Something exciting is happening in the Bay Area. Beyond complaints about the Seahawk's 12th man. The Golden State Warriors are arguably the most exciting team to watch in the NBA on a nightly basis. They feature the most dangerous scoring backcourt in all of the league, one of the best, if not the best wing defender, a power forward that can go for 20 points and 20 rebounds on any given night and when healthy, arguably one of the five best pure centers in all of the NBA.
For the first time since Rick Barry or Wilt Chamberlain put on the Warrior uniform there are extremely high expectations for this team. Championship expectations might be a little too much at this point, but home court in the first round should not be ruled out.
Head Coach: Usually former players do not make the greatest coaches see Thomas, Isiah and Rambis, Kurt as recent examples. In 2011 the Warriors decided to roll the dice on Mark Jackson, a former point guard, former All-Star and 1988 Rookie of the Year, as their head coach.
Up until 2011 Jackson had yet to coach in the NBA in any form. After retiring from the NBA after the 2004 season Jackson went straight to the analyst booth, spending the first couple years working with the legendary Marv Albert before being picked up by ABC/ESPN.
The Warriors were 23-43 in his first year, but the team couldn't stay healthy and had a hard time adjusting to a new system that required taking smarter shots and playing tougher defense.
In his second season, sans Monta Ellis, the Warriors improved to 47-35 under Jackson, made the playoffs as a sixth seed and upset the third seeded Denver Nuggets.
Joining Jackson on the bench this season as assistants will be Brian Scalabrine, Pete Myers, Jerry DeGregorio, Darren Erman and Kris Weems.
Last Season's Record: 47-35
Player Losses: The Warriors lost Jarrett Jack to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Carl Landry to the Sacramento Kings in free agency. Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush were sent to the Utah Jazz along with four picks and cash in a three team trade that also included the Nuggets.
Player Additions: The Warriors drafted shifty point guard, Nemanja Nedovic from Yugoslavia with their only pick in the 2012 draft. Toney Douglas was signed away from the Sacramento Kings, Jermaine O'Neal was signed away from the Phoenix Suns and Marreese Speights was signed away from the Cavs in free agency. The Warriors received Kevin Murphy (waived 14 days after the trade) and Andre Iguodala in the trade with the Jazz and Nuggets.
Best Player: Stephen Curry is one of those players that qualifies as a "must watch" in the NBA. He has the smoothest, most pure shooting stroke I think I have ever seen. Every one of his jumpers always has a chance to go in. Curry is a very, very special player and when he's healthy and he's on the Warriors are unbeatable.
Worst Player: The milder Curry takes the award on this one. Seth Curry, Stephen's little brother, was signed as an undrafted free agent in the offseason to a non-guaranteed contract.
Player due to breakthrough: With his performance in the playoffs the obvious choice would be Harrison Barnes. In only his second year, he's not really due for a breakout year, he's expected to grow, continue his development and be one of the front-runners for the Sixth Man of the Year award.
Instead we have to look at the number one overall pick in the 2005 draft, Andrew Bogut.
Bogut comes into this season 100% healthy, 20 pounds lighter (best shape of his life alert) and a humungous chip on his shoulder. Like many centers taken number one overall he's been labeled a bust, not due to any fault of his own, but due to injury. A healthy Bogut is a scary thought on this team. A healthy Bogut with something to prove... makes this Warriors team deadly.
The Starters: Steph Curry is your starter at point guard and flanked by former Washington State star, Klay Thompson, at shooting guard. Andre Iguodala will be taking over at small forward this year, a points and rebound machine David Lee, will be at power forward with Andrew Bogut anchoring the middle.
The Bench: Harrison Barnes should be the first guy off the bench every night. Toney Douglas should make it out of training camp as the back-up point guard, with Speights, O'Neal and Draymond Green taking most of the reserve minutes in the front court.
Random Seattle Connection: The "White Mamba" Brian Scalabrine is an assistant coach on Jackson's staff. Scalabrine is from Enumclaw and attended Highline Community College in Des Moines, WA before transferring to the University of Southern California.
Best Case Scenario for the Season: Dwight Howard and the Rockets fall apart, Russell Westbrook doesn't fully recover from his knee injury, for some reason Kevin Durant regresses and the Spurs finally show their age. The Warriors take advantage of this, nab the number two seed in the West and shock the Clippers in seven games in the Western Conference Finals before losing to the Heat in the Finals.
Worst Case Scenario for the Season: Curry and Bogut's ankles can't hold up and both miss fifty plus games, Barnes feels he should start and demands to be traded, things go back to "normal" in Oakland with the Warriors once again planning on drafting in the lottery in June.
Most Likely Scenario for the Season: The Warriors assert themselves as one of the elite teams in the West early and the Bay Area enjoys some of the best basketball they've seen since 1975. Steph Curry emerges as a serious contender for MVP, Thompson improves his shooting percentage and scoring, Barnes wins Sixth Man of the Year and the Warriors officially replace OKC as the new "it" team in the league.
Prediction: Chemistry is going to carry the Warriors far. They improved their starting lineup and added to their depth. They are going to miss the late game heroics of Jarrett Jack, but are so deep on the bench they can replace his production. In saying that; the Warriors have the potential to finish as the second seed, but the with the West being so talented and strong it's entirely plausible that the Warriors could once again finish sixth. I think they finish somewhere in the middle, take the fourth seed and make the Western Conference Finals.
Check out Golden State of Mind for their preview!
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Golden State Warriors: Golden State of Mind
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Sacramento Kings:†Sactown Royalty |†Baller Mind Frame
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