The 2012-13 Golden State Warriors’ season can be considered a complete success, but there are still areas that must be upgraded before the start of the 2013-14 season. If the Warriors want to continue this trend and not return to the dregs of the NBA, they will need to improve upon some key fundamentals.
Some of the key trends are a result of the regular season, and other more noticeable cleanups were evidenced in the playoffs. Turnovers have been a continuous problem that plagued the Warriors throughout the regular and post-season.
With all of the youth that the future is banking on, the Warriors need to develop some of their soon-to-be second-year players. All of the starting positions are covered, but the evolution of the young bench players solidifies the roster in case of injury or foul trouble.
The Warriors need to fix certain areas if they want to take the extra step in the 2013-14 NBA season and contend for a division or even an NBA title. Warriors fans have been very patient over the past 20 years, but now is the time they need to receive a little bit of equity for their loyalty.
The biggest problem for the Warriors is turning the ball over to the opposition. The team played careless at times, especially during crunch time when they needed the big basket.
The best example of their ability to give the ball away at will was against the Denver Nuggets in Game 6.
The Warriors were at the bottom of the NBA in the number of turnovers committed this season. They finished 28th in the league by committing 14.8 per game while they only earned 12.9 TOs.
Their two top ball handlers, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are guilty of handing the ball over the most. Steph finished the season ranked tied for 180th place in the NBA with former Warrior Monta Ellis by committing 3.1 turnovers per game.
Klay wasn’t quite as bad, but he didn’t control the ball with the frequency of a Curry. He turned the ball over an average of 1.9 times per game, ranking him 31st out of 37 shooting guards.
Yes, Curry has the ball in his hands more than most players, but he finished tied for 39th place out of 43 point guards. He needs to limit forcing the ball into situations and occasionally giving the ball away untouched.
The young up-and-coming guards are the examples, but the team needs to focus on taking better control of the ball and not rushing to get the ball out too quickly. Fancy passing engages the fans in the arena, but if the passes lead to turnovers, that could be a game-changer.
Development of the Youth
The young rookies were given great chances to develop during the season and even more opportunities in the postseason. Harrison Barnes established himself after an up-and-down season, Draymond Green contributed in a variety of ways at both forward spots and Kent Bazemore showed his athletic skills when he was not celebrating on the bench.
Center Festus Ezeli was given a huge promotion at the start of the regular season as he was given the task to fill in for the injured Andrew Bogut. He excelled by using his big body to capture rebounds and make an occasional block to put up a line of 2.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 0.95 BPG.
In this video, Ezeli shows how he contributed the most this season.
Ezeli's biggest problem is on the offensive end, as he primarily finishes when he has the ball by the rim. He shot 61.5 percent at the rim, but he had a dramatic drop-off from 3-9 feet, where he shot only 32.5 percent.
Ezeli needs to work hard this summer to develop a post move, so that he is not limited with the ball when he is more than three feet from the rim. A good post move will draw fouls and open up the court for the rest of the team, since defenses will have to concentrate more on him.
Bogut should be returning closer to his former self at the start of the next season, but if the Dubs could develop their backup center into a legitimate number two center, the team will be that much stronger.
Replacing Assistant Coaches
The Warriors have a lot of talent that surrounds Mark Jackson on the coaching staff. One of the biggest names to have been rumored to get the next coaching gig was assistant coach Mike Malone.
He had been an assistant coach with the New York Knicks (2003-05), Cleveland Cavaliers (2005-10) and New Orleans Hornets (2010-11) before joining the Golden State Warriors. His defensive philosophies proved effective as he was just recently hired as the head coach of the Sacramento Kings.
Under the assistance of Malone, the Warriors bought into the defensive culture change by making huge statistical jumps in production. The team finished third in the league in rebounding (first in defensive rebounding), from 28th place the prior season.
The team also majorly improved on limiting quality shots from opponents, as the Warriors held opponents to the fourth-worst field-goal percentage at 43.9 percent. Last season, the team allowed 45.3 percent shooting for 20th place.
More recently, CSN’s Ric Bucher tweeted out that the Warriors would have to replace more than one assistant coach.
General manager Bob Myers and coach Mark Jackson need to find quality talent that can fill the void of Mike Malone and whoever else leaves for a promotion. Assistant coach Pete Myers will probably fill Malone’s spot, but they need able minds that have a defensive focus.
Since the Summer League operations are already covered, the Warriors don’t need to be in a rush, but they need to ink the best candidate before he signs elsewhere. The Dubs have that exciting opportunity available for someone to join a staff that could produce many division titles.
Ability to Close Out
The Warriors gained crucial and necessary playoff experience this season, but when they needed to close out big wins, they looked like rookies. I understand the team is in an unfamiliar area, but as Warriors develop and seek the next plateau, they will need to learn how to close.
Two major examples of the Warriors ability to let games slip out of the jaws of victory occurred in the playoffs. The first was Game 6 against the Denver Nuggets, where they let an 18-point fourth quarter lead evaporate and hold on by the slimmest of margins.
That same trend continued to the next game, which was Game 1 in San Antonio, where the Warriors were trying to win their first game in the Alamo City since 1997. In this version, they gave away a 16-point lead with only 4:31 left to play in the game. The game went on to double OT before being crushed by this Manu Ginobili shot.
The playoffs are a different spectrum than the regular season, but the Warriors still need to mold Curry into the Kobe Bryant-like player in the closing minutes. Curry is very clutch with his beautiful shooting style, but he needs to show the league that he can deliver when it counts.
Yes, Bogut, David Lee, Barnes and Thompson have the ability to make clutch shots in crunch time. However, the Warriors need a go-to guy that can routinely stand up to the toughest of pressures.
The Warriors have the talent and are on course to build upon all of the successes experienced this season. If the Dubs can upgrade and improve upon the items laid out above, they have a realistic goal of winning division titles and eventually an NBA Championship.
This is a very exciting time in the Bay; hopefully, the Warriors can cash in on that equity.