Warriors

Warriors who could be dark-horse candidates for 2019-20 NBA awards

Warriors who could be dark-horse candidates for 2019-20 NBA awards

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

Over the last couple seasons, as the Warriors became an historically great team, they began to lose the favor of NBA Awards voters who were looking for players and coaches that did not have the same incredible support around them. There also was a sense of voter fatigue, as voters perhaps became a bit bored casting ballots for a Warriors squad that had been so dominant for multiple years. 

But as the dynamic of the league has changed, and the Warriors are no longer prohibitive favorites to win the title after a massive roster overhaul, some of Golden State's household names are now being thrust back into the NBA Awards conversation for next season. Earlier this week, we examined the MVP, Defensive Player and Coach of the Year preseason NBA Awards watch lists. Now, let's take a look at some Warriors who -- if they elevated their games -- could become darkhorse candidates for NBA Awards this coming season: 

Most Improved Player: Kevon Looney

The stars are aligned for Looney to take a major leap in playing time and production this season, and with that could potentially come some awards attention. 

Looney has already played four seasons in the NBA, including some high-profile playoff runs, and yet will only be 23 years old to start the season. The Warriors prioritized bringing back Looney for the next couple years in order to see him grow into the player they think he is on the brink of becoming. Last season, Looney averaged 6.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in just under 19 minutes a game. 

With Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins no longer with the team, and Klay Thompson injured, there will be plenty of opportunities for Looney to shoot the ball. He only attempted four shots per game last season, and converted a fantastic 62.5 percent of them. If his playing time is raised to somewhere between 25-30 minutes per game, it's not difficult to envision Looney shooting 10-plus shots per game next season. If he is able to mix in some 3-point shooting into his arsenal and get to the line more often, the potential is there for Looney to become a 12 to 15-point scorer, while collecting eight to 10 rebounds on a nightly basis. 

If he is able to raise his game to that level, and couple it with his consistently strong defense, then you can assuredly assume his name will be in the conversation for the Most Improved Player in the NBA next season.

Sixth Man of the Year: Alec Burks 

Over the last five seasons, the Warriors have had a surefire Sixth Man of the Year candidate in Andre Iguodala. His exceptional all-around game and high basketball IQ were highly regarded around the league, but his modest scoring averages kept him from convincing voters to give him the award. This season, the Warriors will have a quintessential bench scorer in Alec Burks, and if he can approach the type of numbers he was putting up in Utah a few seasons ago, he may have an outside chance of entering the conversation. 

Burks has not had a season in which he has averaged more than 14 points per game, but if there ever was an opportunity to do so, it will be this coming year. The Warriors have a gaping hole at the wing position, and a void in scoring off the bench. If Burks can come in and fill the wing spot for about 25 minutes per game, he will have plenty of opportunities to attack on the offensive end. Staying healthy has been an issue for Burks throughout his career, but if he can put a full season together, the chances will be there for him to shine.

Rookie of the Year: Jordan Poole or Eric Paschall

This NBA award is a longshot for the Warriors' rookies, not because they lack the talent to be considered, but simply because they will not have the same opportunity as other top picks. 

[RELATED: What's Dubs rookie Poole's nickname? Fellow draftees guess]

The teams picking at the top of the draft typically are void of top-tier talent on their rosters, so their respective selections are in a better position to get more playing time and on-court responsibilities. Poole and Paschall are joining a team that still has Steph Curry, Draymond Green, D'Angelo Russell and, eventually, a returning Thompson. To be able to crack the rotation and play enough to be considered for hardware at the end of the season, Golden State's rookies will have to blossom early and impress right off the bat. 

Instead of competing for the Rookie of the Year award, Poole and Paschall could instead set their sights on another lofty goal: being selected to an All-Rookie team. Minutes at the wing position and backup guard spot are up for grabs, so if Poole or Paschall can play well enough to earn meaningful minutes, they will have the benefit of the Golden State spotlight to jump into the All-Rookie conversation.

Seven records Warriors stars Steph Curry, Draymond Green could break

Seven records Warriors stars Steph Curry, Draymond Green could break

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

The juggernaut Warriors of the last five years are no longer, but some key star holdovers have a chance to reach some NBA records this season.

With the departures of Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and the injury to Klay Thompson, the playmaking and scoring for the Warriors will mostly fall on the shoulders of Steph Curry, Draymond Green and newly acquired D'Angelo Russell. So as the construction of the team changed dramatically, the Warriors now potentially face a struggle to play the same suffocating defense most have come accustomed to.

Instead, they will rely on a high-powered offense and individual key defensive players to lead the charge. Here are some records that they could break this season.

Most 3-pointers in a regular season: Steph Curry 402 (2015-16)

The biggest key to Curry toppling his own historic 3-point season will be staying healthy and in the lineup. Curry has not played over 70 games in a season since 2016-17, and played 79 games when he shattered the season record.

Since the Warriors might have to outscore teams in shootouts with their defense less reliable, Curry will be able to fire away with abandon. Curry hit 354 3-pointers in just 69 games last season. If he played 10 extra games and maintained his average 3-point rate, he would have broken his record.

So what else could help Curry break 402? Well, just keep reading ...

3-point attempts per game: James Harden 13.2 (2018-19)

When Curry made 402 3-pointers, he averaged 11.2 attempts per game. Last season, he averaged a career-high 11.7 3-point attempts per game. Shooting two more 3s per game is within reason, and definitely a welcome proposition for all Warriors fans. 

Most consecutive games with 5+ 3-pointers made: James Harden 12 (2018-19)

The more Steph shoots, the more he makes. Harden might be watching a few of his milestones surpassed this season.

Most 3-pointers attempted in a game: Klay Thompson 24 (Oct. 29, 2018)

Most 3-pointers made in a game: Klay Thompson 14 (Oct. 29, 2018)

Curry already jokingly (probably) proclaimed that he would shoot 22 3-pointers on opening night against the Clippers. So would you be surprised if he had a few games this season in which he launched endlessly from long range? Unfortunately for Klay, he will have to sit idly on the bench for most of the season while Curry goes after his record.

[RELATED: Steph Curry primed for another MVP season]

Most steals in a game: Larry Kenon 11 (Dec. 26, 1976), Kendall Gill 11 (April 3, 1999)

The defensive category belongs to Draymond Green, and after signing a $100 million extension and getting into the best shape of his life, he is primed for a breakout season. If last playoffs are any indicator of how he will play next season, then there are several defensive records and milestones that can be within his sights.

On Feb. 10, 2017, Green recorded a triple-double in Memphis. But it was not just any triple-double, it included 10 steals, one away from the single-game record. There will be many games next season that he will carry the team defensively, so perhaps he approaches the record again.

200 steals plus 100 blocks in one season: Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Scottie Pippen

In 2016-17, Green set a career-high 154 steals and blocked 106 shots -- down from his previous career-high of 113 the year prior. Remaining healthy and in the lineup for most of the season will be imperative for Green to even have a chance at approaching a 200-100 season.

It still is a long shot for Draymond to reach those totals, but when he is in shape, motivated and playing with fire, there's always a chance. 

Kevin Durant rocks Nets jersey for first time since leaving Warriors

Kevin Durant rocks Nets jersey for first time since leaving Warriors

Slowly but surely, Kevin Durant is moving on from the Warriors. 

After electing to sign with the Brooklyn Nets in free agency. Durant expressed his feelings on his time in the Bay, including the elation of winning the NBA Finals and the belief that he never would be accepted in the same way Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala were.

The next step in Durant's quest to move on from the Warriors came Thursday when he donned the black and white of Brooklyn for the first time in a promotional shoot.

Seeing KD rocking a No. 7 Nets jersey is ... a little weird.

Those jerseys are clean, though,

Durant won't see the floor this season as he continues to rehab from the ruptured Achilles he suffered in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Once Durant is back to 100 percent, he'll join Kyrie Irving and a band of young Nets trying to take over the Eastern Conference.

[RELATED: Steph fires back at KD after criticism of Warriors offense]

As for the Warriors, they remade their roster after Durant's exit and will be looking to go back to their roots with a ball-movement centric attack that lets Curry, new addition D'Angelo Russell and Thompson -- when he returns from his torn ACL -- torment opposing defenses.