Everyone associated with the Golden State Warriors is worried about the same thing—ankles.
Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut, the Warriors premier offensive and defensive players, are both coming off ankle surgeries. The Warriors march to the NBA playoff for the first time since 2007 is dependent upon the strength of those ankles, although there are other players on this team too.
The Warriors have the most balanced team that they have had in years, but it doesn’t mean there is nothing to fret about this season.
Along with Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry, here are the seven players that will also give the Warriors cause for concern heading into next season.
Will his ankles be 100 percent to start the year?
The Warriors playoff hopes are dependent on two sets of ankles. The first pair belongs to Stephen Curry.
With his injury history, the Warriors worry about him every time he laces up his shoes.
The Warriors need Curry to stay healthy to win. Without him, they don’t stand much of a chance for the postseason.
How will they know when it is time to get him back on court? If Curry says his ankles are 100 percent, is that like 75 percent for anyone else? The Warriors can afford to be patient with Curry now that they have acquired Jarrett Jack, but not too patient. They need him on the floor to get through the tough start to the season.
As the expected leader on this new Warriors team, Curry stated (via ESPN.com):
"It's an opportunity for me to be a vocal leader. I want to lead the charge as the point guard. I've let the rookies know we're going to be a tight-knit group. My job is to put it all together.”
If he is going to be the man to put it all together, he needs to have no limitations.
Will Bogut's ankle be healthy enough to start the year?
The Warriors entire defensive scheme hinges on the play and health of center Andrew Bogut.
Bogut is arguably the Warriors most important player. He is the biggest part of the Warriors defensive transformation this season.
Coming off surgery to repair his fractured ankle, Bogut may not be ready to play in the season opener.
Playing defensive basketball will be foreign to the Warriors. The sooner Bogut is in the lineup, the quicker they can adjust. The worst thing in the world is to bring back a seven-foot center that puts 260 pounds on a tender ankle too soon.
The Warriors need to be extra cautious. If that means Bogut has to sit out the first week or two, so be it. If Bogut is unable to go, a combination of rookie Festus Ezeli, Andris Biedrins and Jeremy Tyler will man the center position.
With only those three behind him, the Warriors can’t be too anxious to get him back before he is ready.
When do the Warriors not worry about Biedrins?
Or have they just given up?
The Warriors are paying $9 million to a player that they can’t even rely on to be a backup.
When Bogut is on the floor, he is going to carry the defensive weight of the entire team. Perhaps now that Biedrins is only expected to provide substance for a small amount of time, he could be productive. The lower the expectations for Biedrins the better.
When Kwame Brown was starting at center, Biedrins was actually playing decent basketball. Maybe the Warriors can find way to get a small amount of production out of him as the main backup to Bogut?
With the inexperience of the other big men on the Warriors roster, they might need to rely on Biedrins to spell Bogut off the bench.
The Warriors had a huge void at small forward last season.
Barnes was selected with the seventh overall pick in last June's draft pick that is expected to fill the gap for the Warriors.
Will Barnes be ready to fill that void?
Barnes will provide excellent outside shooting, but so will the Warriors starting backcourt. If Barnes ends up starting, will he get lost in the shuffle behind two better shooters?
The Warriors have a tough decision to make with Barnes. Do they start him immediately, or do they bring him off the bench?
With his inexperience, and with Brandon Rush re-signed, it would be better to bring him off the bench alongside Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack. Barnes could be the top option—a role he is used to—albeit on the second unit.
The Warriors tacked on $11 million in the form of Richard Jefferson for the chance to get a late 2012 NBA Draft pick.
That pick turned out to be Festus Ezeli.
But how much can the Warriors expect out of Ezeli?
That was a steep price to pay, but the Warriors got a center they are hoping to be the main backup to Bogut.
Is that too much to hope from the rookie?
The high hopes are there because the only other center really vying for playing time this season is Biedrins.
The Warriors are counting on him to fill in for Bogut. Whether or not he is ready for the role is another question.
The only thing the Warriors have to worry about with Klay Thompson is how well he fits alongside Curry in the backcourt.
Thompson and Curry have the talent to be a premiere backcourt tandem in the NBA, but will he accept playing second fiddle to Curry?
Head coach Mark Jackson has his hands full and needs to handle this situation carefully, and he needs to establish the hierarchy on this team. Curry, when healthy, is going to be the man with the ball in his hands at the end of the game.
The Warriors have to make sure Thompson will be OK with that, even if he has the skill set to be the top option.
The Warriors are actually going to need Jefferson this year.
With the Warriors thinking playoffs, Jefferson is really the only member of this team with playoff experience.
The problem is, does he have anything left in the tank to help the Warriors on the floor? The Warriors need to find a useful way to garner Jefferson’s experience, whether it is on or off the floor.
With his exorbitant contract, there is little chance the Warriors can unload him.
They will have to find the best way to use his experience in this team.