Bold Steps Golden State Warriors Must Take to Win a Championship
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The Golden State Warriors showed a lot of promise in their 2013 playoff run, but the team still must take some bold steps to become a true championship contender.
The Warriors have no doubt improved the roster with the addition of Andre Iguodala and the departure of both Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson. However, the Dubs are still chasing compared to the talent of the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers.
The Warriors have a young roster that is ascending similar to the foundation that the Houston Rockets put in place with James Harden, Dwight Howard and Jeremy Lin. The Warriors will be a far better team this upcoming season, but ESPN ranked them in the same spot they finished last year.
I don’t believe the team can make it to the NBA Finals this season with the current roster. The team can take baby steps and lay the groundwork to become a championship contender.
Steph Curry is a burgeoning superstar, and Andrew Bogut is playing in a contract year, but Harrison Barnes is moving to sixth man, and the team is without a true backup point guard.
The adjustments will be made, and the team will legitimately contend for its first Pacific Division crown since the 1975-76 season. Now, let’s take a look at the necessary steps that can help the Dubs win a championship.
Develop a Backup Point Guard
Jarrett Jack was a key find last year, as he took the role of sixth man and backup point guard. He was also a fixture in the final minutes when the game really mattered.
The Warriors then went out and signed veteran back-up point guard, Toney Douglas and added Nemanja Nedovic in the draft. Kent Bazemore returns for a second season with the team, and Steph’s brother, Seth Curry, looks like he will be around for training camp.
The biggest reasons for the required development are to backup Steph Curry if he suffers any kind of injury and to let Steph move over to the 2-guard position where he had success at points last season.
Andre Iguodala can fill in at the position, but the Warriors want to maximize his talents at his normal positions. The team also requires someone to handle the ball when Curry gets his eight minutes of rest per night.
Douglas can handle the point, but he has had problems shooting the ball by only posting 40 percent from the field and less than 38 percent from behind the arc. He can play defense, but he needs to round out his offensive problems to become effective.
Bazemore has really put a lot of effort into transforming his game from a defensive stopper to leading the Summer League team in Las Vegas. He has become a lot more comfortable handling the ball, but he still has a lot of room to develop.
Finally, Nedovic was scouted in Europe by the entire Warriors’ front office staff at the 2013 adidas Eurocamp. He has been referred to as the “European Derrick Rose”, and he could cultivate those talents and progress into a Sarunas Marciulionis-type of a player.
The talent is good, but the Warriors need to make sure they have a reliable player to fill that spot when needed. If the Warriors consistently give up leads when Curry is on the bench, then the team cannot progress.
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
The Golden State Warriors have transitioned from the perennial lottery-pick team to one that will be picking later and later in the first round in the upcoming years. They need to follow some of the same strategies as the San Antonio Spurs, who seem to keep getting older but find ways to reinvent themselves via the draft.
The Warriors used some of that strategy this year by scouting and drafting highly-rated European prospect, Nemanja Nedovic. He will see his first NBA action during training camp and hope is that he transforms into a player similar to Manu Ginobili.
The front office is one of the key strengths of the Warriors, and they have some of the better decision-makers in the NBA. They need to keep their scouting staff employed worldwide to find the diamonds in the rough that can improve the team on a yearly basis.
The team can also package together picks with players, if they see a player who looks to be part of the future foundation. Successful teams usually get rid of a player when he still can contribute rather than waiting a year too late.
The successful track record of the new ownership makes the future look bright compared to the draft choices made under the Chris Cohan ownership.
Sign the Right Free Agent
The Warriors made a big push to sign Dwight Howard this summer, and along the way to marketing themselves, they pulled off an even better free-agent snag.
Although he has not played in a game yet for the Dubs, Andre Iguodala is the necessary piece the Warriors have been missing. He is a playmaker and a premier defender.
Going forward, the Warriors will be a legitimate free-agent destination, even if the new arena does not get built on time. Even with the new salary-cap restrictions, the Dubs should have their choice of which player they can pry from other teams.
Instead of getting the biggest name to increase national presence, Warriors management can now be selective and pick the best player to fill the biggest hole. The young roster is very deep with potential and General Manager Bob Myers should know who to keep at the end of the recent initial contracts.
The addition of the right player, who can fit into the Warriors system fluidly, will give the team more ammunition to get to the NBA Finals and eventually win a title.
Learn How to Play Quality Defense
Everybody has heard the saying that defense wins championships. It is true, and the Warriors look to jump to the next plateau with the addition of premier defender Andre Iguodala.
The team already has monster Andrew Bogut, but he has been hurt and only showed glimpses of his game-changing ability in the playoffs. Klay Thompson has emerged as a lockdown defender, and he should improve again this season with his height and wingspan.
Lee will have a lot of help this season, as he is flanked by Bogut at the center position and Iggy at the 3 position. However, Lee really needs to put the effort in and at least learn how to marginally increase his defensive abilities.
Steph Curry is an average defender, but with his new found notoriety, he is committed to become an elite point guard on both sides of the ball. He feels that he can be a more consistent and better defender from the tip to the final buzzer.
If both Lee and Curry can steadfastly improve on the defensive side of the ball, this team will be able to consistently make the late-game crucial stop. Those stops translate into wins, whether it is during the regular season or when it counts in the playoffs.
Klay Thompson Must Develop His Game
Klay Thompson put himself on the map with a dominating Game 2 performance against the San Antonio Spurs. He converted nearly every opportunity for a basket and came away with a career-high 34 points and corralled 14 rebounds.
Everything was looking up in the series, as the Warriors finally won their first game in San Antonio this century. However, Klay pulled a disappearing act, as he was not consistent and somewhat ghostly during the remainder of the series.
Klay improved a lot during his second NBA season, but there is still a lot of room to grow for the former 11th draft pick of the 2011 NBA draft. He is a deadly shooter from anywhere on the floor, but he needs to start making moves when he has the ball.
Klay spent time during the past two summers with the USA National Team and has improved the fundamentals of his game. He has significantly enhanced his defensive abilities and is better moving without the ball.
The part that has not kicked in yet is when he makes moves to the basket. He can dribble drive, but the end result is mostly “Klay-ups”, where he drives to the rim and bricks the ball off the backboard.
If he can keep more control before getting off his shot, he can convert those opportunities. By making those shots, defenders will give him more space, because they would be worried that he might penetrate to the hoop.
Klay ranked last in free-throw attempts at the 2 position with only 1.9 per game. If he can add the dimension of driving successfully to the basket, he will increase his attempts and give the Warriors another solid tool to beat opponents.