Expect the playoffs, for once.
Yes, this is always a dangerous proposition when talking Golden State Warriors basketball. Their fans are addicted to convincing themselves that next year will be different, next year won't be so unlucky.
Well, I'm here to say, "Next year will be different." It's as though Golden State is the team that cried "Playoffs!" Joe Lacob and Mark Jackson predicted as much last year, only to fall short. Their meager record was not indicative of the talent level, though, as Golden State tanked hard and fast towards a top-seven protected lottery pick. GSW just missed, and next season, I'd anticipate that they will finally get back to the postseason.
This is a fine "if healthy" team, and that's the caveat. Between Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut, the Warriors have two prominent players who often ride pine due to injuries. The Warriors have traditionally struggled to keep players healthy, but they have recently overhauled former owner Chris Cohan's medical staff.
But let us not dismiss a good "if healthy" team. The Warriors are rarely good, even if healthy. Andris Biedrins has been a void at center, and Andrew Bogut is one of the best centers in basketball. This is a massive upgrade, and the cost of Monta Ellis was worth it. As an Ellis doubter, I actually believe the Warriors ceded more in letting go of Ekpe Udoh, considering how poorly Monta lineups fared.
The addition is crucial because David Lee is a plus offensive player and a minus defensive presence. GSW needed a frontcourt force who could cover for Lee's mistakes on defense. With Bogut in the rotation, Lee can be freed to provide value.
While the Warriors require that Andrew Bogut stay healthy, they've become deep almost everywhere else. To spell Lee, GSW signed the underrated Carl Landry to a two-year deal (as reported by Marcus Thompson). Landry is undersized but efficient at scoring and drawing fouls. There aren't many bench players who can exceed his value.
Jarrett Jack was signed on as a backup point guard in the offseason. At a near-18 PER, he's a capable starter for half the teams in the league.
On the wings, the Warriors have a plethora of options. Klay Thompson had an encouraging rookie season. Unlike Ellis, he is taller than many of his matchups at 2-guard. He also doesn't dominate the ball. Harrison Barnes comes in as a tall, athletic, highly-touted collegiate who fell to the Dubs at number seven. Brandon Rush appears to be returning as an efficient "three-and-D" player who makes few mistakes.
This is an "if healthy" team, but at least it's one with some depth. The onus is on GSW's medical staff to pull through and allow for this squad to thrive. At the moment, I prefer their chances to those of Minnesota and Utah. But few have lost money betting against the Warriors. We shall see.
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