"The Warriors Dynasty is Over"
Warriors fans...You're going to hear that phrase over and over again. Get used to it. If the Warriors were on the stock market right now, every broker alive would be trying to sell them. Not us. Nope. I am buying into this chaos of the "new" Warriors and allow me to tell you why.
A New Challenge
This might come as a bit of a ridiculous statement but it's one to consider. The Warriors are back in the old role of being the "underdog." It's insane to think of, especially for a team that just experienced an absolute reign of terror over the last 5 years in the NBA. This team is no stranger to the underdog role, and you could argue that this might be just what the doctor ordered (forgive the terrible pun Klay fans). After losing Kevin Durant to Free Agency and with Klay Thompson going down with an ACL tear in the NBA Finals last year, this Warriors team is going to be tested more than ever. Role players are going to need to blossom, and the youth is going to need to contribute quicker than expected.
The New Splash
It was one of the most shocking moves of the entire NBA offseason. The Warriors made a splash (I know the puns are elite) this offseason with acquiring D'Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade with the Brooklyn Nets for Kevin Durant. Russell is a young talented combo-guard that has the potential to be a fantastic addition for this team, especially with Klay Thompson expected to miss most of the season.
I understand the doubts about how Russell will fit with this team. He's an extremely ball-dominant player and thrives in the pick & roll game. It will be interesting to see if the Warriors focus on more P&R sets early in the year to adapt to Russell. Some insane stats that stand out on Synergy, last year the Golden State Warriors ran 10.8% of their total offense with a P&R ball handler, 21.6% of Steph Curry's offense was involving him as the P&R ball handler. Last year with the Brooklyn Nets, D'Angelo Russell spent 49.9% of his offensive plays as a P&R ball handler. You read that stat correctly. Expect a heavy dose of Pick and Roll sets from the Golden State Warriors coaching staff this year.
Russell can be a nice weapon alongside Curry and allow Steph to continue to play off of the ball at times. If Russell's three-point shooting can take another step forward this year, this could be a very nice move for this organization.
The Masterpiece of Steph
We are about to find out just how great Steph Curry is this upcoming year. We will have a specific segment about this point, but it's important to talk about it here as well. Curry is going to get every possible defensive nightmare thrown his way this year. Opposing teams are going to send the dogs. With Klay Thompson out, Curry is going to get all of the attention he can handle and more.
But yes, you guessed it...Steph knows it's coming. Curry is going to be on a mission to try to let the rest of the league know that the Warriors aren't going anywhere. The most interesting part of this story is the fact that Steph is going to have a "back to the future" moment. He's going to be learning all over again how to play, much like the early part of his career, before his fellow splash brother Klay Thompson joined the party. He also might try to average 50 points a night which we approve of.
I am a bit surprised that Willie "Trill" Cauley-Stein didn't receive some more interest in Free Agency but the Warriors will gladly take a flier on his ability. Cauley-Stein will be a bit of a wildcard with this team and like Russell, the Warriors are going to have to make some adjustments to their system in order to get the best out of D'Angelo and WCS. Cauley-Stein is an athletic rebounding presence that should blossom playing alongside Draymond Green and it won't surprise me to see him have a big year with the Dubs. It's going to be important for Warriors fans to limit the expectations when looking at Cauley-Stein. On paper, he looks like a player that should be a perfect fit for this Warriors DNA, but it's always important to remember that there's a reason why he struggled to get a payday during the offseason. Still, I am very intrigued by the fit and think it could be a great match.
The Return of Klay
I mean come on...who isn't excited for Klay to get back.
After coming down with an ACL tear in the NBA Finals, Klay Thompson will miss the majority of the season. It's expected that the Warriors and Thompson should be targeting the All-Star break (February) for his potential return, and fresh off a max contract extension, the Warriors won't rush their second "Splash brother" back. Still, there's a lot of intrigue if the Warriors can stay afloat in the Western Conference while Klay recovers from his injury. If Thompson can return to action with the Warriors in the hunt and shake off some rust, the Dubs could be firing on all cylinders come playoff time.
New Free Agent addition Alec Burks has the potential to be a very nice asset off the bench for the Warriors. Burks has a history of showcasing fantastic stretches of his play throughout the year but will cool off suddenly. He is a microwave scorer who can get hot in a hurry. It's interesting to see the Warriors make a move for former Hawks big man Omari Spellman, especially right after they chose Villanova's Eric Paschall in the 2nd round of this year's draft. Both players are undersized 4's that showcase intelligence and a gritty mindset. It will be fascinating to see what the Warriors have in mind for both of the players. Don't be surprised if the Warriors give second-year combo guard Jacob Evans every opportunity to develop a consistent role off the bench this year. Evans was used a lot as a point guard this summer, and the Warriors will need some depth at the PG position with Shaun Livingston and Quinn Cook no longer with the team.
|D'Angelo Russell||Alfonzo Mckinnie||Draymond Green||Willie Cauley-Stein|
|Jacob Evans||Alec Burks||Glenn Robinson III||Kevon Looney||Omari Spellman|
|Jordan Poole||Damion Lee||Eric Paschall||Alen Smailagic|
* Klay is injured...in case you haven't been on Earth in the last year.
This will be one of the more underrated and intriguing storylines of the season. Don't be surprised if Steph comes out on the warpath, and the Warriors could use it especially. With the new Stadium opening up in San Francisco and the "underdog" identity fueling the locker room, this team could surprise a lot of us. This team is going to need a couple of important youth pieces to step up off the bench this year.
If the Warriors can hang on and solidify themselves in the middle of the pack around time for the All-Star break, they will have a very big piece coming back to help before a potential playoff run.