Golden State Warriors: 4 Factors Necessary for a Winning Season
The last few years (well, decades) haven’t been good to the Warriors. The last All-Star out of Golden State was Latrell Sprewell in 1997 and they have only been to the playoffs once since 1994. But that luck could change this year if four key things go right.
In order for the Golden State Warriors to have their first winning season in several years, a few important things need to happen.
The Monta Ellis-Andrew Bogut Trade Has to Work Out
Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
Bogut could be exactly what the Warriors need. He is a big defensive force, something Golden State has been lacking for years. For his career, Bogut has averaged 12.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. Beyond his stats, however, Bogut has offered a great defensive threat to both opposing big men and guards driving the lane.
The problem with Andrew Bogut is that he is very injury-prone. He has played in 36, 69, 65 and 12 games in the last four seasons, which isn’t a good sign.
The Warriors also gave up a lot to get Bogut. While Monta Ellis was obviously not helping Golden State to a lot of wins, he was still a great player and a lot of teams would have been willing to trade for him. They also gave up former No. 6 pick Ekpe Udoh, who showed defensive promise and averaged 1.6 blocks in only 20 minutes per game.
Basically, Andrew Bogut is a high-risk, high-reward acquisition for the Golden State Warriors. If healthy, he will be able to give them a huge inside presence on both offense and defense. That, however, is a very big if.
Stephen Curry's Ankle Must Hold Up
Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE
Stephen Curry is easily the Warriors' most promising talent. The Davidson product is a lights-out shooter, with career percentages of 47.3 percent from the field, 44.1 percent from beyond the arc and 90.1 percent from the free-throw line. With those shooting numbers, he has averaged 17.5 points per game, while adding 5.8 assists and 4 rebounds.
Unfortunately, Stephen Curry has also become-injury prone due to recurring ankle problems. He missed just two games his first season, followed by nine the next season and 40 in the last. His minutes per game have also dropped from 36.2 to 28.2 per game.
If Curry goes through another injury-filled year, it will give the Warriors a difficult decision. Curry will be a restricted free agent after next season and somebody will definitely put up a lot of money for him.
When healthy, Curry is a dangerous player. He can hold his own on the defensive end, getting 1.7 steals per game in his career. More importantly, Curry is an offensive playmaker who makes the team much better when he is on the floor.
The question is whether Curry can stay on the court next year. It will be key to see whether his ankle will be able to hold up for the entire 82-game season. If he is able to play good minutes for the entire year, this team can win a lot of games. Like Bogut, however, that "if" is a big one.
Klay Thompson Cannot Endure a Sophomore Slump
Cary Emondson-US PRESSWIRE
The Sophomore Slump is a phenomenon in the NBA in which players who were dominant in their rookie seasons regress in their second years. Maybe it’s because other teams have more time and film to figure out their habits. Or perhaps it’s just the players relaxing after making it in the NBA.
There are some pretty obvious examples of recent players going through a sophomore slump. For instance, Tyreke Evans averaged 20.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game in his rookie year. In his second season, those numbers dropped to 17.8 points, 5.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game. His shooting percentages took a dive as well, from 45.8 percent to 40.9 percent.
Either way, the Warriors cannot afford for Klay Thompson to go through something like that. Last year he averaged 12.5 points, 2.4 rebounds and two assists per game, although those numbers spiked after Monta Ellis was traded.
Thompson has looked like a budding star at times in his short NBA tenure. He needs to have another good year and continue his stellar shooting in order for the Warriors to have success offensively. If he begins to shoot poorly or cannot score easily, then Golden State will struggle.
Harrison Barnes Needs to Own His Role
Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE
For the first time in a long while, the Warriors got lucky in the draft. Somehow, Harrison Barnes managed to drop to them at the No. 7 pick when Cleveland decided to take the less heralded Dion Waiters out of Syracuse.
Barnes may have fallen into a perfect situation. While the Warriors will need his help on both ends, he won’t be forced to try and do too much on offense. Having playmakers like Curry and Thompson, as well as a big scoring threat like David Lee, will give Harrison Barnes a lot of open shots and little need to handle the ball.
All of that will be good for Barnes. He will be allowed to develop his offensive game while focusing on giving the Warriors a defensive presence.
Two things could go wrong in this situation. First, Barnes could attempt to do too much on offense. That isn’t likely since he will be the fourth-best scorer in the starting lineup, but the threat is still there.
More likely, Barnes could completely disappear on offense. Since he will very rarely have the ball in his hands, he could easily stop trying as hard on offense and focus on his defense, which would be a detriment to Golden State.
If all goes well, Barnes will grow in his role on offense and become a serious scoring threat. Furthermore, if the last four things go as according to plan, the Golden State Warriors should be competing for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.