The 2013 Golden State Warriors roster looks pretty different.
No more Carl Landry or Jarrett Jack leading the second unit. No more hefty, unpleasant contracts weighing the payroll down. The last remaining piece of the 2007 “We Believe” squad has officially been dealt away in Andris Biedrins. It’s a new era in the Bay Area, and the Warriors are looking to take over with a fresh (in a way) second unit and a new defensive stopper in Andre Iguodala.
So, what’s the record going look like this year? First, we’ll take stock of the fresh roster and come up with a record prediction, then I’ll go over the Pacific Division in detail.
2012-13 Record: 47-35, 2nd in the Pacific Division
Golden State’s roster has been pretty much revamped entirely except for four of the starting five from last year, with more of a defensive focus than Golden State has seen in recent memory. The difficulty in the schedule this year hasn’t changed terribly from last year, though it’s notable that this team has officially put itself on the national radar. They’re playing a record 17 nationally-televised games this season, which means more spotlight and more pressure. Not to mention the heightened pressure from the fans due to the surprising success the team saw last season.
That being said, there’s every reason to believe that they can handle the pressure. Key additions Andre Iguodala, Toney Douglas and Jermaine O’Neal all have experience in cities with teams that receive a lot of scrutiny (notably Iguodala, since Philadelphia is home to some of the most rabid and passionate fans across all sports).
Stephen Curry and company showed that they could handle it all last year, shocking the league in the season and the playoffs. Additionally, they split season records with some of the NBA’s top squads, going 1-1 against the reigning champion Miami Heat and Oklahoma City, just to name a couple.
To stack onto that, the roster has only improved.
Douglas, while not the offensive spark and ball-handler Jack was, is a serviceable backup point guard and a definite step up defensively.
Jermaine O’Neal will act as a stopgap at backup center behind Andrew Bogut, until splitting duties with Festus Ezeli once he returns from injury.
The most intriguing aspect of this season’s bench squad, however, is that it will receive a major boost from a former starter, Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes. The second team won’t be quite as energetic as it was, but it will remain effective due to improved depth, defensive ability and the presence of a starting-talent player.
Predicted Win-Loss Total: 52-30
As long as this team stays healthy, there’s absolutely no reason to believe that they won’t improve on last year. This should be enough to give them a shot at a deep playoff run and a top-tier seed in the playoffs.
Pacific Division Prediction: First
Reasoning by Rival Team and Head-to-Head Record Predictions
Sacramento Kings: 3-1
The Kings are an organization in disrepair and have spent the last few seasons in the Pacific cellar. They’ve made a couple good moves this offseason and have a couple promising players, particularly DeMarcus Cousins–if he can get his head on straight. However, there’s no reason to think they can handle this new Warriors team.
Phoenix Suns: 4-0
Last year, the Warriors let their matchups against the Suns team get way too close and slipped towards the end. The Suns, though, are still in a tailspin and won’t match up well against a defensively-armed Golden State team. It’s possible one slips through the cracks, but if Golden State sweeps anyone in the Pacific this year, it’ll be Phoenix.
Los Angeles Lakers: 3-1
The Lakers are also in disrepair. Without Dwight Howard manning the paint and with no contracts past this year except for Steve Nash, this franchise has no defined path forward.
Last year was tumultuous enough for them, barely making playoffs before getting swept by the San Antonio Spurs. Without any semblance of defense left and their superstar sidelined (though he’s apparently wrecking recovery expectations), these guys will likely end up bouncing around the bottom of the Pacific in 2013-14. Once Kobe is back, he may will them to one win, but I really can’t see more than that happening.
Los Angeles Clippers: 2-2
This is the only record I’m predicting will actually worsen from last year. In 2012-13, the Warriors took the Clips to a 3-1 head-to-head record. However, the Clippers made some great improvements this season, particularly the addition of Doc Rivers and locking down Chris Paul as their long-term star floor general.
Los Angeles’ proneness to hard-nosed defense, particularly on the wing, was exposed in the playoffs last year, though they can make their points just as well in the paint. That’s where they’ll win games against the Warriors (sorry, David Lee). Rivers will do his best to fix them up, but I don’t think they’ll fare as well against the NBA at large as well as the Warriors will.
Where does that leave us? At a 12-4 division record for Golden State.
It’s more than reasonable to see that coming out of them, but I do tend to air on the optimistic side, I admit. One thing’s for sure, though: There’s every reason to believe that the Pacific could belong to the Warriors for the first time in a long, long time.