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Golden State Warriors: Roster Preview, Predictions and Storylines in 2012-13

Alex KayCorrespondent IOctober 25, 2012

Golden State Warriors: Roster Preview, Predictions and Storylines in 2012-13

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    The Golden State Warriors finished the 2011-12 campaign on one of the more bizarre “high notes” in the league. They ended up losing nine of their last 10 games, but gained the No. 7 overall draft pick in the process.

    It was the culmination of a long, arduous and painful transition from former coach Don Nelson’s run-and-gun Dubs to current headman Marc Jackson’s defensive-minded unit that has been carefully molded over the summer.

    Did the Warriors' overhauled ownership and front office successfully remake this Golden State roster? Or are we going to see another disappointing, injury-plagued season from the W’s?

    Keep reading to find out what’s in store for this club in the 2012-13 Golden State Warriors season preview, which includes key free-agency additions, notable departures, a projected starting lineup and depth chart, strengths and weaknesses of the roster, a predicted outcome and much more.

Key Arrivals

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    Jarrett Jack (Trade with New Orleans Hornets)

    Carl Landry (Free Agency)

    Harrison Barnes (2012 Draft)

    Festus Ezeli (2012 Draft)

    Draymond Green (2012 Draft)

     

    It was a relatively quiet offseason for GM Bob Myers, who was limited in his flexibility due to cap space and guaranteed contracts.

    Remember, the Warriors were major players during the trade deadline last season. The team shipped Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh over to the Milwaukee Bucks for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson (the latter quickly being flipped for Richard Jefferson) in order to increase their defensive efficiency and add a legitimate center.

    Myers didn’t need to make too many major changes, but did send swingman Dorell Wright to Philly in exchange for backup PG Jarrett Jack from New Orleans in a three-team deal. This trade provides a solid rotational player and insurance for Curry’s oft-injured ankle. It also clears room for the development of their prized rookie.

    If you recall, Golden State shut down David Lee and Steph Curry towards the end of the campaign, in order to increase its chances of drawing the No. 7 or lower pick in the draft lottery. Had the franchise’s first-rounder been selected at No. 8 or above, the pick that became Harrison Barnes would have been shipped to Utah.

    This gambit paid off, and Barnes is a perfect fit with this roster. The UNC product is widely expected to either start or split time with Brandon Rush, a player that was a significant boon to the rotation last season.

    Golden State had more draft picks, which it elected to use on Festus Ezeli at No. 30 (a center out of Vanderbilt), Draymond Green at No. 35 (a versatile forward from Michigan State) and a stash-in-EuroLeague project named Ognjen Kuzmic at No. 52.

    Ezeli could start the season as the backup center behind Bogut, and Green provides solid depth to both forward positions.

    Aside from the draft and Jack trade, the only “major” move that the Dubs made was acquiring PF Carl Landry via free agency. He’s a great defender and could quickly become one of coach Jackson’s favorite players off the bench. 

Key Losses

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    Dorell Wright (Trade with Philadelphia 76ers)

    Dominic McGuire (Free Agency)

    Nate Robinson (Free Agency)

     

    The Warriors had a ton of guaranteed contracts and didn’t want to make any rash moves, so it’s no surprise that only three players from the rotation departed over the summer.

    Dorell Wright is the most notable name missing from training camp, as he helped the team with 10.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last year, while hitting 36 percent of his three-point attempts. He started 61 games in 2011-12 and 82 games the season prior, but it’s now time for Barnes to assume the SF duties in the Bay Area.

    McGuire was a defensive standout for the Dubs, something the Raptors certainly took note of when they gave the five-year veteran an undisclosed deal in the offseason. His minutes are likely to be absorbed by Rush, Barnes and Jefferson.

    Finally, Robinson—best known for his selfish gunning and winning the slam dunk contest on three separate occasions—is now on the Chicago Bulls. He was a solid scorer off the bench, but he would have been a much better fit for Nelson’s Warriors, not Jackson’s. 

Projected Starting Lineup and Depth Chart

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    Position

    Starter

    Bench

    Reserve

    Point Guard

    Stephen Curry

    Jarrett Jack

    Charles Jenkins

    Shooting Guard

    Klay Thompson

    Brandon Rush

    Kent Bazemore

    Small Forward

    Harrison Barnes

    Brandon Rush

    Richard Jefferson

    Power Forward

    David Lee

    Carl Landry

    Draymond Green

    Center

    Andrew Bogut

    Festus Ezeli

    Jeremy Tyler/Andris Biedrins

     

    This is a strong team that goes two deep at nearly every position. This is an absolute necessity, as many of the key players have been extremely injury-prone during their careers. 

    At the 1, Curry will start for as long as his ankle will hold up, and Jack has been acquired to back him up at the position. Jenkins will see some reserve minutes for the foreseeable future, although he performed well when Curry was inactive last season.

    Klay Thompson could get the nod at the 2, as he had a strong finish to his rookie season and the sky seems to be the limit for the sweet-shooting off guard. Brandon Rush, a potential starter at SF, will slide over to the position when Thompson isn’t on the court.

    Barnes and Rush are currently battling for the right to start at the 3, but coach Jackson has been leaning towards the rookie during the preseason. If he holds onto the job, expect Rush to become the W’s sixth man and play a lot of SG and SF.

    Lee is reprising his role as the top PF, with a solid backup in Landry now behind him. This is a great combination of players to have at the position, as substitutions can be made depending on whether the team needs more firepower or interior defense.

    We’ll eventually see Bogut starting at the pivot, something that didn’t happen last year as the big man was nursing an injured ankle and might still be by opening night’s tipoff. If that’s the case, Ezeli should get the go-ahead and then assume spell duties when the Australian is ready to return. 

Strengths

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    As much as it was the trademark of the Nelson run-and-gun Dubs, shooting is still the best asset for this Bay Area franchise.

    They simply have snipers who can bombard from long-range and hit any shot on the floor. Between Curry, Thompson, Rush, Jefferson and rookie Barnes, there is going to be a lot of great spacing, as defenders simply cannot leave these players unguarded—they will pay the price.

    The other major strength of the 2012-13 Warriors is their bench. It’s deep and talented, with a perfect mix of youthful promise and veteran savvy.

    Ideally, Rush, will assume the sixth-man role, with Jefferson and Landry forming the main eight-man rotation. Ezeli and Jack should see plenty of regular-season minutes as well. 

    As long as coach Jackson can massage the minutes properly, the Dubs should always look fresh and motivated. 

Weaknesses

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    As hard as first-time coach Jackson is trying to build an elite defensive unit, the pieces just aren’t in place yet.

    Bogut certainly has the potential, but a rash of injuries have been a setback in recent years. Curry and Lee certainly aren’t known for their defensive ability, and neither has displayed any propensity towards improving in that area. Thompson has the size to guard his position, but needs to work harder in order to limit his opponent’s effectiveness. Barnes is a major question mark right now, but has upside to become one of the better defenders on the roster.

    Speaking of Jackson, he was a highly questionable hire last year and didn’t do much to alleviate concerns about his ability to run a team. While he can hide behind the fact that his franchise was openly tanking to get a lottery pick by the end of last season, he’s going to be on the hot seat in 2012-13

    If he’s the right man to lead the Warriors, it’ll become clear sooner than later. 

Storylines to Watch

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    Every Warriors fan is only focused on one goal—the playoffs. This franchise hasn’t been to the postseason since the epic 2007 run, when the No. 8 seeded Dubs knocked out the Dallas Mavericks in the first round.

    Now they have the pieces in place to make a legitimate push for a winning regular season and playoff seed in the West. Whether or not they are able to accomplish that goal is a whole different story, but it’s the No. 1 thing to watch for concerning Bay Area basketball.

    Health is another major concern with the Warriors, as Curry’s glass ankle has been a consistent problem. Add Bogut and his troubled ankle into the equation and there are now two starters who could go down at a moment's notice. Fans of the Warriors will be praying that they can finally have some good fortune and avoid the injury bug during this critical campaign.

    It’s also worth watching the rookies on the roster and how they develop, as that is likely to have a major impact on how far this team can go. If Barnes turns out to be a Rookie of the Year candidate and lives up to his potential, the W’s could legitimately be a contender within a few seasons. Ezeli has a chance to be a great big, and Green is a wild card who could fall somewhere between an absolute steal at No. 35 or a run-of-the-mill second-rounder. 

Best-Case Scenario

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    The W’s best-case scenario all starts with staying healthy. The team needs 70-plus games out of Curry and Bogut, plus the rest of the key contributors to be on the court for a majority of the team’s contests.

    If that happens, the Warriors will easily win over 42 games, which is a number that should definitely propel them close to the postseason.

    Anything more than that will stem from Marc Jackson’s acumen as a coach and the development of the younger players on the roster.

    There are a lot of wins to be mined out of good performances from Barnes, Ezeli and Green, especially if Curry and Bogut are living up to expectations.

    If all these pieces fall into place, there will be playoff basketball in Oakland. 

Worst-Case Scenario

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    It frightens Dubs’ fans to think about, but Curry is already dealing with ankle problems in the preseason and is sitting out as a precaution. It’s certainly not a good sign of things to come, and losing their franchise point guard for another extended stretch will signal the demise of the season.

    Jackson could also turn out to be the coach that many detractors believe he is—lazy, confused and outwitted. If that happens, there is a chance that rotations are botched, more close games turn into losses and things generally hit the fan that aren’t supposed to.

    Basically, the team’s hopes are resting on Curry’s fragile ankle and a second-year head coach who has no experience at any level. We told you it was scary. 

Season Prediction

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    46-36, third place in Pacific Division, No. 6 seed in West

    That’s right, we truly believe that Oracle Arena will host a playoff basketball game—with the Golden State Warriors involved, mind you—this coming spring.

    Call it crazy, call it fantastic, call it whatever you want, but this exciting Dubs team has all the right pieces in place to make a run through the West and win a bunch of games.

    As long as Curry and Bogut are on the floor, this is a great core and the starting lineup—plus key reserves—have what it takes to put up a fight with any other team in the league.

    Obviously, it’s a bit of a stretch to assume that those two won’t be sidelined long, if at all, but eventually this franchise has to get lucky.

    Why not now? Why not 2012-13?

    Unfortunately, it’ll be a short-lived celebration, as the W’s will likely be eliminated by the Los Angeles Clippers or another superior team in the first round. However, after five straight seasons of missing the postseason, it’s going to be refreshing to see this franchise back in the dance.

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