With a new coach in town, the Golden State Warriors are expected to thrive this season despite past failures. Stephen Loftus previews their chances.
2013-2014 record: 51-31
Key player: Stephen Curry
Offseason Acquisitions: Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa
New coach Steve Kerr faces an uphill task to replicate the achievements of Mark Jackson and his previous regime after the Warriors reached the playoffs in 2013 and 2014. First and second round playoff exits cost Jackson his job and left Kerr to take over a young, talented team hungry for more success.
Jackson leaves in his wake the terrifying backcourt duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who in the past two years have combined to average 40 points a game.
Injuries to key players have become a frequent occurrence for the luckless Warriors. Whether it is season ending injuries to Brandon Rush and Andre Iguodala or the ongoing concerns over Andrew Bogut’s fitness, Golden State have reasons for coming up short when the lights are brightest. This is reflected in Steve Kerr’s recruitment policy to have a deep bench with productive impact players should the inevitable happen again.
The Warriors have added backup guards Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa over the summer to compliment Curry and Thompson in their quest to progress past the Western Conference Semi-finals for the first time since 1975. However, it has been the lacklustre play of Harrison Barnes in playoff games that has disappointed Warriors fans since he was drafted with the 7th pick in the 2012 draft. He is now resigned to splitting time at small forward with Andre Iguodala in Kerr’s new system.
Expectations in the Bay area are sky high after Kerr’s appointment and it will be a heavy burden to carry all season for the young Warriors. They, along with the Clippers and Thunder, are expected to excel in the Western Conference but so far have fallen to the older, more experienced teams in previous playoffs.
Young teams all with desires on making the NBA finals, all in the one conference. Only one can progress. This promises to be fascinating.
Another fruitless year beckons for the Warriors who do not have the nous to succeed in the playoffs against the top teams.
Stephen Loftus, Pundit Arena.