Enemy Lines: A rival scout sizes up the Warriors
2012-13 Record: 47-35; lost to Spurs in Western Conference semifinals
Coach: Mark Jackson (third season with Warriors)
It will be interesting to see how they play without [assistant] Mike Malone [who left to become the Kings' coach]. He was a big key to running that team. Mark Jackson, he just let them play. Malone did everything.
They were really good last year, but I look at how good they would have been had center Andrew Bogut been healthy. If he is healthy and playing well, he is still one of the top centers in the league. He's a tough guy who isn't afraid to get in traffic and mix it up. He's still a strong defender and rebounder despite the injuries. He's always been a capable passer, and he makes life easier for guards because he has good hands -- you can dump the ball to him and he can finish. But his offensive game in general isn't where it was a few years ago.
Stephen Curry obviously drove their success last year. Curry has always been an unbelievable shooter, but he learned how to play point guard last year. When he is making plays and finding open teammates, he is as hard as anyone in the league to guard.
A big reason why the backcourt pairing of Curry and Klay Thompson works is because Thompson doesn't play like he has an ego. He understands that it's Curry's team. They feed off each other. Curry defers to him at times because he has confidence that Thompson can get a good shot. Thompson can shoot it from deep as a spot-up guy, in catch-and-shoot situations off screens or in pick-and-rolls.
I would expect teams to run them off the three-point line after Curry and Thompson combined to make 483 threes last year, a record for a duo. Opponents are going to gamble that their guards can't make plays off the dribble. But look at that starting lineup -- it's great. You are going to have to pick your poison. Granted, any team that lives or dies by the three could go cold in a series and lose. But they have some great shooters who won't have too many off nights.
I do worry about the lack of ball handlers after Jarrett Jack's departure. He took a lot of pressure off Curry and Thompson. He was a scoring point guard who could play both off and on the ball. He showed a lot of heart at the end of the game.
They seem to think that Andre Iguodala can play some backup point guard. I don't know. Iguodala can be a point forward, but he is not going to run an offense. Iguodala can run in transition, maybe initiate a set, but Jack was the kind of guy who could beat pressure. He did all the stuff a point guard can do. I don't see backups Toney Douglas or Kent Bazemore being able to do that.
With Iguodala, they have a lockdown defender on the wing now. That's huge in this league. I don't know anyone I'd want defending a star player on the wing with the ball more than Iguodala. He knows how to play defense with his athleticism, long arms and lateral quickness. He likes to play defense; he gets down and does it. He doesn't take possessions off when he's guarding the ball. And he's a great third option on offense. He knows that, he accepts that. He can play up tempo and finish on the break.
David Lee keeps putting up numbers. Before last season, when he made the playoffs for the first time, he was always on losing teams where someone had to score and someone had to rebound all those misses. But last season he put up big numbers again on a quality team. A power forward who can make jumpers, drive, play in the pick-and-roll and pass is a nice weapon to have. They don't run a lot of plays for him, but he just finds a way to rack up those double-doubles. He's no defensive stopper, so having Bogut healthy next to him is important.
The acquisition of Iguodala likely moves Harrison Barnes to the bench, but he'll be fine. He will be asked to be the scorer with the second unit, like Jack was last season. He can play on the block a little bit, as he showed during the playoffs when he had success as a small-ball power forward.
Their bench as a whole has questions. With Jack and Carl Landry, a legitimate low-post scorer, the Warriors had a nice inside-out combination with their second unit last season. They're both gone, and Festus Ezeli will be out for a while as he recovers from knee surgery. I like Ezeli as a backup center who can bang and do the little things to help you win.
Second-year forward Draymond Green is going to have to prove something. Jermaine O'Neal is a post-up threat, but I don't know how what he has left. He had a great year last season, when he had Phoenix's training staff breathing life back into him. Marreese Speights is a pick-and-pop guy with range but not much else. The second unit could have a tough time creating offense.