2015-16 NBA Record: 73-9
Additions: Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder), David West (San Antonio Spurs), Zaza Pachulia (Dallas Mavericks), JaVale McGee (Dallas Mavericks), Patrick McCaw (draft)
Subtractions: Harrison Barnes (Dallas Mavericks), Andrew Bogut (traded to Dallas Mavericks), Festus Ezeli (Portland Trail Blazers), Brandon Rush (Minnesota Timberwolves), Marreese Speights (Los Angeles Clippers), Leandro Barbosa (Phoenix Suns)
Projected Starting Line-up:
PG – Stephen Curry
SG – Klay Thompson
SF – Kevin Durant
PF – Draymond Green
C – Zaza Pachulia
Golden State have gone from likeable to villainous with one move when they signed Kevin Durant in the offseason. As if they weren’t elite enough already, they had to go out and sign someone who’s well in their prime and is still looking for his first championship. Last year, the Warriors won an NBA-record 73 regular season games and looked to cap off the season with a Finals win when they lost 3 straight games to the Cleveland Cavaliers and eventually lost the series. This new All-Star line-up seems to be a lock for the 2016-17 NBA Championship, but the landscape of the league can change in an instant.
Kevin Durant has become the new bad guy in the NBA but he did what he thought was his best shot at winning that elusive championship. Durant is one of the best scorers in the league and the idea of him and Curry doing a pick-n-roll possesses many challenges for defenses. Durant can score both in isolation and in the post and like his new teammate, when he’s hot, he’s near impossible to stop. KD also showed versatility on defense in last year’s playoffs and his addition makes Golden State’s defense menacing. Stephen Curry is the best shooter in the NBA and you can make an argument that he’s one of the best scorers, but someone else on his team may have something to say about that. Curry’s play-making ability is among the league’s best and having Durant on his team will certainly see an uptick in his assist numbers. Draymond Green is one of the league’s best versatile defenders with his ability to defend all five positions. He can hang with smaller, quicker guards, shutdown guys like Lebron and hold his own against bigs in the post. It’s rare to find a defensive player like that. Green’s also one of the best passers in his position and is a threat to produce a triple-double every night. It’s hard to believe that Klay Thompson, the NBA’s second best shooter, is Golden State’s fourth best player. He’s tough to stop when coming around screens and on defense, he can lock up his opponenet with ease. Thompson’s role this year will be interesting, but he’s expected to be a knockdown shooter whose open thanks to Curry and Durant drawing defenders. Andre Iguodala has been a solid bench player for the Warriors and although the stats don’t show it, his impact as part of the “Death Line-up” hasn’t gone unnoticed. He’s a strong defensive player in late-game situations and presents a great locker room presence. Zaza Pachulia had a nice year in Dallas last season and is a consistent and durable body that will replace Andrew Bogut. David West will contribute from the bench with his physicality and experience and he’ll be a veteran in the Warriors’ locker room. Shaun Livingston possesses one of the best mid-range games in the league and is a great mismatch when he goes up against other point guards.
There’s not a lot of weaknesses with this Golden State side. They’ll be one of the best offenses in the NBA, and maybe in history. They have one of the best shooting teams that’s ever stepped on the court and if there is a weakness, it would be whether the frontcourt can do its job. Then again, they won’t have to do much when Durant, Curry and Thompson are catching fire or when Steve Kerr utilises his Death Line-up. Another weakness may be the chemistry of this team down the stretch, especially in playoff time, but as shown in the pre-season, they look really good this year and may be Lebron’s biggest threat to date.
Prediction: 1st in Pacific Division