Top 5 takeaways from Warriors' first 10 games of 2016-17 season
State of the Warriors
The criticism was immediate and frequent, the anticipation immense. And now the world is getting a look at the roster the Warriors assembled for the express purpose of rolling downhill to a championship.
We’re 10 games into the season, and what do we know? What do we think we know? Here are five takeaways from the first 10 games of the reloaded Warriors...
5) Iguodala is off his game, and it appears to be physical
Though his shot came and went, the Iguodala we’ve seen for the past three seasons was a beast in transition, typically exploding toward the rim for spectacular dunks.
The guy we’ve seen through the first three weeks of the season has much more often played in downshift mode, and exhibited very little bounce. His knees have required consistent maintenance for years now, so maybe they’re bothering him. The 13-year veteran has yet to make excuses.
It’s a contract year, though, so he has financial incentive to bring his “A” game. It’s too soon to conclude he can’t but not too soon to wonder if he’ll be able to.
4) Draymond is taking his image rehabilitation to heart
After blasting out of the blocks in 2016 with a list of foul-ups, bleeps and blunders, the power forward/center appears to have learned a few things about the maturation process.
He’s still Draymond, which is fine, even if it has made him the victim of an officiating double standard. He needs his internal flame, and so do the Warriors. It’s part of his makeup, too essential to be sacrificed – even if it results in the occasional T.
Though he continues to speak his mind, he has dialed back the bluster. It comes across as a more sincere acknowledgement of his teammates as well as a more focused view of big picture.
3) Rim protection is a very real problem
There’s not getting around this truth: The offseason losses of Andrew Bogut and Ezeli, each of whom was active at the rim, hurts. The Warriors, even after signing center Zaza Pachulia, knew this would be a weakness and hoped they could compensate by utilizing Green and Durant to protect the rim. This is why JaVale McGee was invited to camp.
Green leads the team in blocks with 16, and Durant is second with 14. No one else, including Pachulia and McGee, has more than three.
Though shot-blocking is a key element in protecting the paint, what’s more important is “shot discouragement,” something Bogut often cited. There is little of that now, as game after game, player after player, opponents venture fearlessly into the paint trying to get to the rim.
They’re not always successful, but they believe they can find easy money. And sometimes they come away wealthy.
2) Bench usage is dramatically different from previous years
Upon arriving in 2014, Kerr didn’t take long to define roles for reserves. His primary backup guards were Shaun Livingston (point) and Leandro Barbosa (shooting). His primary forwards were Andre Iguodala (small) and David Lee or Marreese Speights (power). His primary centers were Festus Ezeli or Speights.
Of that group, often deployed as a unit, only Livingston and Iguodala remain.
Realizing the new roster is more explosive among the starters but less so among reserves, Kerr opted out of a five-man backup squad. He is staggering rotations to blend starters with reserves. If Curry and Green aren’t sharing time with three reserves, Klay Thompson and Durant are.
This may or may not change, as Kerr continues to tinker. But there is no sign of a five-man bench mob.
1) Kevin Durant is a phenomenal player. No really, phenomenal
While this is not news, there was a small amount of concern over how the four-time scoring champion would fit in with a Warriors team that without him led the NBA in scoring in each of the past two seasons.
Durant is shooting 56.2 percent overall, and his true shooting percentage is 66.8, second only to Stephen Curry (68.2) among the league’s top 40 scorers. Coach Steve Kerr has been vocal, urging Durant to be aggressive. So have Durant’s teammates.
Rest easy. Durant is a dramatic upgrade over Harrison Barnes in every conceivable way – scoring, defending, rebounding and passing.
When shortcomings do surface, such as turnovers – Durant has had three four-turnover games – or defensive lapses it tends to be a clear case of unfamiliarity with his new teammates.