Basketball is BACK, son. We dropped our predictions for the entire NBA on Tuesday. You can check those out here. Now, this is our preview for your beloved Warriors
Well, this is weird. Here we are at the start of another NBA season, and, for once, the Warriors have high expectations surrounding them this year.
I know, it’s still so very surreal for me, too. After all the years of losing and Garry St. Jean and Chri$ Cohan and all the Erick Dampier, the Mike Dunleavy, the Corey Maggette along the way and just the general basketball cesspool that most of the last 15 years or so were, Warriors fans are excited about their team. Like, mega-excited. Like, if-this-team-finishes-below-fifth-people-will-be-bummed-out excited.
Warriors fans have been excited about teams in the past, but that’s thanks in no small measure to the juggernaut that is the Warriors PR hype machine. Come see Vonteego Cummings, Chris Mills, and Jason Caffey get run up and down the court by Allen Iverson. By himself. With his arms tied behind his back. Warriors basketball: It’s a great time out!!! AND WE STILL WENT TO THE GAME. Nobody to blame but ourselves there.
This year the Pacific Division is shaping up to be like something out of a mid-2000s Bizarro Land, with the Clippers and Warriors projected to finish one-two and the Suns and Lakers probably finishing at or near the bottom. In my predictions for the NBA at large, I had the Clippers in the Finals, which I feel is creating a rift somewhere in the universe right now. It just feels so weird and awkward to have the Clippers and the NBA Finals used in such conjunction. It’s the Clippers!
And they’re owned by Donald Sterling, who is probably closer to the bottom than he is to the top of a list of people in the NBA who deserve a title. Donald Sterling is like the real-life caricature of a wealthy, egotistical, evil businessman-type you’d find on in the movies or on TV. Rich assholes who know they’re rich assholes even hate being lumped in the same stereotype with Donald Sterling. So, I feel like the basketball gods would much rather reward Mr. Not One Not Two Not Three than they would real-life Mr. Burns. There are, of course, more practical reasons why the Clippers are probably ill-suited for a title, like if Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan fail to develop into more multi-dimensional players or if Jamal Crawford in the playoffs plays like he thinks he’s Michael Jordan.
Tuesday night was supposed to be the debut of this vaunted Clippers squad, in a nationally televised game that was for some reason against the Lakers. It was supposed to be the first episode of the Lakers Comedy Hour, but that was preempted by the Clippers Comedy Hour. The Clippers on paper are deep, athletic, have one of the best coaches in the league and, most important of all, have Chris Paul as the floor general. They’ll be the Warriors toughest adversaries as they fight for position atop the division. But was their season debut bed-pooping Tuesday a bad omen whats to come this season, or was it just an instance of getting caught off guard by a Lakers team who might need to be under serious Dwight Howard/Ewing Theory watch? I’m leaning towards the latter. A good measuring stick comes Tuesday when the Clippers will host the Warriors. So there’s something to look forward to after you throw a temper tantrum over how many houses gave you Almond Joy rather than good candy.
As for the Warriors, I honestly have no clue what to expect from Team GSW this season. Playoffs, yeah. But where in the playoffs? The West is SO deep. AGAIN. I can see the Warriors finishing anywhere between first and sixth. But that depends on so many factors. What if Stephen Curry’s ankle becomes self-aware and starts attacking the rest of his body? Or what if Bogut’s femur shatters into a million bits when he steps off the team bus one game? What if these bench woes that have become evident in the last couple of preseason games actually become a thing? WHAT IF BRIAN SCALABRINE ISNT THE G.O.A.T. OF ASSISTANT COACHES?
This team should be one of the top teams in the West. Should! But I feel like the Warriors are one giant house of cards, and if one thing goes even slightly awry, then the whole thing is going to go to shit.
There’s also this kinda-huge-but-maybe-not-really issue of Mark Jackson no longer having Mike Malone on his coaching staff. Malone was brought on shortly after Jackson was hired and was something of a chief of staff to Jackson, who had as much coaching experience on any level as any of the hot dog vendors at Oracle. Over the last couple seasons, Jackson gained a reputation of being a brilliant motivator, while Malone was probably in control of most of the Xs and Os. The training wheels are off with Malone now assuming head coaching and DeMarcus Cousins babysitting duties in Sacramento. How Jackson handles coaching this team without his two-year chief adviser by his side will be something to watch. (For those wondering, Pete Myers takes over the primary assistant under Jackson.)
Already, Jackson’s first major decision of the year is a bit of a SMH-er: starting Klay Thompson over Harrison Barnes. One of the top storylines this Warriors preseason was the one surrounding who between Thompson and Barnes would start. Thompson was going to begin the season as the starter regardless with Barnes still dealing with that mysterious inflamed foot (just a hunch, but maybe the players could start wearing sandals in the showers—oh, and also maybe stop peeing in the showers, too. Yeah, definitely stop peeing in the showers). But Jackson announced Tuesday KT will remain in that position and Barnes will come off the bench as the sixth man when he returns to the lineup. Thompson was his usual scoring-in-bunches self this preseason, while Barnes, in his limited action before being sidelined, left a lot to be desired returning to the court after his breakout showing in the playoffs last season.
It’s important to highlight that the Warriors bench at times has also struggled to produce offensively at times this postseason. So wouldn’t it make sense to put a guy capable of packing a big offensive punch in the position of leading a sagging second unit so that the production drop after the starters exit isn’t so wide? I mean, Stephen Currys still out there playing like he’s on NBA2k14 rookie mode. David Lee is gonna get his. Iguodala will facilitate his teammates. You can afford to have a slumping guy out there with those players. I feel like putting Klay in the starting lineup is like firing all your bullets in the first 10-to-12 minutes.
I could be wrong. Barnes could return back to health and pick up right where he left off in the postseason, continuing to elevate his game, and thrive in his new role. Jackson could also find a rotation that provides the optimal balance of production and rest for the starting five. Who knows, maybe Curry, Thompson and Lee will just score enough points at the start of the game where the reserves can just go out and get coffee while the starters catch their breath.
Anyway, thats enough from me. I leave you now with some sage advice from this weeks Sports Illustrated cover story on Curry and Thompson. It comes courtesy of Klays dad Mychal, who, in addition to that tremendous allowance story about his son earlier this year, seems like hes the greatest:
Mychal, who became a radio broadcaster with the Lakers, preferred to focus on life lessons: Always show up early, cherish each opportunity, and never meet your girlfriend in a nightclub.
Enjoy the season, kiddos.