April 09, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors bench of starters stand up for the final seconds of the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 105-89 to clinch a playoff berth. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Can The Warriors Contend With Their Current Roster?

So here we are, post-Decision 2.0. I held off publishing this until LeBron James made his announcement because I knew the dominoes would start falling once he did.

I waited day and night for it, and when it finally happened, I was asleep (due to the time difference) and only read about it six hours later – in fact, it was my girlfriend who broke the news to me.

The announcement sent ripple effects throughout the league. The most notable of which for the Warriors is Kevin Love reportedly being interested in committing to the Cavaliers. The Cavs were rumored to be linked in a draft day trade for Love, only for it to fall apart when Love refused to re-sign. It seems like that is no longer an issue, especially now that the King is back home.

As it looks more and more likely that the Warriors will lose out in the Love sweepstakes, here’s the sobering question all Warriors’ fans must ask themselves: can the Dubs really contend without Love?

Last year, after signing Iguodala, the Warriors were some analysts’  dark horse pick to reach the NBA Finals. While many fans were excited, I was skeptical; were the Warriors’ really that good?

The season started and the Warriors were off to the races. They surprised many with their highlight reel plays of Andre Iguodala dealing behind-the-back passes, Stephen Curry showing an improvement in his passing ability, and Klay Thompson being deadly as ever from the 3-point line. However, as the season dragged on, the Warriors lost some of their energy and began suffering disappointing losses to teams that they should have beaten. The Warriors’ offense struggled at times, reverting to isolation plays as the shot clock wound down. Their bench play was almost non-existent, as sixth man Harrison Barnes struggled to be the primary option. Injuries to Iguodala, Andrew Bogut and David Lee didn’t help either.

One NBA season later, the Warriors find themselves out of the first round of the playoffs. And up until now, the only free agency addition the front office has made is Shaun Livingston. Can we really expect this roster to challenge for the crown, especially when the other teams in the West are either improving with the addition of new players (Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers) or through the improvement of young players (Oklahoma City Thunder, New Orleans Pelicans)?

My answer? No.

If we were being realistic, the outlook is grim. On the surface, the problems are still there – the lack of quality bench production, the possible decline in defensive efficiency, the lack of a secondary ball-handler in the starting line-up, and the questions surrounding first-time head coach Steve Kerr.

All that being said, I am hoping I’m wrong.

I’m hoping that Kerr disproves the doubts surrounding his coaching credentials. I’m hoping that Barnes bounces back from his sophomore slump. I’m hoping that Curry plays his way into the discussion for best point guard of the league. I’m hoping that Thompson vindicates the front office’s decision to keep him.

I’m hoping that against all odds, the Warriors come out and make Warrior Nation proud.

They say a little bit of optimism goes a long way…

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