Many Western Conference teams have added quality players this summer, making the road to the playoffs harder than before.
Meanwhile, for the Warriors, they unfortunately dealt with an offseason of upheaval and turnover. For a team known for revolutionizing the NBA with their high-powered offense, the Warriors now face a tough task ahead of recreating their past success after key departures and injuries.
Last season, the Warriors were second in the NBA in scoring at 117.7 points per game, trailing the Milwaukee Bucks. With the loss of Kevin Durant (26 points per game) and Klay Thompson for most of the season (21.5 points), the team will have to make up for a significant deficit in scoring.
DeMarcus Cousins averaged 16.3 points per game in 30 regular-season games, however during that stretch, other stars sacrificed their point totals to accommodate him, so making up for that point total is somewhat of a wash when accounting for the others full-season statistics. The combination of Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Quinn Cook, Jonas Jerebko and the other now-former bench pieces accounted for roughly 20 points per game.
So while rough and inexact, the Warriors to start next season will have to make up for players that totaled about 70 points per game. How will they do that?
It starts with the remaining stars. Steph Curry should not be counted on to score much more than his 27.3 points per game from last season. It was the second-highest total of his career, trailing the 30.1 he scored during his unanimous MVP season.
The amount of attention that Curry will draw from defenses should keep him somewhere in his normal scoring range. Draymond Green, on the other hand, should be fully prepared to increase his scoring output. After putting up 7.4 points last regular season, Green stepped up his fitness and overall game by scoring 13.3 points per game in the postseason.
Draymond's career-high in regular-season scoring average came in 2015-16 when he totaled 14 points per game. The Warriors will need him to approach the next regular season with that same sort of aggression and confidence on the offensive end.
The addition of D'Angelo Russell is a major factor in making up for any offensive deficit. Russell averaged a career-high 21.1 points last season, and the Warriors hope that he can repeat that or even better it in their fast-paced, efficient offensive system. If Russell can average 22 or 23 points per game, then combined with Draymond's potential scoring increase, the team will have 30 points taken away from the 70 point deficit between two players.
Making up for the remaining 40 points will be difficult, and it starts with one holdover from last season, Kevon Looney. After scoring 6.3 points per game last season, Looney will now have a larger role and expected to put up more shots. He is an underrated and capable scorer, who might even add a three-point shot to his arsenal next season. If he could raise his output to 10-12 points on average, that would be a helpful boost.
Adding Willie Cauley-Stein, Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III to the mix has the potential to make up for a good amount of the missing offense. Cauley-Stein averaged nearly 12 points per game last season, and there is no reason to believe he will not be able to do the same when coupled with great pick-and-roll initiators in Curry, Green and Russell.
Burks is a natural scorer, and when right is able to put up double-digit points every night. If he were to average 12 points per game and shoot the three-ball at a rate of 37 percent or better, the Warriors will benefit greatly. Robinson III has not averaged more than six points per game in his career, so it is not fair to expect him to exceed that total.
His long-range shooting suffered considerably last season, but he was able to shoot about 39 percent from deep over the three seasons combined before that. If Robinson III can return to form, six points per game next season would definitely be welcome to the team.
With Looney's increase of about four points, and the three new free agents dropping about 30 points per game, the Warriors have now made up for nearly the whole deficit they had lost from last season. If the team can get contributions from Alfonzo McKinnie, Omari Spellman, Jacob Evans III, Jordan Poole, Eric Paschall or Alen Smailagic, to make up for inevitable injuries or underachievement from the rotation players, then their offense should be humming as always.
With the expectation that Klay Thompson will return at some point later in the season, the Warriors should be ready to compete with the best teams in the NBA on the offensive end.
Now about the defense ...