Golden State Warriors 2012-13 Season Preview
Playoffs: Did not qualify
Draft picks: Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, Draymond Green, Ognjen Kuzmic
Signings/trades: Carl Landry, Jarrett Jack, Kent Bazemore
Dorell Wright, Kwame Brown, Nate Robinson, Mickell Gladness, Ishmael Smith
Projected starting lineup
C - Andrew Bogut
PF - David Lee
SF - Brandon Rush
SG - Klay Thompson
PG - Stephen Curry
What to expect
The Golden State Warriors finally ended the Monta Ellis era midway through last season, trading the high-octane guard to the Milwaukee Bucks in a deal that brought Bogut to Oakland. Bogut did not play a single game with the Warriors last season due to injury, but he is ready to go for the 2012-13 campaign.
Plain and simple, Golden State will contend for a playoff spot this season. It has one of the deepest teams in the league, as the additions of players like Landry and Jack will provide ample support off the bench for Mark Jackson's club, and the rookie Barnes may very well end up overtaking Rush for the starting small forward spot sooner rather than later.
Not only that, but the Warriors have great center depth, with players like Jeremy Tyler (who may play some power forward this year), Andris Biedrins and the rookie Ezeli behind Bogut.
Of course, as nice as it is to have depth, it's more important to have a potent starting five, and Golden State has that. The biggest question is whether or not Bogut and Curry can stay healthy, as those two have been plagued by injuries over the course of their careers. When they're on the floor, though, they are two very good players, perhaps in the upper echelon of each of their respective positions.
This could be the year that Curry really breaks out. There is no doubt that the kid has the ability to be one of the better scorers in the league; he just needs to stay healthy. He has endured ankle problems ever since coming into the league, but when the Davidson product has been on the floor, he has produced.
In 26 games last season, Curry averaged 14.7 points off 49 percent shooting. He also shot an incredible 45.5 percent from three. In the year prior, the guard averaged 18.6 points, demonstrating how much room he actually has to grow. It should be great watching him this year.
Then you have Thompson, the sharpshooting 2-guard who replaced Ellis. After the All-Star break (starting about two weeks before Ellis was dealt), the 22-year-old averaged 17 points per game and shot just under 40 percent from beyond the arc, displaying how dynamic of a scorer he can be.
The combination of Thompson and Curry in the backcourt has the potential to be absolutely deadly.
All eyes will also be on Barnes, the University of North Carolina standout who was one of the smoothest offensive players to come out of this draft. He has been knocked by some for being too passive and not taking over games late, but fortunately for him, he won't be asked to do that in his rookie year. He has the talent to be that type of go-to scorer in a couple of years, though, and if he does end up taking Rush's spot in the starting lineup, look for him to be one of the top Rookie of the Year candidates.
Where the Dubs' problems in the past have been on the defensive end, but that should change with Bogut in the middle. Bogut is known for being a stout defender at the center position, and Rush is also a very good perimeter defender. Those two should be able to clean up the mess of players like Lee and Thompson, who are not exactly stalwarts on that side of the floor.
Expect the Warriors to give opponents absolute fits with their amount of depth and versatility, and that will result, at the very least, in them contending for a playoff spot right until the very end.
Key player: Bogut
Although Curry also needs to have a big year, Bogut is the most significant game-changer for Golden State. He needs to stay on the court if the Warriors have serious playoff aspirations.
That's easier said than done, as the seven-footer has only averaged 45.5 games played over the past four seasons. Golden State cannot expect to make the postseason if Bogut is only playing in 45 contests. He needs to be there almost the entire way through, and given his history, that may be a tall task.
If he does remain healthy, he will add a dimension to the Warriors that they haven't seen in what seems like decades. Golden State has always been able to score with the best of them over the past number of seasons, but it just has not been able to stop its opponents from doing the same. Bogut could be the guy who plugs that hole, and if the Dubs are keeping their opponents from lighting up the scoreboard, look out.
This was an outstanding pick by the Warriors at No. 30. Not only is Ezeli huge at 6'11", 255 lbs, but he runs the floor pretty well. There is also not all that much pressure on him to perform given all of the depth that already presides in Golden State's frontcourt.
Ezeli is one of those guys who could end up being a Kendrick Perkins-type on the defensive end of the floor. He doesn't have terrific rebounding technique, but his size will allow him to pull down some boards, and he is just a big body to intimidate opposing wings from driving into the lane. Ezeli doesn't have much of an offensive game, but that's not what the Warriors drafted him for.
Guys like Bogut and Ezeli could potentially change the culture in Golden State, taking them from a laughingstock defensively to actually being respectable.
Playoffs: Potential No. 8 seed
With all of the health concerns that surround Bogut and Curry, it's tough to pencil this team in for a playoff spot. The Western Conference's depth also makes realizing that dream even more difficult.
It can certainly be done, though. The Warriors undoubtedly have the talent to sneak into the playoffs as a low seed, and they could end up being a royal pain in the rear end for one of the higher seeds in the first round, as well. Still, due to the fact that Bogut and Curry (particularly Bogut) have historically had trouble staying on the floor, the status of this ballclub is really up in the air.
Regardless, at least Golden State fans will have plenty to look forward to this season.
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