Published November 20, 2014
Talk around the Golden State Warriors last season was a trip to the playoffs.
First-time coach Mark Jackson said he expected the Warriors to be in the playoffs and that was before he got a hold of his team. He said that as an ESPN analyst just a day after he was hired by Golden State.
Anyone remember them in the playoffs last season?
Of course not.
The Warriors haven't made the postseason since that epic run in 2007 when, as the No. 8 seed, they upset the Dallas Mavericks.
So this season, there are no bold predictions.
"We're not an organization that has a history of winning each year, so it's almost that I'd rather go do it and let the results speak for themselves as opposed to saying it's going to happen," general manager Bob Myers told CSNBayArea.com.
Myers may not want to talk playoffs, but the postseason is a realistic goal for the Warriors.
After the team shipped high-scoring Monta Ellis to the Bucks last season, Andrew Bogut will mind the middle for the Warriors. He has injury history and so does the cornerstone of the franchise, guard Stephen Curry.
He missed most of last season with a right ankle injury and there is a concern it could be a lingering problem. He aggravated the ankle late in the preseason, although, it doesn't seem to be a big concern to Curry.
"As long as I take the progression slowly and do what I have to do and stay healthy, I should be in a good position" Curry told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I'm not really worried about that, and I don't think they are, either."
Alright, if no one is worried, this is a pretty talented roster.
David Lee is a constant double-double guy and Klay Thompson emerged as the team's two guard. He averaged 12.5 points per game last season, but the numbers were better when he got starter's minutes.
First-round pick Harrison Barnes is battling former bench staple Brandon Rush for the starting small forward job. Whoever loses will be counted on as a bench contributor and there are plenty of them.
This is a playoff-caliber roster, even if no one involved wants to discuss it.
2011-12 Results: 23-43, fourth in Pacific; Missed playoffs.
ADDITIONS: F Harrison Barnes, G Jarrett Jack, F Carl Landry, C Festus Ezeli, F Draymond Green.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE:
PG- Stephen Curry SG- Klay Thompson SF- Brandon Rush PF- David Lee C- Andrew Bogut
KEY RESERVES: F Harrison Barnes, F Richard Jefferson, G Jarrett Jack, F Carl Landry, C Andris Biedrins, C Festus Ezeli, F Draymond Green, F Jeremy Tyler, G Charles Jenkins
FRONTCOURT: Whoever wins the small forward job aside, the Warriors frontcourt is perceived as slow, but Lee is a great athlete. He is a terror on the glass and running the floor.
Bogut is injury-prone, no question. When healthy, he is one of the game's three best defensive centers. He's a shot-blocker, helper, charge-taker and great defensive rebounder. Bogut should benefit from not being the main offensive weapon.
The hunch here is that Rush wins the starting forward job. He had a career season last season and upped his play in almost every way imaginable. Rush became a strong defender and rebounder on top of his great shooting.
BACKCOURT: Curry is a great shooter and gifted scorer. He's not a penetrating point guard, but he can stop quickly and raise over defenders with almost limitless range. His ankle is a gigantic question mark and he is not a conventional point. Curry is not a very good facilitator of the offense and is not so much for the defense thing.
Thompson stunned some with his play in his rookie season. He scored at an impressive rate and shot 3s at even better one. Thompson shot 41 percent from beyond the arc. That's a big number and makes this the best shooting back court in the world. Thompson doesn't do much else. He averaged two boards, two assists and almost two turnovers per game.
BENCH: The loser of the small-forward battle will anchor a really strong bench.
Jack started 39 games last season for the New Orleans Hornets and averaged a stout 15.6 PPG. He is one of the best backup guards in the league and the Warriors should be grateful to have him.
Landry was also a double-figure scorer for the Hornets in 2011-12.
Biedrins was once one of the emerging centers in the NBA, but putrid free- throw shooting has crippled his once promising career. He shot 11 percent from the foul line last season. It's a shame watching this happen. Biedrins could lose out on the backup job if rookie Ezeli takes the job.
Jefferson is an interesting player at this point in his career. He's probably still a better player than either of the two small forward options and there's a decent chance he's in there for crunch time. Jefferson has become almost strictly a jump-shooter.
Green is a ball player, plain and simple. What he lacks in athleticism or any other buzz words for scouts, he has instincts and is simply a solid basketball player.
COACHING: Jackson has always been considered a coaching candidate since the day he retired and went to the broadcasting booth. Last season's faux pas about predicting the playoffs aside, Jackson did well a season ago considering the injuries and never getting a chance to see Bogut.
Jackson has the talent now, but he and Myers are practically falling all over themselves in an effort to temper expectations. Too late, fellas.
OUTLOOK: There is ample talent for a trip to the playoffs. The Warriors have a great starting lineup and suitable depth. The Pacific Division is top heavy with the two Los Angeles teams, but the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings shouldn't hinder Golden State in the standings.
The Warriors are in the hunt with Utah, Dallas and Minnesota for the last two playoff spots.
Just don't tell the Warriors' brass that.
"Out here, they're trying to get me to make a promise or to say, 'Yes, we will be in the playoffs,'" Myers said to the Sporting News. "I am too cautious for that. We have the opportunity to make the playoffs. But things will need to go right."