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2017 NBA Season Preview Series: Golden State Warriors

Golden State Warriors Victory Parade and Rally

I know I know “The Warriors are going to win the title. End of blog” Very original internet commenter. While I tend to agree, it’s fair to say the Warriors are slight favorites to repeat as NBA champions, we still need this blog. Why? Well mostly for all the new Warriors fans that are going to start watching this year but will swear they were Warriors fans dating all the way back to these days

RUN TMC

They’re going to need some talking points, so I’m here for them.

2016-17 Season Highlights

It is true though, I just can’t see any team in the league beating a healthy GS team. I don’t care what new super teams exist now, whether it’s OKC, HOU, BOS (kinda), SA etc. Not only did they bring everyone of importance back, but they also added. How this is possible makes no sense, but that’s a credit to the GS front office for being prepared for a potential dynasty. The rest of us can be angry and mostly jealous that the rich are able to get richer, but how long can this truly last?

If you root for any other NBA team, I don’t think you’ll like the answer.

First, let’s look at the Warriors current roster

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That supermax tho my word. In a summer that saw turnover all over the damn place, this year’s Warriors team is only missing James McAdoo and Matt Barnes. Somehow I think they’ll recover. At a total of $139,540,014 this is the second most expensive roster in the NBA, trailing only CLE. Already in the luxury tax, this is important as we move forward. For example, next season, as it stands right now, the Warriors will have 9 signed players for a total of $129M. Again, over the luxury tax with around 6 spots to fill. Now Durant could opt out of his $26M player option again, but I can’t image he’d take too much less, not that it would matter for luxury tax purposes. The Warriors are going to be repeat offenders in 2018-19. Why does that matter, well, look at these numbers

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We’re about to find out how much rich billionaire owners are willing to pay to continue to win titles. Could a team really have a bill of $400M?!?! It’s not my money so I say why not? Obviously the more they win, the more money they make, and we’re seeing a truly special brand of basketball. In my opinion they’d be silly to do anything that might jeopardize this success.

Will Klay Thompson want to be a #1 guy in the future? Maybe, but he then said he’d take slightly less to stay in GS to which that I say goddammit. Here the rest of us are, trying to build our franchises for potential success post GS, but what if there never is a post GS. What if this is a problem for the next 5ish years at a minimum? Gross.

So back to this 2017-18 team. Looking at that roster, I’m not seeing too many holes. If you’ve watched any of Jordan Bell so far this summer/preseason, you’re probably like me and convinced he’s going to be the real next Draymond.

Which I’ll remind you, the Bulls gave the Warriors for cash. Nope, couldn’t use a young promising player in CHI that’s for damn sure.

The factor in the addition of Nick Young. The ultimate irrational confidence shooter, I’d say other than GS the only team he probably dreamt about being on was Houston. Guy just wants to get it and chuck it. Part of me is excited for the possessions where clearly KD or Curry are on fire, Young touches the ball, and immediately shoots it instead. It’s going to be fantastic. At the same time, there are reasons to be somewhat excited about this signing. As with everyone who plays on this team, they are going to be blessed with dozens of open looks a night. This is good for Young, because he shot 43.2% on wide open threes last year (42.1% on regular open), including 50% on above the break threes. 50%!! Do you think he’s going to have that type of shot in this offense? I do.

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Then add Omri Casspi. My fellow tribesman isn’t too shabby either on wide open threes, he shot 50% on those last year. Honestly this isn’t fucking fair.

It may not seem like it on paper, but to me, their most important summer move was brining back Iggy. Not only is he a proven big time player in big time spots, but it prevented him from bolting to Houston, and now doesn’t make this team heavily dependent on Young/McCaw/Looney etc on that second unit. If we’re being completely honest, the Warriors bench as a whole is pretty “meh”. They averaged just 32.8 points a night, which was 21st in the NBA (but they did lead the league w/ 52.5% shooting), and that number dipped slightly to 31 a night in the playoffs. To me, this is why you see the additions of Young/Casspi. It may not matter most nights because this is the best starting five on the planet, but if you consider how deadly they were last year, now imagine this team with a slightly improved second unit.

It’s no secret that the key to the Warriors success is how unselfish they play, and I don’t see that slowing down anytime soon. Second in the NBA in assist per night (and first in assist Per 100), the way the Warriors move the ball is the very definition of basketball porn

What makes their passing so effective, is this team cuts perhaps better than any team in the league. They led the league in cut frequency last year at 12.3%, were third in points per cut possession (1.33) and had the most points via the cut (1485). The only teams that scored at a higher frequency on cuts (whether it was a FG or FT) were Houston and LAC. To have an offense like this you need a couple things. First you need position players that can read a defense and identify the soft spots. Then you need to have the passers capable of finding those cutters. I would say every starter fits that bill. Even that asshole Zaza.

Then, once the Warriors have you so worried about cutting, they hit you with the off screen shit. They led the league in this type of offense as well, running it 13% of the time and scored 1,224 points from it. They shot 44.7% off screens, and finished the year in the 93rd percentile. Now, are they so successful at this because they use moving screens like 94% of the time? You be the judge

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And finally, there’s the kiss of death when playing GS, and that’s turning the ball over. You turn the ball over against this team, you’ve lost the game before you can even realize it. Nobody plays better transition basketball than the Warriors, and they play a fuck ton of it, about 18.5% of the time. They had over 2,000 points via transition. This is pretty easy when you’re causing 15.5 TOs a night and average nearly 10 steals a game. The Warriors have elite offensive talent, no one is questioning that. What makes them devastating is their ability to combine that with ELITE level defense. This means they can essentially match any style of play. You want to try and slow it down against them? Good luck, they are going to turn you over. You want to maybe outrun them? Well your coach is a dummy because it’s impossible to outrun this team.

It starts with Draymond obviously, but he’s not alone. Klay and Durant are plus defenders, Zaza is always down to hurt someone, and Curry while he has his flaws, has improved his defense through the years (career 106 Drtg).

So yes, this is just a long way to tell you what you already know. The Warriors are the best basketball team on the planet, and unfortunately for the rest of the NBA, I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Official Greenie Prediction: 64 wins