Three offseasons ago, Mark Jackson inherited a mediocre 36-win Golden State Warriors team. Three seasons later Jackson was fired from the Warriors after a 51-win season, the Warriors highest win total since 1991-92.
That means that Steve Kerr’s laundry list of what needs to get done should be relatively short. But for the Warriors to take emerge as a true title contender, a lot needs to get done.
For starters, Kerr needs to make the offense better. For a roster with David Lee, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry on it, the Warriors offensive numbers were pedestrian at best last season. There offensive rating was near the middle of the league. They were average in their turnover numbers. They were the fourth best three-point shooting team but were the ninth-best shooting team from the field.
Kerr needs to change the Warriors’ offensive system. The San Antonio Spurs’ offense is predicated on ball movement. Every player on the floor works in unison, like an orchestra creating music. The Spurs drive-and-kick very effectively, but also create a lot of their shots off of pick-and-roll. What makes the Spurs so good is that they execute their offense so well. They get easy, good shots when they need it most. Take the Oklahoma City Thunder for example. The Thunder will never win a title running the offensive system they currently do. They don’t generate any easy shots when they desperately need baskets. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook can score at will, but more times than not they score as a result of isolation sets and their own talent overmatching their defenders.
Stephen Curry can score at will, but the Warriors as a team need to learn how to consistently create easy shots as a result of their ball movement. David Lee could play Tim Duncan. Curry could penetrate like Tony Parker. Klay Thompson could play the Manu Ginobili role.
Kerr needs to insert his own offensive principles, and I am sure that he will. The defense was stellar last year, but for a team that is known nationally for their sharpshooting the Warriors need their overall offense to improve.
Steve Kerr also needs to fix Harrison Barnes. This is easier said then done. Maybe it means Barnes starts and David Lee comes of the bench. Maybe it means that Barnes becomes less of the focal point of the second unit. Maybe it means that Barnes plays more power forward and less small forward. Last season Barnes was in a season long rut. He started the season injured and never seemed to get his feet under him. He was uncomfortable. He was inconsistent. Yet he is one of the few Warriors with legitimate trade value as well as untapped upside. If Kerr can salvage and develop Barnes into a legitimate starter at the small forward position then a lot of the team’s bench woes will be fixed.
Kerr also needs to expand Draymond Green’s role as well as get more from Andre Iguodala. Green had a national coming-out party during the Warriors lone postseason series against the Clippers. Green can do it all. He rebounds, sets screens, defends, and can play near the rim and away from it. But to really take the next step Green needs to improve his shooting. Who better to help him improve his shot then Steve Kerr?
One of the reasons Iguodala was brought to the Bay Area was to replace Jarrett Jack. Now, Iguodala is a better player than Jack, but late in games during the 2012-13 season, Jack could take some pressure off of Stephen Curry by handling the ball-handling duties. Jack would run the point and Curry would play off the ball. Iguodala was supposed to be able to do the same; run the point and push Curry to the two-guard when needed.
But Iguodala struggled at the point guard position and his handle was nowhere near good enough to consistently run the offense. Steve Kerr needs to help Iguodala become a secondary ball handler and become a better point-forward. Kerr is fully aware of the “take pressure off of your superstar role” thanks to his time in the backcourt next to Michael Jordan and while Curry is no Jordan, Curry is the Warriors’ best offensive player and if Iguodala could legitimately run the point then the Warriors offense would become more dynamic.