NBA Season Wrap Up: Golden State Warriors
Golden State Warriors:
The Warriors were the darlings of this year's NBA playoffs, the team that everyone loved watching and went deeper than pretty much everyone anticipated. Stephen Curry, who apparently didn't like being passed over in the All-Star voting, emerged in the second half of the season and in the playoffs as the best shooter in the world and one of the most entertaining players around.
This year's playoffs were the team's coming out party. The Warriors were good during the season, but now people around the country and on other teams' coaching staffs know just how dangerous they are. That means they need to get better next year to avoid being a one hit wonder.
While they were exciting to watch and lethal at times, the Warriors were exposed when their jump shots weren't falling. Curry set the single season record for three pointers made this year, which is great but it means that they're shooting a lot of threes. It's clearly a strength, but you cannot rely on the long ball. They need to be able to score in the paint more and they have players that can do it, it just needs to become a priority in order to make the long-range game even more effective.
David Lee and Andrew Bogut can provide those higher percentage looks, but Mark Jackson and the coaching staff need to take an active role in ensuring it happens. Lee likes to float around the perimeter at times; he can consistently hit an outside shot, but he can also be effective closer to the basket.
Bogut, if he can ever get back to 100%, has the size and skill to get easy baskets down low. But that's a big if. Bogut played in 32 games this year and when he did play in the playoffs he wasn't moving particularly well but still managed to be a positive contributor. If he can channel the 2009-10 Bogut, the one that averaged over 15 points per game, it will open up the rest of the floor for the team's deadly shooters.
The Warriors have some personnel decisions to make. Jarrett Jack is an unrestricted free agent who has likely played himself into a job as a starter for another team. Jack came off the bench for the Warriors and allowed Curry to play shooting guard for stretches. That small ball lineup worked well for the Warriors throughout the year so the front office needs to decide whether it is worth it to pay starting point guard money to their sixth man.
In addition to Jack, Dwayne Jones will also be an unrestricted free agent. Andris Biedrins has an early termination option and Carl Landry, Brandon Rush, and Richard Jefferson have player options for next year.
The Warriors are young, talented and, with slight philosophical tweaks, can be better next year. The big issue for them, though, is health. Curry and Bogut must prove that they can play a full season and David Lee needs to return to full strength. If all of that happens, they'll make a playoff run next year too but it won't come as a surprise to anyone this time.