Creating the Perfect Offseason Plan for the Golden State Warriors
The NBA Summer League, free agency and training camp are all plot points on a map toward another season filled with elevated expectations and a roster built to contend.
However, before that happens, there are issues with salary, injuries and the development of players that we'll have to keep an eye on.
It all starts at the top with general manager Bob Myers and consultant Jerry West. They've drafted Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Festus Ezeli and picked up Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack in two years.
Not too shabby.
What will they have in store this offseason?
Get Brandon Rush Back Healthy
A healthy Brandon Rush presents the Warriors with another wing player who can shoot threes and defend. He experienced a breakout year in 2012, shooting over 45 percent from three and playing the kind of perimeter defense the Dubs have been missing for years.
To have him, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green on the wings lets the Warriors switch and defend the way the Nuggets can. That kind of depth is rare in a league that now craves shooters and lanky defenders.
The problem? ACL injuries are unpredictable—just ask Derrick Rose. The Warriors are now known (thanks to Bogut) to keep their injuries in the dark, and if Rush can't return early, he shouldn't (ahem) rush back.
Having him healthy for the stretch run will be crucial for the team and him—Rush is in the last year of his contract.
Get Andrew Bogut Back Healthy
As we enter year two of the Andrew Bogut ankle watch, things have considerably cleared up a bit. Last season, we had no idea whether Bogut would ever come back 100 percent.
This year, we know what he can do when he isn't 100 or even 80 percent, and that's more than anything the Warriors have got in some time. Saying that, if he does come back at 90 percent of the player he once was, the Dubs are instantly transformed into a Western Conference contender.
Without moped accidents (Monta Ellis) or an eating problem (Baron Davis)—keep in mind that he gave up drinking so his ankle wouldn't swell up—there's a chance he could come back relatively healthy.
Along with Brandon Rush, this is the biggest offseason issue: injuries.
Re-Sign Jarrett Jack, Not Carl Landry
Jarrett Jack is an unrestricted free agent and Landry has a player option for next season. Although Jack's salary might rise a bit, it's Landry's numbers that might fluctuate.
He didn't get any takers last year and finally settled on a deal with the Warriors. The same might happen this offseason, and he could be content just taking the $4 million he'd be owed.
Jack, on the other hand, is invaluable to the team despite the problems with shot selection and increased dribbling when the shot clock wore down. With Curry's ankles presumably a problem for the rest of his career, the Warriors need the ball-handling and insurance off the bench.
Veteran presence is an overrated trope, but Jack's ability to lead and will the team to victories when the rest of the Dubs start sluggish is essential.
Continued Growth of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes
The team's core players are all under the age of 26, with Barnes at 20, Thompson at 23 and Curry bringing up the rear at 25. The potential is high for the two sharpshooters in the backcourt, but the highest upside belongs to the young star from North Carolina.
Much ballyhooed and perhaps a bit underrated after being severely overrated in college, he exploded in the postseason, joining Tim Duncan and Magic Johnson as players who scored over 20 points in multiple games.
To take the proverbial next step, Thompson will need to become a better ball-handler and dribbler, Curry a better defender and, most importantly, Barnes will need to become the scorer he is capable of being.
The Warriors rarely ran any plays for him, only 6.6 percent of his plays were off pick-and-rolls, according to Synergy, and if they reversed this trend, the offense could take off.
Take the Denver Nuggets series for example: When Lee was out, Barnes exploded with more shots and more spacing. The future is now, and with the continued developments of their young stars, the Warriors are on their way to becoming the next Oklahoma City Thunder.
Identify Developmental Players
Picking up players like Stephen Curry and Harrison Barnes may seem like no-brainers, but the late draft picks of Draymond Green, Festus Ezeli and the pickups of Kent Bazemore and Scott Machado speak to the ability of the team to identify talent when it isn't obvious.
The Santa Cruz Warriors made it to the championship round, and while that doesn't necessarily mean automatic diamond-in-the-rough players like Gilbert Arenas and Monta Ellis will appear, it does mean the team can develop players at a decent clip.
Gone are the days of Ike Diogu and Patrick O'Bryant, while perhaps one day Jeremy Tyler will make an impact. To continue this trend, the Warriors will have to look for players at the end of the draft—they do not own a single draft pick this year.
Nate Wolters, Shane Larkin and Ryan Kelly are among many second-round to undrafted players the Warriors can move into the draft board to select. With the way this ownership group has managed the past two years, don't discount a gutsy move or their ability to identify talent.