Revisiting Preseason Predictions for the Golden State Warriors
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Since they've already clinched a playoff spot and are playing for seedings at this juncture of the season, there's a bit of downtime to look back at preseason expert prognostications.
Most people generally throw a quote on experts and discredit them because of their low success rate in guessing who is going to win, lose or play well.
However, I'd argue that all experts understand and watch a ton of basketball, this being their job. We focus on the results instead of understanding why and how they got there.
So even if their picks do sound outrageously wrong, I'm not criticizing the writer but only the implications of their selections. The process is sound.
Since every sports website, blog and podcast throws out predictions like Lil' B does with mixtapes, I'll selectively handpick a few that directly correlate with the biggest Warriors' storylines.
Since most salient previews of the Warriors don't focus on the additions of Jarrett Jack or Carl Landry, we'll focus on the three most talked-about aspects of the team this year and what people have said about it in the preseason.
Grantland's Zach Lowe talks about the Warriors' entertainment value and prediction with Andrew Bogut.
Lowe wasn't necessarily right or wrong because Bogut has been in and out of the lineup, riding a balancing act with his back and ankle. When he's been on the court, he's made an impact on the defensive end of the ball, as anyone can attest to.
However, the dream that Lowe had with the big-men passing between David Lee and Bogut didn't get a chance to work out. Meanwhile, Bogut just went down with an ankle bone bruise and therein lies the problem.
They don't have much chemistry and Bogut hasn't shot much or done anything on offense beside the occasional lefty hook-shot—which he somehow manages to repeatedly leave short.
Lowe didn't exactly predict that Bogut would stay healthy or the Warriors would make an impact but his assumption that Bogut would lift the team offensively and defensively into a dangerous team isn't accurate.
While Bogut's been good in spurts this season, he hasn't shown enough post-ankle surgery to think the Warriors will be anything but first-round fodder for opponents.
GM predictions on Klay Thompson.
The most popular breakout pick this season went to Klay Thompson, garnering 13.3 percent of the votes, narrowly edging out Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard.
Most of this stems from the fact that Thompson played so well when the rest of the team was hurt last season and he was the de facto offensive creator. Most people expected him to thrive with better spacing given by a healthy Stephen Curry.
While he hasn't broken out as expected (true shooting percentage of only 53 percent), he's played well in other phases of the game, namely defense. According to Synergy Sports, the Warriors are eighth in isolation defense.
Believe me, that's not David Lee or Stephen Curry carrying the load there.
Thompson has most notably shut down players like James Harden and Tony Parker, displaying the versatility that his length and deceptive quickness can provide.
He has also taken to creating off the dribble, giving us a glimpse of the next part of his game. Against a very bad Lakers defense, he was able to get into the lane and create for others. Thompson has also flashed a post-game against smaller defenders.
While the prediction isn't true, it isn't all wrong either.
Now for the granddaddy of predictions: the season outlooks by the most popular writers on the Internet. Lowe hedged his bet and predicted that the Warriors would be fighting for the last spot along with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Dallas Mavericks.
The Warriors have somehow been luckier in the injury department and the injuries to Kevin Love and Dirk Nowtizki were too much to overcome.
Ben Golliver and Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated picked the Warriors as the best non-playoff team in the Western Conference. The Ball Don't Lie staff also predicted a non-playoff record of 37-45, citing injury concerns as the sole reason.
Perhaps the storyline that has run rampant through every game and play has been the injuries. From Curry's surprisingly low amount of ankle sprains, Bogut's battle with ankle and back pain, and Brandon Rush's torn ACL, the Warriors have persevered.
One could argue that the implosion of the Los Angeles Lakers and other injuries played a big role in their success, but keep in mind that the Houston Rockets have exceeded expectations as well.
The experts may not have predicted the playoffs for the Warriors, but it wasn't because of a dearth of talent.
Mark Jackson's ascension as a good coach has been surprising to see as well. Many fans were proclaiming some of the improvements to be that of assistant Mike Malone, but it's clear that Jackson's leadership qualities aren't anything to write off.
He has revamped the defense and offense and created a team that flourishes off of the three-point shot, creating space for everyone.
The saying goes, "you live by the three, you die by three". The Golden State Warriors have not only lived, but thrived by the three, along with a sprinkle of defense.
It is perhaps a bit ironic that experts predicted injuries would befall the Warriors, only to have it affect other Western Conference teams as well.
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