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2015-16 Golden State Warriors Season Preview

Basketball Insiders previews the Golden State Warriors’ 2015-16 season.

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The Golden State Warriors won their first title in 40 years last season. Anything but a repeat is a step back but, fortunately for the Warriors, they still have the same core and a real chance to stay on top of the NBA. En route to 67 wins, Golden State was healthy for most of the year in 2014-15. If they can avoid the injury bug, back-to-back titles could be their fate.

Five Thoughts

I never thought in a million years that the Warriors would be entering the 2015-16 season as the defending NBA champions, but here we are. To be honest with you, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Warriors end up going down in history like the 2011 Mavericks—a team for which everything broke right. The difference between the 2011 Mavs and the Warriors, however, is youth, upside and retention. The Warriors are young, and most importantly, they re-signed Draymond Green. There is absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t pick up right where they left off last year. The major concerns, from my perspective, are that the Spurs and Clippers each seem to have improved immensely. Still, being built around the best statistical shooter in the history of the game, the Warriors get my respect as the defending champions, so I am certainly taking them to win the Pacific Division. David Lee is certainly a basketball talent, but his loss won’t have a huge impact, in my opinion. He paid dividends for the Warriors in the Finals, and losing him make them even smaller, but the newly acquired Jason Thompson and the progression of Festus Ezeli should make up for that. I like the Warriors and respect them but I don’t know how far they will go this year and I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see their bid for a repeat fall short.

1st Place — Pacific Division

-Moke Hamilton

The targets are on their backs. Opponents will take their games to the next level. Their matchups will be used as measuring sticks. These are the realities facing the Warriors after winning the NBA Championship last season. Don’t expect them to mind the pressures. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are three of the top young talents in the NBA while Andre Iguodala is back as the team’s veteran leader. The Warriors’ adjustments during the NBA Finals highlighted the depth of the team. They now know how to construct the roster to counter varying opponents and their systems. In addition to the experience of the players, Steve Kerr has been battle tested as a head coach which gives the team an edge for years to come. As long as the Warriors stay healthy throughout the season, they should once again dominate the West and strongly compete for another title.

1st Place — Pacific Division

-Jessica Camerato

The defending champions head into training camp looking to silence those doubting how long they can remain top dogs. Make no mistake, the Warriors are a great team but a championship repeat would put the stamp on their greatness. Reigning MVP Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are arguably the best backcourt in the league and the team possesses strong depth at every position. Anything less than defending their crown in the Finals next June should be viewed as a disappointment.

1st Place — Pacific Division

-Lang Greene

The Warriors were historically good last year, and they’re bringing everybody back healthy next season. Assuming that health holds for the full campaign, what possible reason could anybody have for not picking them as the repeat NBA champions? Stephen Curry is the greatest shooter of his generation (and probably ever), and all the other players around him are great in their own roles, from Draymond Green’s “D” to Klay Thompson’s “3’s.” This team is deep, well-coached, unbelievably talented and elite on both ends of the court. That’s a tough team to beat, just as it was a year ago.

1st Place — Pacific Division

-Joel Brigham

Winning back-to-back titles in the NBA is extremely tough. However, I believe the Warriors have a legitimate chance to repeat this season. As I wrote in a recent article on the topic, this was a historically great team last year and they brought just about every key player back. They seem poised to keep improving given their age and increased familiarity with each other and the fact that head coach Steve Kerr is in his second year. Oh, and they’re still incredibly hungry and, quite frankly, pissed off that they’ve been doubted and overlooked (as Draymond Green admitted in our recent Q&A). People haven’t talked about the Warriors much this offseason, but they’re just as scary this year as they were in 2014-15.

1st Place — Pacific Division

-Alex Kennedy

Top of the List

Top Offensive Player: Stephen Curry

Curry is one of the toughest covers in the NBA because of the seemingly endless range on his jumper. He’s also a gifted ball-handler and passer. Play him for the shot and he’ll drive; leave him open for a second and a shot is going up with his quick and accurate release.

Top Defensive Player: Andre Iguodala

Perhaps an unlikely NBA Finals MVP, but Iguodala gave Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star LeBron James as tough a time as anyone on the roster in June. Iguodala is now a seasoned veteran, who may not have the athleticism of his youth, but he is still agile, strong and smart. The offense Iguodala gave the Warriors helped push the team over the top, but it was really his defense that made the biggest difference. Runner up is Draymond Green, who is sized as a small forward but is a difference-maker defensively against bigger players (fours and even fives) and still capable when checking perimeter scorers.

Top Playmaker: Stephen Curry

Curry is such a dangerous threat as a shooter, teams often send multiple defenders his way. Skilled off the dribble with court vision, Curry willingly includes his teammates. He’s not necessarily a true point guard, like Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers, but Curry is still the whole package with his overall offensive arsenal.

Top Clutch Player: Stephen Curry

Curry is the NBA’s reigning regular season MVP for a reason. He’s the guy the Warriors go to for a big basket with the game on the line, and Curry isn’t just a shot taker, but a shot maker.

The Unheralded Player: Shaun Livingston

The Warriors have long-looked for the right backup point guard behind Curry. In Livingston, the team has a lanky post-up guard with great court vision and the desire to get his teammates involved. Livingston uses his length well defensively and can play alongside Curry as needed.

Best New Addition: Jason Thompson

Thompson has been a solid role-player for years on a series of bad Sacramento Kings squads. The Warriors moved David Lee on to the Boston Celtics, the only significant change since a year ago. Lee is craftier than Thompson, but not as strong or as physical. This is easily the best team Thompson has ever been on. He’ll finally have the opportunity to show he can contribute to a winning franchise.

-Eric Pincus

Who We Like

The Splash Brothers: Klay Thompson and Curry are a dynamic offensive backcourt. Curry may be a prolific scorer but Thompson notched 37 points in a single quarter last year. The duo is a problem for the rest of the NBA.

Coach Steve Kerr: As a rookie head coach, Kerr pressed all the right buttons to help his team capture the title. Repeating is no easy task. Kerr will be tested this coming season, but he’s already shown that he knows what he’s doing in the position.

Draymond Green: The poster child for small ball. Kerr’s checkmate move in the Finals was to put Green at center against the Cavaliers.

Shaun Livingston: One of the NBA’s greatest comeback stories after a devastating leg injury with the Clippers that almost ended his career.

-Eric Pincus

Strengths

The Warriors are an offensive force, but high-scoring teams aren’t out of the ordinary in the NBA. What makes Golden State special is they play with pace and put up numbers (finishing second in the NBA in points scored per 100 possessions last season), but they also play hard on the defensive side of the ball. The Warriors have star power, a coach who communicates well and a deep, championship-caliber roster.

-Eric Pincus

Weaknesses

The Warriors deserve all the accolades of winning an NBA title, but would they be in the same position had they played teams with healthy rosters in the playoffs? From the New Orleans Pelicans to the Memphis Grizzlies to the Houston Rockets to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Warriors simply didn’t face a team near full strength. They still have a lot to prove, while fighting complacency that can creep in once a team wins a championship.

-Eric Pincus

The Burning Question

Is a repeat in the cards?

Can the Warriors push through for a second-straight title? They didn’t face the San Antonio Spurs or Clippers last season.  Both teams have improved on paper. Golden State was blessed with health for most of the year, while their opponents were limping through the postseason. The Warriors are about to be seriously tested as reigning champs.

-Eric Pincus

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