Warriors will have better record than Lakers, John Hollinger predicts

Warriors will have better record than Lakers, John Hollinger predicts

The Lakers beat the Warriors by 22 points in the preseason opener last Saturday at Chase Center.

The Lakers are considered legitimate title contenders this season, while the majority of the basketball world isn't giving the Dubs a chance.

John Hollinger of The Athletic is in the minority.

The former Memphis Grizzlies executive believes the Warriors will enter the playoffs as the No. 4 seed in the West (with a record of 51-31), and the Lakers will be No. 5 (at 50-32).

Yes, this means Golden State would host Los Angeles in the first round.

Hollinger believes the Warriors' downfall has been exaggerated, as he explained in his Pacific Division preview:

Anyone projecting Golden State to miss the playoffs needs to rethink that take. Arguably they still have the league’s best offensive player (Steph Curry) and the league’s best defensive player (Draymond Green).

Don’t sleep on this team if it gets off to a sluggish start. Once the Warriors land a buyout guy or two and [Klay] Thompson (hopefully) comes back, they could emerge as a postseason terror once again, despite a middling playoff seed.

With LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers have an awesome foundation, and unlike last summer they actually imported some decent help in free agency.

L.A.’s superstar combo assures a playoff spot, but to advance deeper requires more work. This roster still has considerable shortcomings, and recent front office decisions don’t inspire confidence that they’ll be fixed.

Hollinger thinks the Warriors are a lock to make the playoffs. The depth is a major concern, but if Curry, Draymond and D'Angelo Russell stay healthy all season, it's hard to disagree.

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But if any of those three miss an extended stretch of games, the season very well could come to an end in mid-April.

The Lakers, meanwhile, are deeper than the Dubs and should get back to the postseason for the first time since 2013. An injury to LeBron or Davis, however, could derail things in a hurry.

Do these teams really need to play each other three more times in the preseason? Can the regular season just get here already?

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Warriors list three players as probable for season opener vs. Clippers


Warriors list three players as probable for season opener vs. Clippers

With opening night just two days away, the Warriors finally are starting to get healthy.

After practice Tuesday, the team announced that Kevon Looney (hamstring), Alec Burks (ankle) and Marquese Chriss (left toe infection) are probable against the Clippers.

"Last couple days, getting a lot of work in. Been able to play some 5-on-5, so feeling good," Looney told reporters. "I tweaked my hamstring -- second time doing it in a couple weeks -- so just wanted to play it safe, and make sure I was 100 percent before I got back out there and play.

"Feel great now, feel comfortable on the court -- trying to get my wind under me."

It's unclear at this point if the 23-year-old -- who missed all five preseason games -- or Chriss will start at center.

Looney revealed that the first hamstring tweak occurred during a summer workout.

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"I was ready for training camp, I was feeling good the first couple days," he explained. "I just aggravated it so we wanted to be safe."

Burks, meanwhile, missed the entire preseason slate of games after rolling his ankle in practice the day before the opener.

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Warriors predictions: How new trio of stars could finish statistically

Warriors predictions: How new trio of stars could finish statistically

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 Warriors are on the cusp of a new era of basketball at Chase Center. Led by familiar faces in Steve Kerr, Steph Curry, Draymond Green (and from the sideline Klay Thompson) the Warriors are about to embark on a season that will feature a youthful roster with a new look.

With a revamped cast of characters will come different team strategy and chemistry that should lead to bigger responsibilities for key Warriors.

Here are some statistical predictions for these players:

Steph Curry

Over 32 points per game
Over 14 three-point attempts per game

It has been well-chronicled how much the Warriors will rely on Steph to lead them this season, and with that will come an increase in usage on the court. Curry's season-high scoring average was 30.1 points per game in his unanimous MVP season of 2015-16.

That season, he attempted a little over 20 field goals a game and 11 three-pointers a game. I expect both of those numbers to rise, especially his attempts from long distance.

Last season Curry took a career-high 11.7 shots per game from deep, but that included him sharing the ball with Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. With an increase in volume, opposing defense's attention and more energy exertion could come with a less glossy shooting efficiency, especially from within the arc.

But if the Warriors have any chance at "surprising" folks this season, Steph is going to have to lead the charge and insert himself back into the MVP conversation. These numbers should do that.

Draymond Green

Over 33 percent three-point percentage

Since the 2015-16 campaign in which Green shot a career-high three-point percentage of nearly 39 percent, his ability from long-range has faltered.

ver the past three seasons, Draymond has not surpassed 31 percent from deep, which has allowed defenses to sag off of him and dare him to shoot. This season he will have the green light to shoot more, which should help his confidence to fire away even when his shot is not falling earlier in the game.

It is highly unlikely that Green ever repeats his 39 percent mark, but shooting over 33 percent would be enough to keep a defense more honest, and allow more spacing for the offense. 

D'Angelo Russell

Over 23 points per game
Over 38 percent three-point percentage

Like Curry, the Warriors will be relying on Russell to put up points and lead their offense.

The staggering between Curry and Russell's minutes will help him get the rhythm and volume he needs to reach a new career-high in points per game, surpassing the 21.1 he scored last season with the Nets.

On the flip side, when Curry and Russell share the floor, D'Angelo will have more open shots than he has ever experienced before in his young NBA career, which in turn should be able to raise his three-point percentage over his career-high from last season, 36.9 percent.

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The ingredients are in place for the 23-year-old to shine with his new team.