 pressing questions written by Mike Prada and mini-previews for each team written by a member of each team blog’s staff. I had the pleasure of being given the task of writing the preview for the Warriors, which involved answering a few questions about the team’s breakout player as well as how the team will fare throughout the season.
Among the aforementioned 100 questions, there are five that specifically pertain to the Warriors. If you don’t have time to peruse the entire list, here are those five for you to read and ponder over.
What is D’Angelo Russell’s best role with the Warriors?
“The Warriors signing Russell was so out of left field that many of us (myself included) figured they acquired him to be a trade asset instead of a foundational player. That could still happen, but it certainly hasn’t been the party line coming out of Oakland San Francisco during the preseason. So how will the Warriors, who ran fewer pick-and-rolls as a team than Russell did individually last season, integrate Russell’s skill-set into their post-dynasty reboot? Is Russell now the point guard, or will he be asked to play off ball to facilitate a Stephen Curry resurgence? Will he be used often with Curry, or was he acquired to buttress the non-Curry units that are sure to struggle for offense? Can Golden State possibly defend with a Curry-Russell backcourt? I have so many questions.”
In case you missed it, I recently dove into D’Angelo Russell’s pick-and-roll success against the Los Angeles Lakers last Wednesday night. Although a small sample size, there is evidence that Russell will thrive within a slow and methodical type of half-court offense, the questions being — as stated above — his ability to co-exist with Stephen Curry and willingness to adhere to being an off-ball player.
How is Draymond Green supposed to cover up the Warriors’ defensive holes?
“Fun parlor game if you’re not a Warriors fan: who is the best perimeter defender on the roster with Klay Thompson sidelined? Alfonzo McKinnie? Could it possibly be Stephen Curry? That’s OK, you might say, because the Warriors still have Draymond Green, a player some idiot once called “a defensive genius unlike any the NBA has ever seen.” But Green also was famously out of shape last regular season before going on a hunger strike to terrorize playoff opponents. That was fine when the Warriors had Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livington, and a healthy Thompson to cover for him, but it’s not going to work this year. (Also, Green’s at his best guarding nobody and roaming as a help defender, which doesn’t work as well when everyone else can’t guard anyone).”
If you’ve been living under a rock, Alfonzo McKinnie was recently waived to make room for Marquese Chriss. The Warriors’ corps of wings is now composed of Glenn Robinson III (who has won the starting job) and Alec Burks (who has missed the entire preseason due to injury). With Klay Thompson sidelined till at least the All-Star break, the Warriors’ wing situation is looking rather shaky, putting more pressure on Draymond Green in shouldering an increased responsibility of anchoring the Warriors defense.
How important was Klay Thompson to the Warriors being THE WARRIORS?
“Klay Thompson has always been viewed as the low-key essential cog in the Warriors’ devastating machine. Spiritually, he was the one who never got phased by the surrounding drama that comes with combining such incredible talent. Emotionally, he was the player who most demoralized opponents with barrages of made threes. Schematically, he didn’t need the ball to thrive on offense and took on all sorts of defensive assignments while doing the dirty work that Draymond Green and others got credit for cleaning up. If you wanted to be smart or counterintuitive, you’d declare that Thompson was the player who really made the Warriors the Warriors! With that in mind, how the heck do the Warriors cope with his extended absence due to a torn ACL? If they cannot despite still having Curry and Green as anchors, then maybe Thompson really was the glue holding their fragile ecosystem together.”
On behalf of GSoM and the entirety of Dub Nation, I will answer the question above: VERY IMPORTANT INDEED.
What kind of coach is Steve Kerr, anyway?
“The Warriors’ coach has lived a charmed life since taking over before the 2014-15 season. He gets credit for installing the Warriors’ signature offensive style and managing his players’ emotions while dealing with debilitating back pain of his own, but he freely admits he benefited from the foundation the previous coaching staff set. Now that the core of those teams is gone, it’s Kerr’s turn to lay down a foundation for the Warriors’ next generation. With D’Angelo Russell arriving and several rotation spots that must be filled by younger players, Kerr must craft a different system than the one he used to great effect over the past five years. What system will that be, and is he really capable of maximizing a different kind of roster? We’ll learn a lot about Kerr’s coaching chops this season.”
I’ve been a huge proponent of Steve Kerr’s egalitarian motion offense, as well as his ability to manage his players without letting egos get too out of control. With that said, I do agree that he has had the rare and fortunate privilege of handling superstars during his five-year run as head coach. With a team full of youth and uncertainties, this is his chance to prove that he’s not just someone who has had a proverbial silver spoon in his mouth in terms of coaching.
What does a fully unleashed Stephen Curry look like?
“To our detriment and Curry’s benefit, the subsequent arrival of Kevin Durant put that unleashed version of Steph on ice. We didn’t think it’d ever return. Now, Durant’s departure and the break-up of the Warriors’ dynasty will force Curry to embrace his inner gunner like he did in that breathtaking 2015-16 season. The 40 points he dropped in a preseason game against the Timberwolves was an early shot across the bow to the rest of the NBA. Curry turns 32 this season, so it may be unrealistic to expect a direct copy of that magical 2015-16 year. Still, he’s shown enough of his old self when freed from KD’s shadow over the last three years to suggest that Ruthless Steph still exists somewhere in there. Now that the Warriors need every one of those moments to even compete in the Western Conference, it better come out of hibernation.”
Stephen Curry has shown that he is still capable of shouldering the majority of the offensive workload. The question is this: Can he stay healthy and sustain his ability to be the focal point of the offense over the course of a long 82-game season, especially at the not-so-young age of 31 (going on 32)?
As for the mini-preview of the Warriors written by yours truly, I earmarked rookie Jordan Poole as the breakout player for the Warriors, as well as posting my final prediction based on Vegas’ win-loss projections.
“Vegas has the Warriors at a 48.5 win total. Based on last year’s standings, this would put them at around the 7th or 8th seed in the West. That is a reasonable prediction – that is, if Curry and Green manage to stay healthy, and if they get plenty of support from Russell, Poole, and the rest of their young players. I’ll choose the optimistic route by saying the Warriors will match Vegas’ prediction. Will that be enough for them to sneak into the postseason? I’d say yes, good for an 8th seed and a chance to relive ‘We Believe’.”
FINAL PREDICTION: 49-33
Check out the rest of the preview here.
Who will be the Warriors’ breakout player?
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Glenn Robinson III
Will the Warriors be over or under Vegas’ 48.5 win projection?
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