5 Questions the Golden State Warriors Need Answered During the Preseason

Martin Telleria@martintelleriaSenior Analyst IIIOctober 15, 2014

5 Questions the Golden State Warriors Need Answered During the Preseason

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    Can Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry lead the Warriors to a title?
    Can Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry lead the Warriors to a title?Associated Press

    The NBA preseason has officially begun, and along with it comes a great deal of questions that need answering. The Golden State Warriors will have a new coach this season, Steve Kerr, and with him comes a brand new offensive scheme.

    How the Warriors adapt to this new system will be the biggest question. Having talent is one thing; putting it all together is the real challenge.

    Players like Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry will have bigger roles to fill. Some roles are still yet to be determined. It's a fresh start for the Warriors, but they're fortunate enough to have the services of multiple rising stars.

    With several preseason games already behind us, we've seen shades of where this team could ultimately go. They're far from a finished product, but with every passing game, they'll get closer.

    Let's take a look at five questions the Warriors must answer before the season starts. 

5. What is Harrison Barnes’ role off the bench?

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    Can Harrison Barnes be the player the Warriors drafted him to be?
    Can Harrison Barnes be the player the Warriors drafted him to be?Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    In what can only be described as a disaster of a season, Barnes failed to reach the lofty expectations placed on him last year. With averages of just 9.5 points on under 40 percent shooting from the field and a mere 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game, it was disappointing to say the least.

    Barnes is looking to flip the script this season, though, and early returns from preseason action have been promising. Barnes has knocked down 50 percent of his shots throughout the preseason thus far and cracked double-digit scoring in two of three games.

    His lone single-digit scoring outing came in a rare start, experimentation by Kerr to be sure, and it also doubled as Barnes' most complete game of the young season. Tallying eight points in 22 minutes of action against the rival Los Angeles Clippers, Barnes also added three rebounds, one assist, two steals and two blocks.

    The talent for Barnes to be a special player has always been there, occasionally manifesting itself in games like this. If he wants to stick around, however, he will need to become the consistent scoring threat off the bench the Warriors thought they would have last season.

    What has become more and more clear over the years is that Barnes is far more comfortable as part of the starting lineup. As the focal point of the second unit, he falters when teams key in on him. In the starting lineup, though, open looks are plentiful.

    Kerr has already said he would consider bringing Andre Iguodala off the bench if needed. Regardless of what happens, the play of Barnes will be worth monitoring for the duration of the preseason. 

4. Can Klay Thompson Help Shoulder the Scoring Load?

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    Klay Thompson continues to add to his offensive repertoire.
    Klay Thompson continues to add to his offensive repertoire.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Owners such as Mark Cuban dread the idea of sending their highest-paid players overseas for international competition. The devastating Paul George injury only served to further that idea. With no guarantee about the safety of their players, the owners are the ones who lose if anything happens.

    Then there are cases like Thompson's, and all of a sudden, international basketball looks better and better.

    The Warriors management showed a lot of faith in Thompson this summer, essentially choosing him over Kevin Love. Thompson responded with an electrifying performance in the FIBA Basketball World Cup, at times not only outplaying Curry, but the entire roster as well.

    This has continued into the preseason, where Thompson has been a scoring machine. After putting on a clinic against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant summed up what the world found out this summer, courtesy of Diamond Leung of the San Jose Mercury News:

    "He has the whole package."

    Curry has established himself as one of the elite stars in the Association, but if Thompson keeps raising his level of play, he'll give the Warriors one of the best one-two punches in the league.

    After dropping 20, 25 and 16 points in the first three preseason games, one thing is clear: This offense will be a whole lot more than just Curry this season. Curry will be the engine that makes it go, but Klay will be the one to charge it into overdrive. 

3. Has Stephen Curry Remedied His Turnover Issues?

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    Stephen Curry must limit his turnovers.
    Stephen Curry must limit his turnovers.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Curry is without a doubt one of the most prolific and electrifying stars in the world today, but his game has always come with a price: turnovers.

    Curry's 8.5 assists per game last season were spectacular, good for the sixth-highest mark in the league. The problem was that nearly half of those were negated by his 3.8 turnovers per game, which led to an assist-to-turnover ratio of just 2.27, a number which ranked just 37th in the league.

    That's below such luminaries like Louis Williams, Raymond Felton and J.J. Barea.

    With the ball in his hands so often, however, turnovers will be inevitable. With a usage rate of 28.29 percent last season, Curry ranked ninth in the NBA in that regard and first among all point guards.

    Curry has coughed up the ball three times in all three preseason games, and that would be a considerable improvement over last season should that hold up over the course of the year. With Thompson and Iguodala both expected to take on bigger roles in the offense, Curry’s usage rate should take a much-needed dip.

    Furthermore, with Kerr bringing in his own version of the triangle offense, the pressure of always needing to create for others will greatly diminish.

    If that is the case, it is very likely that Curry can slash his extraordinarily high turnover mark by a significant margin. 

2. What Will the Warriors Do at the Backup Center Spot?

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    Who will step up to back up Andrew Bogut?
    Who will step up to back up Andrew Bogut?Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    Andrew Bogut, to the surprise of nobody, is playing like a beast at the beginning of the preseason. This is excellent news for the Warriors, especially considering the fact that Ognjen Kuzmic is currently the only other healthy center on the roster.

    While Kuzmic has played reasonably well in limited minutes, it's fairly certain that he does not project to be a key part in the rotation. Those minutes will surely go to Festus Ezeli, who missed all of last season after knee surgery and who is currently sidelined with a shin injury.

    Fortunately for the Warriors, the injury does not appear to be serious, and Ezeli expects to be ready by the season opener. This is excellent news for the Warriors. With Jermaine O'Neal gone and Bogut always a breeze away from an injury, a healthy Ezeli will be vital to success.

    For the time being, all the Warriors can do is monitor the success of various small-ball lineups and the progression of Kuzmic. 

1. Will Steve Kerr’s Offense Flourish?

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    Can Steve Kerr upgrade the Warriors offense?
    Can Steve Kerr upgrade the Warriors offense?Noah Graham/Getty Images

    Despite the illusion that the Warriors are an offensive juggernaut, the facts last year said differently. The Warriors finished merely 10th among all Western Conference teams in points per game, scoring only 104.3. It was the defense that became their calling card.

    Much of this had to do with the lack of vision in Mark Jackson’s offense, an attack that focused primarily on isolation attacks and exploiting bad matchups. This will not be the case under Kerr, who promises to introduce aspects of the legendary triangle offense with a few tweaks of his own, courtesy of Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News:

    It will be influenced by the Triangle but it will not look like the Bulls of the ’90s, I can tell you that.

    The game has changed and I think my philosophy would reflect that. For instance, I would be crazy to do away with screen and roll with Steph–he’s devastating in it. We’ll do plenty of that.

    But we have the opportunity to make some strides offensively and I think that will be reflected in my influences–which have been Popovich and Phil and Lenny Wilkens…

    They’ve all been coaches who emphasized ball movement, spacing and flow and having a system to rely on and that’s what i’m looking to give.

    So far, it’s been working. With scores of 112, 120 and 116 in their first three games, the Warriors' offense looks to be as good as ever. Sure, two of those games came against the old and depleted Lakers, but the ball movement they’ve displayed will work against anyone.

    The Warriors had the tools to be an elite offense last year but not the mind to get them to the top. Based on the small preseason sample size, they finally have the coach that can put it all together. 

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