The Golden State Warriors will enter the season with heavy expectations from a demanding culture, and for many reasons, it should be that way.
Given the transactions that have taken place in the last few months, the Golden State Warriors’ front office proved once again why they command respect in terms of maintaining a championship-level roster. For once, however, that very attribute could pan against the success of the reinvigorated depth chart. This will be a touch-and-go season for the Warriors, and spectators of the new-look group should be patient.
The front office spectacularly responded to Kevin Durant‘s exit by replacing him with D’Angelo Russell, while also bulking up the frontcourt with Willie Cauley-Stein, thus adding more youth to the team. The bench, more or less, was replenished from its significant losses of Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala.
1. Everyone on the same page
Where the problems for the Warriors lie, however, is at the exact opposite end of that spectrum.
Replacing talent doesn’t always equate to replacing chemistry. Since the learning of his movement to a new team, Russell has been putting in constant work over the offseason to ensure his development with his new backcourt partner in Stephen Curry. How well it translates in the actual season will remain a mystery until the duo gets a significant amount of games behind them.
While the replacements to the bench were considerable, to assume they’ll mesh to the degree of Livingston and Iguodala would be an impatient gesture. Add in similar fashions of DeMarcus Cousins and Quinn Cook departing for better or worse reasons to the Los Angeles Lakers, and the newcomers will have their work cut out in trying to produce the same two-way energy that excited the Bay Area’s crowd in prior seasons.
2. Learn from old mistakes
Next is possibly the most concerning topic for the upcoming season: Klay Thompson.
Sure enough, this is the same five-time All-Star that hobbled back on the court after suffering a torn ACL, unbeknownst to anyone at the moment, and nailed his free throws from a foul on the injury-causing play. So yes, his mental and physical toughness goes without question. Should that give birth to teammates, coaches, and fans alike rushing him back onto the court in a similar fashion as Durant’s situation?
Yet general manager Bob Myers alluded to an update on the shooting guard on Monday at media day.
“He’s doing fine,” said Myers. “We’ll have another update on him probably around the All-Star break. Don’t construe that as if we think he’ll be back by the All-Star break—that just means we’ll have an update then.”
3. A fresh start…for even Curry
Curry is fully aware that he’ll have his hands truly full for once in a few years. Besides elevating his game as a star always aims to, he’ll be aiding head coach Steve Kerr in finding the best combination on the floor to produce similar success to past years.
At the age of 31, Curry even playfully joked at media day that this season may be his biggest workload to date.
“48 minutes a game for all 82,” Curry said playfully. “It’s pretty much confirmed by Coach Kerr just a minute ago. Very excited about that.”
For the record, Curry has mostly averaged a low 30-minute range in playing time throughout his career. An uptick even into the low 40-minute mark could become problematic if it’s overused.
To be fair with history as the grounds for argument, the Warriors’ fan base should expect nothing less than another consecutive trip to the NBA Finals. The reality of that, however, is very slim. A successful season for the Warriors is watching them get back to winning ways and gluing the missing pieces in as they go.