The Golden State Warriors are projected to win 34.5 games this season by the Las Vegas oddsmakers.
That win total ties the Warriors for 11th place and out of the playoffs.
Are the Warriors truly that bad? Do the Vegas insiders believe that Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut won’t contribute or get injured again? These questions have to be factored into a win total that low. The bottom line is that Vegas thinks the Warriors are the Warriors, and things aren’t likely to change, even with an updated roster and a deeper bench.
Las Vegas usually knows its stuff and has put the line there for a reason. It is now up to the Warriors to prove that they have the talent and are a lot better team than those of past disappointing seasons.
One of the biggest questions surrounding this upcoming season is Stephen Curry, who looked to be on his way back, evidenced by his play so far this preseason. However, Curry rolled his ankle and is now shut down for the rest of the preseason.
Curry had the ankle checked on Saturday in Los Angeles and will be ready to go for the opener. He had been making moves, scoring points and dominating so far this preseason.
In his place, Jarrett Jack stepped in admirably against the Trail Blazers and piled up nine points, nine assists, five rebounds and three steals. Jack is more than capable of taking over and leading the Warriors if Curry misses any extended time.
The other health issue involves Andrew Bogut, who is still recuperating from the freak ankle injury that has sidelined him since January.
Bogut is a fierce defender, and without him, the Warriors will struggle defensively and their win total will suffer. He will also be playing limited minutes as he slowly recovers from the injury. He should be getting about 20-25 minutes during the first week of the season and will slowly progress from there.
This Warriors team should be the best since Run TMC. They now have size, depth and balance. The only thing missing is the ability to consistently attack the rim.
Talk around Warriors camp is a win total closer to 49 wins. If everything plays out right, The Warriors will make the playoffs and secure a seed anywhere from No. 6 to No. 8.
Bogut is a presence on the inside with his size and defensive ability. He will clog the lane and provide the low-post presence on offense that the Warriors have been missing for years. Festus Ezeli is progressing at a faster rate than expected, and he definitely has the big body needed to be a factor on the boards and on defense.
On the wings, the Warriors also have size and length in Klay Thompson and No. 1 draft pick Harrison Barnes. In a recent poll, Thompson was voted as the player most likely to have a breakout season (via nba.com).
Barnes should be in the discussion for the NBA Rookie of the Year Award as his size, athletic ability and basketball IQ will make him a formidable opponent. As the year progresses, he should continue to refine his skills.
The Dubs depth is what puts this team over the top. They have legitimate backups at every position. The bench lineup is set with PG Jarrett Jack, SG Brandon Rush, SF Richard Jefferson, PF Carl Landry and C Festus Ezeli.
Depth at the center position is where this team is weakest, as rookie Festus Ezeli and the once-formidable Andris Biedrins backup Bogut. Mark Jackson has also played David Lee and Carl Landry together in order to give Landry additional minutes.
By having quality talent to plug in when starters need a breather, the Dubs will be able to thwart mid-game runs and make stops late in the fourth quarter. They also have a healthy mix of youngsters and veterans whom they can rotate in for specific situations.
The Warriors will benefit early on from key injuries to teams that Vegas has ranked above them. Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves will miss six to eight weeks after breaking his right hand doing knuckle push-ups.
The Warriors will face these teams on the road during that time period and should have a better chance of getting a victory.
The Warriors see themselves winning 49 games in a perfect world. I see that it won’t be that easy as injuries, adjustments with the overhauled squad and a developing defense will limit their win total just a bit.
The 34.5 wins is almost a slap in the face to the Warriors and their faithful fanbase. The Warriors will be one of the most improved teams in the NBA this season and beyond.
The only reason the Dubs would only win 34 games is if Bogut can’t recuperate from the injury and misses most, if not all of the season. The Lee, Landry and Ezeli frontcourt could only patch some of the holes.
The Warriors should win at least 44 games and sneak into one of the last two playoff spots. Mark Jackson will show off his abilities as a coach, and the Warriors will be looked at as a competitive team on the rise.
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