Warriors

Warriors 2012-2013 roster analysis

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Warriors 2012-2013 roster analysis

Programming note: Catch the Warriors season opener against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night at 7 p.m., exclusively on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area!

Look, you can pick apart everything about the Warriors -- from Mark Jacksons coaching, to their perceived lack of defensive players, to their overall lack of rebounding, to their improved depth to their blah, blah, blah.Everyone who follows the Warriors knows that none of that matters if Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry arent healthy.What is healthy, you ask? Great question. Who knows how many games Bogut and Curry, both coming off season-ending injuries in 2011-12, must combine to play in order for the Warriors to make the playoffs?Is it 120? 130? More than that? Less?But even if Bogut and Curry are largely healthy, the Warriors still have work to do to end their five-year playoff drought. Yes, its already been that long since We Believe.Theyre going to need second-year shooting guard Klay Thompson to build off his solid rookie season. Theyre going to need rookie Harrison Barnes to provide a needed boost of athleticism on the perimeter. Theyre going to need power forward David Lee to perhaps take a little bit of a numbers hit statistically in exchange for some more dirty work. And theyre going to need Jarrett Jack, Brandon Rush and Carl Landry to provide energy and consistent play off the bench.And, of course, they need Bogut and Curry to be healthy.What the Warriors do have going for them is an intriguing group of players, one thats a touch unconventional and yet more balanced then teams of the recent past.The Warriors certainly have more size than they have had in the past, with the addition of Bogut and the drafting of Festus Ezeli, a legitimate 7-footer with a big frame.Andris Biedrins, who used to be the Warriors starting center until his game went missing, is the teams No. 3 center. That alone shows the Warriors have made a concerted effort to get bigger.The Warriors also have a slew of 3-point shooters. But more than that, they have high-percentage 3-point shooters. Curry is shooting 44 percent for his career from 3-point range. Thompson, as a rookie, shot 41 percent a year ago. Rush is a 41 percent career shooter from beyond the arc and last year shot a career-best 45 percent. Harrison Barnes, who will start at small forward as a rookie, made 48 percent of his 3-pointers in the preseason. Richard Jefferson has hit more than 40 percent of his 3-point shots in each of the past four years.In other words, make no mistake, the 3-point shot is going to be an important part of the Warriors offense.What adds a little twist to the Warriors 3-point shooting is that their two most important big players Lee and Bogut also happen to be good passers.In other words, Jackson has something to work with there.Its hard to say what kind of team pace-wise and style-wise the Warriors will evolve into this season, but its hard to imagine them being consistently uptempo.They dont necessarily have the makeup to be a running team because theyre missing a speedy, push-first point guard and their big men arent exactly the fastest interiors in the league up the court. Thats not to say that the Warriors wont be able to have numbers on occasion, but theyre more likely to turn a quicker-type tempo into 3-point shots in transition than fastbreak dunks or layups.When the Warriors dont have the fastbreak, they will likely need to rely on halfcourt execution on offense. While Bogut and Landry give them more interior scoring, the Warriors still dont have a legitimate back-to-the-basket player.Look for the Warriors to run a lot of their offense through Bogut and Lee, with them looking for shooters coming off screens.Defensively, the Warriors should be improved from a season ago. But again, much of that will come down to Bogut and how many games he plays. Bogut is a space-eater, shot-blocker and charge-taker. But hes got to be on the court for the Warriors to benefit.Last season, the Warriors finished a disappointing 23-43, and were no factor in the Western Conference playoff picture despite Jackson and owner Joe Lacob promising the playoffs.This season there have been no such predictions from the organization. Now, that doesnt mean the Warriors cant make the postseason. It is certainly possible with their roster upgrades.But its impossible to predict anything at this point for Golden State. Because as we know, its all going to come down to health.-------
The Warriors open the 2012-13 regular season on Wednesday night in Phoenix against the Suns. The Warriors have 15 players on their roster. Lets take a look:
Harrison Barnes, 6-8, 210 pounds, SF:
Warriors coach Mark Jackson named Barnes the starting small forward on Monday. Barnes is by no means a finished product, but hell be the most athletic player in the starting lineup.Kent Bazemore, 6-5, 200 pounds, SF:
The Warriors like Bazemore, but he didnt play a ton in the preseason. Hes a defensive specialist and his contract is not fully guaranteed. Theres a chance he could see some playing time for Santa Cruz in the D-League.Andris Biedrins, 7-feet, 240 pounds, C:
Biedrins was banged-up most of preseason, and right now he is considered the No. 3 center on the roster.Andrew Bogut, 7-feet, 260 pounds, C:
Boguts return will likely come sooner rather than later, and theres a chance he could squeeze some playing time into the season-opener. The more games Bogut misses, the less likely the chances of a Warriors playoff season.Stephen Curry, 6-3, 185 pounds, PG:
Curry maintains his right ankle issues from a season ago are behind him. And yet he tweaked the ankle once in the preseason and didnt play after that. Cross your fingers.Festus Ezeli, 7-foot, 270 pounds, C:
Ezeli has been impressive in the preseason, showing a willingness to defend and also a little bit of a post game. Ezeli will start opening night if Bogut cant play.Draymond Green, 6-7, 230 pounds, PF:
Green started the preseason with a left knee injury but began playing more and more as time went by. The question is are there minutes to be had for Green at either small forward or power forward?Jarrett Jack, 6-3, 195 pounds, PG:
The key for the Warriors is for Jack to have a role but not too big of a role. The reason: If Jack has too big of a role, it means that something happened to Curry. In an ideal world, Jack will pay 25 minutes or so, backing up Curry and playing some two guard on top of it. If his minutes are over 30 per game, it likely means Curry suffered an injury.Richard Jefferson, 6-7, 230 pounds, SF:
At this point, Jefferson appears to be the odd man out at small forward behind Barnes and Brandon Rush. But Jefferson has veteran know-how and its not difficult seeing coach Mark Jackson lean on him at times.Charles Jenkins, 6-3, 220 pounds, PG
Jenkins is going to have to fight for minutes this season as he is clearly the No. 3 point guard on the depth chart. That could change if Jack begins to get playing time at shooting guard.Carl Landry, 6-9, 248 pounds, PF:
Landry gives the Warriors a frontcourt scorer off the bench. Landry isnt a prototypical post-up player but he can score in there at times. Hes also got a nice little face-up game and an ability to get to the foul line. Landry should help.David Lee, 6-9, 240 pounds, PF:
Lee almost averaged a double-double last year (20.1 ppg., 9.6 rpg.), but this year those numbers will likely come down. The key for Lee is to become more efficient with less playing time and less shots.Brandon Rush, 6-6, 210 pounds, SF:
Rush will be expected to provide a scoring and energy spark off the bench this year. His role will be even more expanded should Barnes struggle to make the adjustment to the NBA.Klay Thompson, 6-7, 205 pounds, SF:
There are expectations of a breakout year from Thompson, but in reality, he broke out in the second half of last year. In 28 starts after Monta Ellis was traded, Thompson averaged 18.1 points per game. Thompson can score, no doubt. But where he needs to improve is on the defensive end.Jeremy Tyler, 6-10, 260 pounds, PF:
Tyler seems to be in no-mans land right now. If everyone is healthy, there doesnt seem like there will be much of a role for him. Then again, hes still young and only in his second year.

One thing is pretty clear about these Warriors after 2-2 road trip

One thing is pretty clear about these Warriors after 2-2 road trip

The Warriors are not ready to flip their seek-and-destroy switch. Not yet.

They’re closer to being ready than, say, their longtime rivals in Cleveland, but in going 2-2 on this four-game road trip the Warriors showed they are nowhere near full annihilation mode.

They went into Oklahoma City Wednesday night and, in gulping down a 108-91 loss on national TV, came away looking more vulnerable than they have in any game this season. The 17-point loss was their largest margin of defeat and this was awful close to being a wire-to-wire rout.

The Warriors defense, so splendid during the seven-game win streak they took out of town last week, was inconsistent throughout and downright atrocious by their standards as they concluded the trip.

Their offense, which had begun reducing the turnovers to acceptable levels, came apart like a pair of $3 sneakers.

Even their body language, aside from two well-deserved technical fouls, seemed to mostly vacillate between whispers and a whimpers.

“We didn’t have any focus or concentration,” coach Steve Kerr said. “The ‘millennials’ couldn’t lock in tonight. And their coach couldn’t do much either. Long night for us.”

These were not the Warriors who posted seven consecutive double-digit wins, and they’re certainly not the team that found its competitive blowtorches last April. They weren’t visible in this game, nor were they seen for most of this road trip.

This, ahem, regular-season road trip.

That’s the catch. Last April is when the playoffs got underway, and next April is when the 2018 playoffs begin. The time between now and then is for experimenting, fine-tuning and fighting through the monotonous joys of victory -- a factor on vivid display Wednesday night.

“We played with some decent energy,” Stephen Curry said. “We just didn’t play smart.”

“They completely outplayed us, outcoached us,” Kerr said. “It was just their night. It was absolutely their night. They brought the energy, they brought the juice, they brought the intelligence. And we didn’t bring any of that.”

The Warriors entered the game after studying video and stats that illustrated OKC’s ability to disrupt an offense. The Thunder leads the NBA in steals, deflections and -- this one punches the Warriors in the gut -- forcing turnovers.

The Warriors committed 22 giveaways, leading directly to 34 Thunder points.

“Thirty-four points off turnovers, you can’t win like that,” Draymond Green said.

“I’ve got to do a better job of getting them ready to play,” Kerr said. “We have a pretty loose, fun atmosphere around here. That’s great, but there are certain times where it’s like, ‘All right guys. Let’s throw it to our team. Let’s execute the play. Let’s remember the play.’ ”

Kevin Durant bemoaned the “silly turnovers” that were such a factor in the game, blaming it players rather than Kerr and his staff.

“For the most part he can’t control that type of stuff,” said Durant, whose four turnovers were second to Curry’s team-high six. “We’ve got to be better at keeping the ball in our hands, shooting more shots than our opponents and playing defense.”

Added Green: “We were pretty well-prepared. We just played bad.”

That happens to even the best of teams, a category in which the defending champions fit quite snugly. No team, not even the Chicago Bulls of the maniacally competitive Michael Jordan, is able to bring its best for 82 games a season.

The Warriors blew two 17-point leads, one in second quarter and another in the third, in losing at Boston.

They fell behind by 24 in the third quarter to the 76ers before coming back to win in Philadelphia before recovering the next night to submit their best performance of the trip in routing Brooklyn.

And in OKC, against a Thunder team that would seem to get their full attention, the Warriors were outhustled, outsmarted and played with considerably less fury.

“Right now, we’re just in a little bit of rut, where we’ve got to focus,” Kerr said. “And I know we will. We’ve done this many times in the past and bounced back. And we’ll bounce back. We need to lock in and tighten up everything.”

They will, eventually. It could happen next week, or next month, or after the calendar turns to 2018. They’ll turn it on and become the team of terror, punishing all before them. It might be April, though.

This road game indicated some truth, though, which is there will be games over the next four months in which they will lose the battle with themselves.

Durant addresses scuffles with Westbrook after Warriors' loss: 'That's just ball'

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AP

Durant addresses scuffles with Westbrook after Warriors' loss: 'That's just ball'

As you might expect when Kevin Durant returns to Oklahoma City, things got chippy at several moments Wednesday.

Once during the second quarter and again in the third quarter, Durant and former running mate Russell Westbrook could be seen yapping at each other. During the latter incident, the two literally went nose-to-nose, touching foreheads before being sperated.

After the Warriors' 108-91 loss to the Thunder, Durant was asked about the exchanges.

"Man, that's just ball. That's just ball me. He's competitive, I'm competitive. We like to go at it. Both of us. That's just part of the game, so I respect it. I got nothing but love for him. I'm expecting it again when we play them again. All fun and games to me," Durant told reporters.

Despite what the cameras caught, Durant tried to downplay the level of emotions between the two teams on the court.

"Can't let emotion seep into business. Can't do that. So I think on our end, we were just playing our game. They just played better than us tonight. The emotion around the court, around the arena, around the city I'm sure was a little higher than it was on the court. can't let emotion seep in. Just have to play better than that," Durant said.

When a reporter kept pressing about the incidents between Durant and Westbrook, the Warriors forward pushed back.

"Did you watch the game? Or did you watch for the scuffles? The story is about the game. We lost, they kicked our a**, they played a great. You should give them credit for how they played. We should be better. It's not about who's in each other's faces. That stuff is not real. So please, don't believe it. All the fans, they are lying to you. It's all about basketball. They played a great game. We didn't," Durant retorted.

So how did returning to his former home for the first time this season compare to his first trip back last year?

"It was a little better. Nothing like the first. I'm sure everyone in the arena said what they had to say," Durant said.

The next two times Durant and Westbrook meet up, it will be in Oakland (Feb.6 and Feb. 24). The Warriors don't return to Oklahoma City until April 3, 2018.