Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry will be huge throughout the upcoming season.
The Golden State Warriors have made the meteoric rise from a promising young playoff squad to a legit contender in the blink of an eye. And while winning the West will definitely be a challenging task, winning the Pacific Division is a goal the Warriors have a great chance at accomplishing.
With the Los Angeles Lakers getting up in age and the Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns destined for the NBA draft lottery for the foreseeable future, it is safe to assume that the Pacific Division will be a race between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Warriors.
Although the Clippers have made a number of moves to fortify their squad for the upcoming regular season, the Warriors have a few components that give them the advantage.
Thus, let's examine why the Warriors will win the 2013-14 Pacific Division crown.
Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson are quickly becoming forces in the NBA.
The Warriors boast a number of young players who are capable of having a major impact in games. Klay Thompson has quickly become one of the most vicious shooters in the game. Last season, the 23-year-old drained 2.6 three-pointers a game.
Second-year players Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green were constant fixtures in head coach Mark Jackson’s rotation throughout the regular season and the playoffs. During the postseason, Barnes averaged 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds on 44.4 percent shooting from the field.
Previously known solely for his sideline celebrations, unheralded shooting guard Kent Bazemore put forth dazzling performances during the 2013 NBA Summer League, all the while showing why he will be a key contributor off the bench for the Warriors going forward.
Although the Clippers’ Blake Griffin, Darren Collison and DeAndre Jordan are young and experienced, the rest of the Clippers’ players under the age of 25 lack NBA experience.
Hence, having a number of young players who can step up at any moment will be huge for the Warriors in their quest for the division crown.
Following a first-round defeat to the Warriors, Iguodala will now be joining Steph Curry in Golden State.
Everything changed in an instant when Andre Iguodala agreed to a four-year, $48 million deal with the Warriors this summer.
The Warriors' style of play is a perfect match for Iguodala. He thrives in the full court and looks for every opportunity to get out in transition, which are two things that Mark Jackson and the crew love to do.
Bringing Iggy into the fold will without question help the Warriors defensively. Per 82games.com, Iguodala held opposing small forwards to a PER of 9.9 per 48 minutes last season.
Moreover, the offense will benefit from his pass-first mentality, which will lead to an abundance of looks from the perimeter for Barnes, Thompson and Stephen Curry.
Warriors' tandem of Lee and Bogut gives the team added strength and height in the interior area.
Possessing a front line that features David Lee and Andrew Bogut, the Warriors are equipped to punish teams down low in the interior when need be.
On the offensive end, David Lee is one of the most skilled big men in the game, period. He can go to work in the post, has a reliable 15-foot jump shot and can create scoring opportunities for those around him. Last season, Lee averaged 18.5 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists on 51.4 percent shooting from the field.
While one certainly would not expect to see Andrew Bogut receive the ball in the last two minutes of a game, he does play well off the ball rolling to the basket and utilizing his height advantage underneath the rim for easy buckets.
However, the area where the two have the biggest impact is on the glass. Last season, Bogut and Lee grabbed a combined 22.2 rebounds per 36 minutes, compared to 19.8 rebounds per 36 minutes averaged by the Clippers’ Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
Although there is not a large disparity between the aforementioned statistics, it does put in perspective how dominant Bogut and Lee were in that category.
Whether he's shooting, facilitating or defending, Stephen Curry can make great things happen.
Curry can single-handedly keep the Warriors in any game, as well as separate them from the competition in a matter of seconds.
Remember the series of surreal performances he strung together throughout the 2013 playoffs?
While the Clippers have shooters in J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford who can fill it up quickly, Curry has shown that no one—and I mean no one—can come close to what he can do.
Sure the Clippers have the glitz and glamour of L.A., but there is nothing they have that comes close to the fans of the Bay Area.
In sports, no pep talk from a coach or any energy drink can fuel a team like the screams from fans echoing throughout the vicinity. And in the Bay Area, they may have the best set of them that you will ever see.
When the Warriors defeated the then-defending Western Conference champion Dallas Mavericks in the first round back in 2007, is it not true that without the energy and vivaciousness of the fans the result would have been different?
Likewise, their support energized the team throughout the 2013 regular season, helping it win 28 home games. During the 2013 playoffs, the Warriors won four out of six games played at home.
Of all the factors that will prove to be instrumental in the Warriors' journey toward the Pacific Division crown, the fans will, once again, prove to be the vehicle that drives the Warriors to success.