Hedrich Files

Analyzing our pop culture footprint one jump shot at a time.

Category: Golden State Warriors (Page 1 of 4)

Points from the Key Podcast: Ep. 43 – Warriors Pop Champagne

Logan, Michael Swander, and Kyle Brown break down the NBA Finals from top to bottom, including Warriors Twitter exposing the cold takes, our experiences watching Game 5, Kerr’s insistence on ‘Strength in Numbers’, what the Cavaliers have to do moving forward, how the Warriors stack up against the ’80’s NBA legends, the lack of leadership in the Cavs front office, and how LeBron concocted the situation around him. Also, Nick gets Wrong.

Twitter: @LoganGiantsbane  Facebook: Hedrich Files

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/dodging-la-podcast/id100199184

 

Points from the Key Podcast: Ep. 42 – NBA Finals A-Z w/ Paris Lay

Logan is joined by Dave, Brian, and Paris to discuss the insanity of the media during the break between the conference finals and the championship, what the X-factors will be in the series, LeBron’s legacy vs Michael Jordan and ranking their Finals opponents, who’s legacy needs the Finals MVP the most, and if the Warriors going 16-0 validates KD’s decision. Doc Rivers superteam comments were called out and the benefits of Mike Brown being coach are weighed. The podcast concludes with a brief talk on how the Oracle crowd has changed.

Twitter: @LoganGiantsbane  Facebook: Hedrich Files

Paris Lay Twitter: @ParisLay

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/dodging-la-podcast/id100199184

25 NBA Finals Predictions for Cavs vs. Warriors: The Three-quel

The rubber match between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors begins Thursday, June 1 at 6 PST on ABC. Here are 25 predictions for what to expect from the Three-Match.

1. Klay will break out and have 2 games hitting at least 7 three’s.

2. LeBron James will, once again, be the overall stats leader for the series (PPG, MPG, RPG, APG, SPG) and average just shy of a triple double, but…

3. Stephen Curry will win Finals MVP.

4. Mike Brown will exercise his LBJ demons and be a factor in the series.

5. LeBron James will upstage Tyronn Lue more than once.

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Points from the Key Podcast: Ep. 27 – Klay Drops 60 + NBA News and Rumors

Logan and Brian are joined by Golden State Warriors historian Alex C. to discuss Klay Thompson’s historically efficient night dropping 60 in under 30 minutes. The trio attempt to put Klay’s performance into historical context vs. a few different Kobe nights and Wilt’s 100. The discussion, of course, divulges into the Westbrook MVP conversation. The show concludes with a few rumors and news items regarding Chris Bosh vs. the Heat and the D-Mo Rockets contract flub.

Twitter: @LoganGiantsbane

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/dodging-la-podcast/id1001991847

Periscope: https://www.periscope.tv/LoganGiantsbane/

https://soundcloud.com/pointsfromthekey/points-from-the-key-podcast-ep-27-klay-drops-60-nba-news-and-rumors

Points from the Key Podcast: Ep. 23 – Warriors get Stomped + MVP Picks

Logan, Dave, and Brian record for the first time together in person in Los Angeles to discuss the Lakers thrashing of the Warriors, what the Warriors biggest problems are for the future, and who Brian is most excited about on the Lakers. As always, a deep dive on who will win the NBA’s MVP, and other storylines the trio is most anticipating this season.

Twitter: @LoganGiantsbane

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/dodging-la-podcast/id1001991847

https://soundcloud.com/pointsfromthekey/points-from-the-key-podcast-ep-23-warriors-get-stomped-mvp-picks

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Points from the Key Podcast #22: NBA Week 1 Review+ Predictions

Logan assures the PftK audience that he, Dave, and Brian are still alive and so is the podcast! In a solo pod, Logan brings the heat on his beloved Warriors and their rocky start, then jumps into his thoughts on The Bulls, Knicks, and how terrible the Lakers might be before dropping a surprising MVP pick.

Twitter: @LoganGiantsbane

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/dodging-la-podcast/id1001991847

https://soundcloud.com/pointsfromthekey/points-from-the-key-podcast-22-nba-week-1-review-predictions

Points from the Key Podcast #17: NBA FINALS Game 1 Recap

Brian, Dave and Logan break down how the Warriors pulled off a game 1 victory in Golden State despite Klay and Steph only combining for 20 points. The pod kicks off with news of the Rockets finding their new coach, and then it jumps right into discussing how the Eastern Conference Playoffs didn’t prepare the Cavaliers for the onslaught they faced in the Finals.

Twitter: @PointsfromKey

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/dodging-la-podcast/id1001991847

https://soundcloud.com/pointsfromthekey/points-from-the-key-podcast-17-nba-finals-game-1-recap

How Nike let the superstar of a generation slip through their fingers by Brian Bernstein

What do Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Michael Jordan have in common? They are players who are/were superstar athletes dominating the NBA, and they all have a major shoe/clothing endorsement by Nike.

Where does reigning MVP Stephen Curry factor in? The point at issue extends back to the summer of 2013, when Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry was a sneaker free agent, and Nike let him walk away to sign with the upstart brand, Under Armour.

During the offseason, Curry had a meeting scheduled with Nike who looked to keep the rising star signed to their brand. The only problem was Nike didn’t believe Curry had the ability to be a suitable endorsement who could carry a line by himself. Like so many others in his life, Nike underestimated Curry.

No one saw this astronomical rise coming. Here was a player making his mark in the league meeting with a company that owns the NBA, figuratively speaking. Nike is the brand that is supposed to sign all the game’s biggest and brightest stars, and yet seemed to epically swing and miss in this situation. “According to Nick DePaula of The Vertical, Nike has signed 68 percent of NBA players, more than 74 percent if you include Nike’s Jordan Brand subsidiary.”

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What went horribly wrong that this goliath was unable to keep a rising star who is now the face of the NBA? Sources have leaked that Nike walked into the meeting with Curry over-confident, and under appreciative of what they already had in Curry. They pitched him using storyboards with Durant’s name written on it. “I stopped paying attention after that,” said Dell Curry, Steph’s father who was present for the meeting. What major conglomerate reuses their storyboards in a pitch meeting? It shows a lack of professionalism and a non interest in keeping the sharp shooter.

Curry never felt welcomed or a high priority by Nike. In the same summer, Nike had their eyes set on building lines for Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavilers, and Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans.

Chris Strachan, a friend of Curry’s, recalls the whole process. “That summer, when it was really decision time, [Nike] were looking at Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis coming up. They gave Kyrie a camp and they gave Anthony Davis a camp. They didn’t give Steph a camp.” Although this may seem unimportant to the laymen, for the cream of the crop of NBA stars, hosting camps is a symbol of pride as it’s about passing along knowledge to the younger generation.

It recently surfaced that Nike did not fully believe that Steph Curry, a non high flying, super athletic player, could be the face of the NBA and be a marketable candidate who was deserving of a monster deal of his own. Another factor that played into Curry’s decision not to sign with Nike was when a company’s official, who was present in the meeting, addressed him as “Steph-on” and not “Steph-en.” There is simply no excuse for this.

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Curry turned his back on the “swoosh” and found a new home in Baltimore, Maryland, with Under Armour. This was, and is, still the biggest move by a then up-and-coming brand that has now is trying to establish itself on the same level as Nike and Adidas. Boasting a roster that includes Cam Newton, Jordan Spieth, Bryce Harper, and Tom Brady, Under Armour is the sexy new brand in a world where mass appeal and exclusivity is king.

Curry is probably the most marketable athlete today because of the type of player he is. He isn’t ridiculously strong, freakishly athletic, or super tall. He is the first superstar player that an average Joe can say, “I could actually be like that professional athlete.”

He’s dominating the game today with his impressive ball handling skills and deadly accurate shooting from unthinkable range. But it’s not like it’s all natural born talent; he achieved it through practice and repetition, and Curry gives off an aura of being relatable. His popularity has grown to the point where fans arrive early for his games, home and away, just to watch his pre-game warm-ups. That’s unheard of.

How much did Nike actually lose? Stephen Curry not only had a career year in 2014-15 when he won his first NBA championship and league MVP, he is following it up with yet an even better season this year. He is set to not only be a back-to-back NBA Champion, but league MVP too. He also has his team on pace to break the record for most regular season wins–the record is 72 by MJ’s Chicago Bulls in 1995-96. Curry has also already broken his single season record for most three-point shots made in the regular season this year, and the season’s not over. There is almost no way to quantify how much he would be worth to Nike.

How bad did Nike swing and miss on this deal? On March 3, 2016, Business Insider made public a note by Jay Sole, a Morgan Stanley analyst, on Under Armor’s business prospects, and Curry’s potential worth to the company is estimated to be more than $14 BILLION! Yeah, you read that right.

Clearly Curry is more valuable to Under Armour than a huge conglomerate like Nike, he is the sole reason they have become the third major brand in NBA shoe discussions. The only question is, where do they go from here?

-Brian Bernstein

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Check out the latest episode of the podcast:

https://soundcloud.com/pointsfromthekey/points-from-the-key-10-ncaa-final-fourearly-nba-awards

A Power Struggle: The Difference Between LeBron James & Stephen Curry

As much as James Harden and Kevin Durant would like to say otherwise, LeBron James and Stephen Curry have ascended above the rest of the league and have become both the most popular stars in the sport, along with being ambassadors for the league. But each players rise to superstardom could not have been more different. LeBron James was the most highly touted/recruited prospect in the history of sports. He has been nationally hyped since he was 16 years old when he graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and was universally viewed as a can’t miss player.

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Stephen Curry, however, never got any national recognition until his sophomore year in college at Davidson, and it took until 3/4 years ago until the general public took him seriously at the NBA level. As a prospect, Curry was seen as a one dimensional player, and many thought he could never succeed at the professional level. His frame was too slight, he was a gimmicky player, and could never be the best player on a relevant team, Curry heard it all when it came to criticism.

Below are each players’ high school scouting report (Courtesy of NBADraft.net):

Stephen Curry:

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LeBron James:

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Curry faced adversity and doubters at every level. He was not recruited by any Division 1 programs, and wanted to attend his fathers alma mater, Virginia Tech, but ended up at a small school near his hometown, in Davidson, North Carolina. During his tenure at Davison College, the nation got a little taste of the magic that was to come:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfocKf-Pw4M

In 2002, college coaches nationwide gushed over LeBron James’ potential, hoping they would be the one to convince him to wait at least 1 year before jumping into the NBA, but the allure of turning pro was too much, and after the Nike contract controversy, LBJ had lost his eligibility as an amateur athlete.

LeBron would have gone number one overall in nearly any NBA draft, even in retrospect, his upside and ceiling were seen as limitless. With his frame and skill set, there was absolutely no reason that LBJ wouldn’t succeed at the NBA level. He was viewed as a grand slam prospect and the 2003 draft lottery was nothing more than the LBJ sweepstakes.

Curry was viewed as a potential top 10 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, but still 4 guards were taken ahead of him, including the T’Wolves taking both Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio directly before him. There were questions about whether he could defend/stay on the floor in the NBA because of his slight frame, but to their credit, most GM’s knew his floor wouldn’t be atrocious because his shooting would immediately translate. At the very least, he could be a pretty solid spot up shooter.

Upon turning pro, all the pressure was on LeBron to live up to the lofty expectation set by pundits nationwide. To his credit, he essentially single handedly brought the 2007 Cavaliers to the Finals, a team which consisted of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Daniel Gibson, Anderson Varejao, and Sasha Pavlovic. This early Finals trip, however, may have not beneficial to the ultimate trajectory of his career because of how early it came. Going into that Finals, the pundits were going INSANE with the Michael Jordan comparisons because of how much earlier LBJ was, potentially, carrying a team to the promised land than Jordan did. If he won, especially with this roster, then went on to win 5 more Finals (which seemed plausible at the time) there was no doubt we would be witnessing the greatest basketball player of all time. Of course, the Cavs ended up getting swept by the Spurs, so that quieted the comparisons for the time being. The point is that while it was impressive that LBJ carried a C+ roster to the Finals, it might have been the worst thing to happen to him 4 years into his illustrious career because it set the bar so high that any following season that didn’t end up with a Finals victory was widely viewed as a failure. maxresdefault-1

This idea would plague him until summer 2010, when he decided he was fed up with the lackluster rosters surrounding him in Cleveland, and took his talents to South Beach to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh under the tutelage of Pat Riley and Eric Spoelstra. While the superficial reading of the move was to get away from the incomplete rosters in Cleveland for the insane super-roster in Miami, the faults of the Cavs construction can greatly be attributed to LBJ himself.

There is an epidemic in the NBA, especially when superstars are nearing free agency, that owners and GM’s will give their star player too much front office power in player personnel decisions. Never has there been a player this more applied to than LBJ. Between the Cavs ’07 Finals run and his departure in 2010, James had more influence on personnel decisions than any other player in the history of the league. Not Magic, not Jordan, not Bird, not West, not Chamberlain ever got to wield the type of power that LBJ held over ‘Comic Sans’ Dan Gilbert. James continued to hold the franchise hostage, subtly showing his displeasure with the roster, and behind closed doors threatening to leave the team unless he was given the players he desired to play with.

This is the biggest difference between LeBron and Stephen Curry. Not their physical attributes, not their styles of play, not their public personas, but their attitude towards their respective front offices.

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The only time Curry has ever expressed any distaste for a front office decision was after the Mark Jackson firing, because of how tightly knit of a group Jackson had created and nurtured within the 2013 Warriors. Of course the ownership consulted their star player when deciding who to hire as their next head coach, but unlike LBJ, Curry didn’t have final say on who would become the Warriors head coach.

In an effort to retain King James prior to losing him in free agency, Pat Riley (the man who gives in to no superstar) even drafted Shabazz Napier because LeBron tweeted about him a few months prior. LeBron keeps himself in such a position of power that traditionally staunch teams bend over backwards just to try and please him.

Currently, James is in the first year of a two year deal, with a second year player option. He is expected to opt out of that second year come next summer, and continually hold the Cavs front office hostage/accountable until he see’s fit to sign a long term deal. There are multiple reasons he would do this. The salary cap is expected to jump up to over $100 million after next season, so there’s no financial incetive to sign a max (5 year) deal at this time, but he also wants the Cavs to actively feel the threat of him potentially leaving every offseason, so the front office does their best to construct a championship caliber roster (or one that James sees fit, because sometimes, as we’ve seen in the past, those ideas aren’t mutually exclusive). It’s difficult to say whether LeBron’s contract hardball is helping or hurting the Cavs overall, because it does keep the FO on their toes and never allows them to feel complacent with their roster, but then again, as we’ve seen over the last 16 months, there is so much roster turnover, that it’s hard for the core group to find any kind of rhythm on the court because of how much the roster is constantly changing.

This overuse of power has never been more apparent than during the David Blatt era for the Cavaliers. From Day 1 the relationship between James and Blatt had been rocky, and James’ distaste for this coach was never more apparent than when James called an audible in the playoffs against the Bulls.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdKCUpQg-sU

That is not the play that Blatt drew up. James pulled the authority card and elected for an iso fadeaway in the corner, putting all the pressure on himself, instead of an actual drawn up play by his head coach. It was at this exact moment that the general public learned how toxic the relationship was between star and coach. Had the jump shot not fallen, and the Cavs ended up losing in OT, this would have been a much bigger story, but because James hit the shot, Blatt had to keep his head down and not make a fuss that he didn’t even have final say on play-calling on his own team.

The Blatt tenured lasted longer than it ever should have. It was doomed from the start purely due to timing. Dan Gilbert acquired David Blatt weeks before LeBron announced his decision to return to the Cavaliers, and Blatt was seen as a developmental type coach. GM David Griffin expected Blatt to help Kyrie Irving, Anthony Bennett, and Andrew Wiggins foster their talent and potentially develop into superstars down the line. The LeBron thing was thrust upon them and they couldn’t back out of the Blatt deal, so for him to last more than a full season was a miracle.

Curry, on the other hand, has never actively threatened the Warriors front office to make moves to please him, the team has been allowed to flourish with the same core group for the last 3 years now. The only vague threat that Curry has held over the Warriors is him potentially signing with his hometown Charlotte Hornets come free agency. While Curry has assured Warriors fans that he plans on playing in the Bay Area for his whole career, the allure of playing in the city he grew up, where his father played much of his NBA career and is the color commentator for Hornets games, continues to haunt the Warriors front office.
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It is difficult to say why LeBron feels the need to pull the strings of his franchise from behind the scenes, but it is likely because of the immense pressure that’d been placed on him by the Cleveland, Heat and NBA fans in general. It took him 8 years to win his first title, and it took creating a superteam for that to occur. Before leaving Cleveland for warmer pastures, LeBron was already having the critics breathing heavily down his neck, and he must feel like if all the pressure is on him, he ought to be the one to call the shots as to who he gets to play with.

LeBron has publicly stated that going to Miami for four seasons was akin to a college experience for him, He got to leave his home state, and was finally not fully in control of his own destiny, he was trusting Bosh, Wade and Riley to educate him and enlighten him in how to trust his teammates, but upon moving back to Cleveland, he has seemingly fallen back into his old habits of running the franchise from the inside. And what can Dan Gilbert do about it? As recently as this week rumors have leaked that LeBron will evaluate if leaving the Cavaliers again will make for the best business decision of his career, so what is Gilbert to do but constantly give into the demands of the greatest superstar of his generation?

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Stephen Curry and LeBron James have had polar opposite journeys to NBA dominance. One has been humbled at every level of play, while the other had the world handed to him on a silver platter. Expectations have been vastly different, but now that Curry has caught up to James in skill and popularity, any result outside of a title will be viewed as a failure.

Golden State Warriors 2015-16 Season Preview: Will They Repeat?

The Golden State Warriors are reigning champions for the first time in 40 years. I never thought I would type those words. Even entering last season I was skeptical of Curry being able to make that final leap from superstar to MVP, for Draymond Green to take the stride from quality second rounder off the bench to potential Defensive Player of the Year, for Andre Iguodala to ever live up to his massive contract, for the rookie coach, Steve Kerr, to reinvigorate the lackluster offense that Mark Jackson left behind. All this and more ended up coming true, with gutsy comebacks in the playoffs, both in game and series’, to Stephen Curry finally grasping the label from Rick Barry as the greatest Warrior of all time. Last season, even after a few productive playoff runs, no one saw the Warriors as serious title contenders until it was far too late, but now with all eyes on them, the Bay Area’s team must be ready to have that target on their back.

Everything seemed to fall in the right place for Curry to capture MVP trophy, I believe it will actually be harder for Steph to regain the MVP than for the Warriors to repeat as champions. While the Western Conference is as lethal as ever, more legit MVP candidates threaten his reign than do that of the Warriors making it back to the Finals. Only the Clippers, Thunder, and Spurs truly stand between Golden State and the Western Conference Championship, but there are a handful of those with MVP aspirations. James Harden felt he was snubbed last season and will have a vendetta to bring the individual trophy home, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are both perennial contenders (depending on which of the two last through more of the season), LeBron James is a contender every time he steps on the court, then there are a handful of dark horse candidates: Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis, and Kawhi Leonard all have legitimate candidacies for their 2015-16 campaign.

There is little doubt the Warriors won’t win the Pacific, with the only team that could possibly challenge them being the Los Angeles Clippers, but there are questions about their newly acquired depth and if Deandre Jordan will ever improve or if he’s already hit his ceiling. Although the Clippers have added veterans such as Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson, and Josh Smith, Coach/GM Doc Rivers may have forgotten that there is only one ball on the court during the game, and they didn’t bring in the type of players that make those around them better. Expect early turmoil from the big personalities on the Clippers until Chris Paul can reign them in by spring time.

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The one major move the Warriors made in the offseason was shipping off David Lee to the Boston Celtics, while it may seem like they need to find a new veteran leader with Lee gone, with the experience the team has from the last few playoff runs, even the young guys like Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green are viewed around the league like seasoned veterans. Losing Lee may have broken a few hearts along the way, but it saved the Warriors front office nearly $50 million in luxury tax fees, so shipping him off was a no brainer.

The only two free agents the Warriors had were Leandro Barbosa and Draymond Green, both re-signed, but Harrison Barnes continues to hold out for a new deal. He is on the books for $5.19 million (the last year of his rookie deal) and the Warriors have a 4 year $64 million dollar deal on the table which Barnes’ party said ‘was a nice starting point’. This is the ultimate selfish move, Klay took less than the max, Green took less than the max, Curry is making pennies on the dollar for what he is worth, so what does Barnes think he’s doing? This team, in 2015, was all about sacrifice and look where it got them, Barnes has immense value to the Warriorss both on the court and in the locker room, so hopefully cooler heads will prevail because $16 mil a year already seems like an overpay for a guy that has underachieved every year of his basketball life since his senior year of high school. He was the number one prospect for his class in HS, and was a pre-season all American at NC as a freshman, something that has never happened in USA Today’s All American polls, yet he fell to the Warriors at #7 in the 2012 draft and has really only lived up to the hype in one playoff series (his rookie years against the Nuggets). While I’m not one to tell a man to take less than he thinks he’s worth, it’s simply a matter of whether Barnes wants to stay on a playoff relevant team. The public has no reason to think wants to leave, and if he wants to stay in the Bay Area, $64 million is the most the Warriors should offer him. If Barnes wants to be the number one or two option on a horrible team with no chance of making noise around the league, the Warriors ought to let him walk come next summer.

Many may find themselves asking, what can Stephen Curry do to further his game? At this point, it all comes on the defensive end. He has already twice set the record for most three’s attempted and made in a season, and we have no reason to doubt he will do it again in 2015-16, and while his turnover ratio is still higher than most would desire, it’s a byproduct of how creative and free flowing Kerr lets him be on the court, and Kerr doesn’t want Curry to feel encumbered by a few silly turnovers to deter him from making that extra special pass. The only real way Curry can continue to improve his game is to keep taking baby steps towards being a good wing defender. Last year, he became a solid team defender, and playing alongside Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson definitely allowed him to not be forced to defend the best guard on the court at all times. Even the ever so slightest improvement of Curry’s wing defensive would make the Warriors nearly unstoppable on the defensive end as they already finished in the top 2 in DVOA and defensive efficiency the last two seasons.

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 16: Stephen Curry #30 and Andre Iguodala #9 of the Golden State Warriors celebrate with the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Six of the 2015 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 16, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The biggest question mark going into last season was how valuable an asset Steve Kerr would end up being and he achieved the highest level of success in his debut season. With Kerr sidelined for an unknown amount of time, the Warriors will have newcomer Luke Walton at the helm for the foreseeable future, and the Bay Area better appreciate him while he’s still here because all the rumors are already swirling that Walton will likely be the next Warriors assistant poached for a head coaching job. That would make it 3 years in a row that this happened, with the Kings taking Mike Malone, then the Warriors taking Alvin Gentry last year. From what we’ve seen in the preseason, Walton runs the ship much like Kerr, with a calm and cool demeanor on the sidelines, but knows how to get his guys up for big moments. We shouldn’t expect Kerr to be gone longer than the first month or two of the regular season, but Walton seems to fit in just fine thus far.

One interesting development the Warriors will have to deal with sooner rather than later is Andrew Bogut’s waning health versus the development of Festus Ezeli. While Bogut has proven to be an elite defender and serviceable on the offensive end, he is both near the end of his contract and his days of playing starters minutes. Ezeli is due a new contract come next summer, and many GM’s have their eye on him because of the great potential he possesses. He is a massive body that can protect the paint, and while he hasn’t quite mastered the pick and roll, he is slowly becoming a better weapon on that end of the court. His biggest deficit? He has only played basketball for 6ish years, starting only when he got the Vanderbilt University, and doesn’t have the soft touch around the rim, but his athleticism at times forces Kerr/Waltons hand to keep him on the court instead of Bogut. We saw the Warriors use more unconventional line ups in the playoffs last season, sitting both big men at times and just rolling Draymond Green out there as the ‘Center’, but having a trusted true center in their back pocket is one aspect that sets the Warriors apart from any other team in the league.

Will the Iguodala/Barnes dynamic stay at the status quo? If the Warriors want to play hardball in negotiations with Barnes they may remove him from the starting lineup despite all their success with Iggy coming off the bench last year. In the preseason the Warriors tried many different line ups, both out of necessity and to see what they had near the end of their bench. Brandon Rush started a few games in the preseason and looked almost as serviceable as Barnes. If Barnes takes a step back this season and loses whatever clout he had with the Warriors front office, he may regret not taking that initial offer.

Can Brandon Rush have a bounce back year? He openly admits last year was a massive disappointment for him and he expects much more from himself, he is a true professional and the Warriors had immaculate health last season but may not be so lucky in 2015-16. Rush must stay ready and be prepared at any moment to see a massive increase in minutes.

Klay Thompson has been playing the best basketball of his life over the last 12 months, so what must he do to improve? For Thompson, it’s all about consistency. He always brings it on the defensive end, often having to guard the best opposing wing player every night, but this exhausts him at times, so it is understandable when he doesn’t light it up offensively, but that’s where the distinction between star and superstar is made. If Klay wants to be taken seriously as the best shooting guard in the game, he must stay more consistent on O. He goes silent for long stretches (not as bad as Barnes does), but once you’ve seen a guy go for 37 in a single quarter, it’s difficult to see him ever go any quarter without scoring.

Shaun Livingston is in a contract year, should we expect big things from him off the bench? Already one of the Warriors most reliable threats off the bench, Livingston sacrificed his tarting job with the Nets 2 summers ago when he decided to come back out West and be the solid back up PG the Warriors have desperately needed since Jarrett Jack left (ironically Jack is now the starting PG on the atrocious Nets). Shaun’s mid range post up game may be the best of any guard in the league, and if there’s a mouse in the house, Liv is sure to punish him down low. While I don’t expect his numbers to be vastly different from last year’s 19 minutes per game, 6 points, 3.3 assist and 2.3 rebound, it’s his poise down the stretch of tight games, and his ability to adjust to any line up the Warriors need him in that makes him to valuable to the team. His will continue to be on many GM’s wishlist.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6UnF6qTJhg&w=560&h=315]

How significant will the loss of Alvin Gentry be? He did much of the heavy lifting behind the scenes and helped Steve Kerr develop an identity offensively as a coach, with Gentry now at the helm in New Orleans, the Warriors promoted Luke Walton to lead assistant (and now temporary head coach) and brought in Steve Nash to assist during practices, it will be interesting to see the new dynamics on the bench. Ron Adams is still on the sidelines though, so Walton should have all the helping hands he needs. We wish Gentry lots of success down in New Orleans!

The Golden State Warriors finished the year with the best defense in the league and the second best offense, just a tick behind the Clippers in efficiency, which is absolutely insane. Most teams who finish with the best defense have a middling offense and get by on their defensive prowess, just look at the Bulls under Thibs or the 2004 championship Pistons, they squeeze by on offense while dominating their opponents on the defensive end. That the Warriors are elite on both ends prove that the personnel they have acquired is by every definition a special group of guys. It’s not often you find an undersized guard who may end up being the greatest shooter in NBA history, or a cast off who fell to the second round because no one thought he had a real position in the NBA who ends up being one of the best defenders in the league. It goes to show that you cannot measure what’s inside, the grittiness and toughness may seem like superficial qualities that get passed over, but this team has it. They have every reason to continue to play with a chip on their shoulder. Don’t think Draymond didn’t see your tweets about them getting an easy road to a championship, just don’t be too heartbroken when the Warriors end your teams season.

PREDICTION: 62-20, 1st in Western Conference

AND check out the latest episode of the podcast where we preview the Central Division and argue over who should be MVP in the NFL:

https://soundcloud.com/dodgingla/dodging-la-podcast-38-nflnba-central-division-preview-w-dave

 

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