Winning their third NBA Championship in four years, last season saw a potential Golden State Warriors dynasty become a reality. Sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Warriors continue to dominate the NBA. Beating a good Houston Rockets team in seven games, Steve Kerr’s team overcame their biggest obstacle in the Western Conference finals, before defeating a one-man team in the NBA finals. However, not everything went their way during the regular season. Winning 58 games would be amazing for most teams, but this only carried the Warriors to the second seed in the conference. Running away with their own division, the star-studded Warriors finished behind the Rockets, with Houston winning 65 games. This proves that the Warriors do have weaknesses and the regular season doesn’t always go to plan.
Countdown to NBA Tip-Off: Golden State Warriors Season Preview
What Worked Last Season
When you have as much talent as this Warriors team has, a lot will work for you as a group. Leading the league in points per game, fastbreak points, assists, field-goal efficiency, and basically every other shooting statistic, this Warriors team could beat you in a lot of ways. The Warriors biggest weakness was themselves. Kerr’s team often looked bored against weaker opposition, causing them to sleepwalk into close games. However, when you have four All-Stars on your roster, recovering isn’t too hard. Ranking No.1 in third-quarter points, the Warriors outplayed everyone to begin the second half.
Defensively, this team excelled. Leading the league in blocks, top-10 in steals and top-five in defensive boards. When they focused, the Warriors were almost unbeatable. All teams could do was hope they caught Kevin Durant on a day he was thinking about Twitter or perhaps pray that Draymond Green was ejected. To sum up, the Warriors are hard to beat and very talented, an awful combo the rest of the NBA has to deal with.
What Needs Improvement
When you win 58 games and a championship, you’re obviously doing something right. The Warriors will likely win around 60 games this season, but improvements can always be made. Struggling to score points in the paint, the Warriors should look to improve in this area, with teams like OKC, Houston, and Utah all starting quality big men. Now, this may come as a surprise, but the Warriors are an awful first quarter team. Ranked 29th in opposition points given up, the Warriors often struggle out the gate. This team struggles to take care of the ball. Ranked 23rd in turnovers per game, Golden State would do well to improve in this area, especially come playoff time.
Now, this next one is tricky. This is going to sound unfair, but it’s difficult to find fault in a team this good. It’s this simple. The Warriors need to stay healthy. If the likes of Steph Curry, Durant, and Green stay healthy, this Warriors team is next to unbeatable come playoff time. However, if one or more of these players goes down, this team is in trouble. The Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder are all waiting for the Warriors to slip up.
The off-season saw NBA fans begin to hate the Warriors even more. Re-signing Kevin Durant was annoying but things got even worse. All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins signed a one-year deal, meaning the Warriors officially have an All-Star starting five. Has the league been ruined? Maybe, but the Warriors are just making moves that make them better. It’s up to the rest of the league to work harder and catch up. Cousins won’t be healthy until at least January, so this could be seen as a risky move. However, with Cousins signing such a cap friendly deal, it was a risk worth taking.
The Warriors also brought back big man Kevon Looney, this was a good move, with Looney signing a league minimum deal. Another addition was forward Jonas Jerebko, another solid move, with Jerebko shooting an incredible 53 percent on corner threes. Jerebko is a perfect fit for an already stacked Warriors team. Patrick McCaw also returned and will look to bounce back after injury ruining his second season with the team.
In the draft, the Warriors selected Cinncinati shooting guard Jacob Evans. Despite being the 28th pick, don’t be surprised if the Warriors can get something out of Evans in his rookie year. Jordan Bell is a perfect example of what this team can do with picks from the later rounds.
2018-19 Season Prediction
We all know this Warriors team is good and they will likely go all the way again. The Rockets have gotten worse and the LeBron James led Lakers are still young and unprepared for the playoffs. OKC and Utah will be outsiders looking in, but all four teams do pose a threat if Golden State enters the playoffs wounded. Durant and Curry will be their usual MVP caliber selves. Klay Thompson and Green should play their usual complementary roles. Cousins is the wildcard, he will either aid or derail the Warriors season, with his unpredictable play. Steve Kerr and his team are set up to make it to June, making what would be their fifth finals appearance in five years.
OAKLAND, CA – JUNE 12: Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors celebrates after being named Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 129-120 in Game 5 to win the 2017 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 12, 2017 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)