This fall, the Golden State Warriors will be the best prepared to make a playoff run since the “We Believe” era of 2007 led by point guard Baron Davis.
Although he may have been popular because of his scoring ability, the Warriors are a better team without Monta Ellis.
Having watched Ellis play since the beginning of his NBA career, I have always firmly believed that he has the potential (and has shown he is capable) of being an elite scorer in the NBA. But he has taken shots and playmaking opportunities away from above-average scorers in the process.
The Warriors have been known as a high-powered offense in recent years—their main problem is awful defense—and Ellis has averaged roughly 20 points per game in the blue and gold.
While that is an impressive number, his inclination toward one-on-one and fast-break opportunity baskets does not help build team chemistry. Stephen Curry’s full-time acquisition of the playmaking role as a facilitator will help the Warriors reach their full potential.
And the addition of Jarrett Jack will enable Curry to also take on a scoring role as a shooting guard, something at which he is more than proficient.
Curry’s health is key to the Warriors' success.
Andrew Bogut, David Lee, Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson are all excellent players and create the opportunity for a team-oriented style of basketball. Moving toward a Spurs/Pacers/76ers type of basketball is something that should suit the Warriors very well.
Where will the W's end up in the Western Conference next season?
With Bogut manning the middle, a 20-and-10 power forward, a promising rookie and a proven veteran (Richard Jefferson) at the small forward position and knockdown three-point shooters at the point and shooting guard, the Warriors have all of the tools to be successful.
Even their defense is improved by Bogut’s presence, and Thompson is somewhat of an underrated defender. The Warriors won’t be as much of a run-and-gun team.
Looking at Golden State’s competition in the Western Conference, they nearly certainly will not be able to compete with the Spurs, Thunder, Lakers and Clippers without a superstar. It will probably be a stretch to compete with Memphis and Denver, which means six slots in the West are probably reserved for the 2013 playoffs.
But the Warriors could very well give the rest of the league a run for its money and fight for the No. 7 or No. 8 spot in the West.
The next most obvious threat to a Warriors playoff berth is the Dallas Mavericks. But they have become slowly dismantled with the losses of Jason Terry to the Boston Celtics and 39-year-old Jason Kidd to the New York Knicks.
If Anthony Davis can revive the Hornets, they may challenge the Warriors, but the reality is that the Warriors have the talent to support their third playoff appearance in nearly two decades.
Isn’t it about time?
Read more of my Warriors and other basketball writing at Bases and Baskets.com.