NBA 2013-2014 season preview: Golden State Warriors
Last Season: 47-35 (Finished 6th in the Western Conference)
Key Losses: PG Jarrett Jack
Notable Free Agent Signings: PG Toney Douglas, SG Andre Iguodala, and PF Mareese Speights
The Golden State Warriors were certainly one of the biggest surprises in the post-season last year. Entering the playoffs as the 6th seed in the Western conference, the Warriors upset the Denver Nuggets in the first round and gave the eventual Western conference champions, the San Antonio Spurs, more than they could handle in a highly-contested six game series.
Despite losing sixth man of the year candidate Jarrett Jack, who anchored the second unit and provided consistent scoring and passing (although many Warriors fans secretly grumbled that Jack was a bit of a ball-hog at the end of games), the Warriors made a number of commendable off-season acquisitions who will more than help Golden State on their way to a higher playoff berth this upcoming season. Here’s why:
Acquisition #1: Andre Iguodala
Iguodala brings an additional scoring option and elite perimeter defence to a team that was 19th in the latter category last season. While Klay Thompson can lock down opposing guards for short stretches of time, the energy he expends on the defensive end often hinders his ability to create on the offensive end. Iguodala will relieve some of the defensive pressure off of Thompson and will provide additional three-point shooting to one of the deadliest teams in the league from beyond the arc. He’s a proven force in the paint and a great locker room presence stemming from his time as a Philadelphia 76er. Iguodala is an excellent pick-up for the Warriors and will only benefit the blue and yellow.
Acquisition #2: Toney Douglas
Toney Douglas is an interesting player. As a Lakers draft pick in 2009, I’ve actively followed his pro career and have been surprised that he hasn’t been able to find a permanent home. Douglas is a dependable back-up guard who doesn’t turn the ball over often and is an excellent perimeter shooter. Douglas isn’t as good as Jack was, but will be an asset to the Warriors as he can back up both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson as opposed to just the point guard. Douglas can score without abandon if he gets hot but also doesn’t force his shot if they aren’t falling. Great pick-up for the Warriors, Douglas will contribute off of a talented bench that includes Mareese Speights and Draymond Green.
Acquisition #3: Mareese Speights
Speights is one of the most active players on the court I’ve ever seen. Always running and hustling, Speights has the ability to pull 20 rebounds down in a game (which he has before), and is an athletic specimen that will gladly guard players bigger and taller than him. He will give coach Mark Jackson 110% every time he’s on the court and other players appreciate someone who puts so much effort into his game. He will be an excellent role model for the Warriors’s younger players.
I have high hopes for the Warriors this year. They have arguably the best shooting backcourt in the league right now with guard phenomena’s Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. They have an excellent coach in hall-of-fame coach Mark Jackson, who thoroughly outcoached coach of the year George Karl in the Warriors first round match-up with the Denver Nuggets during last year’s playoffs.
Rookie Harrison Barnes emerged as a dependable three-point shooting option for the Warriors, as well as a highlight-reel machine as he threw down a couple of memorable dunks last year. Golden State has an elite starting five and a dependable bench. It’s possible that with the decline of the Lakers, I might hop on the Warriors bandwagon, but that remains to be seen.