SI’s anonymous scouts note specific challenges for new-look Warriors

Oct 19, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) is congratulated by guard Stephen Curry (30) during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers at Valley View Casino Center. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 19, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) is congratulated by guard Stephen Curry (30) during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers at Valley View Casino Center. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

The Golden State Warriors are star-studded. Sports Illustrated’s writers met with NBA scouts that, anonymously, gave their thoughts on the Dubs.

Everyone has an opinion on Golden State. Some are well-thought out and informed while others are just a result of jealousy and anger that the rich got richer. Then there are the people who get paid to do this for a living. Those people’s ideas are worth a close look.

Sports Illustrated’s writers met with scouts from around the NBA who dished out some of their intel on teams and players. Of course, these scouts remained anonymous. Given that they are probably the most qualified to talk about this, it’s important to look at what they said about the Warriors.

The Dubs are the most talented team in the league, but they aren’t perfect. There are some question marks. Let’s look at what they had to say about Golden State.

Championship Expectations

"“There’s no way they beat 73 wins. They don’t want to go through that again and there will be growing pains. Maybe they can make another run at history next year once they’ve jelled. … I’ll take Golden State over Cleveland in seven. Durant’s arrival should swing that series. How does Cleveland guard both Curry and Durant?"

If the Warriors do anything less than win a championship, it will be one of the biggest disappointments in professional sports history. The expectations are so high for this team that winning a title seems like it would almost be…boring. They are the clear-cut favorites now that they’ve added Kevin Durant.

The Durant acquisition makes the Warriors an absolute nightmare to defend. Looking back at the NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers tried to double team and trap Steph Curry whenever they could. With his bad knee, he couldn’t quite explode and beat that tough defense like he has before. Instead of letting Curry beat them, the Cavs dared Harrison Barnes and the centers to do it:

Spoiler alert: they couldn’t. But that’s where Durant changes everything. Who do you double team? Can you even double team? The former MVP is one of the greatest scorers to step on a court and his playmaking abilities make the Warriors nearly impossible to defend.


"They took a big step back at center. Bogut is an elite defender and rim-protector and Ezeli was proven. Zaza and Varejao just aren’t on that level. They’ll miss Bogut more than anyone else. If Bogut was a 10 for rim-protection, Zaza is a three. …Draymond is the only guy who can protect the rim for them right now. He better not get hurt. … Their small lineup got pounded on the glass in the playoffs, even when Draymond was out there. That’s an Achilles heel."

The Warriors had to forfeit size to acquire Durant. This is where teams can capitalize and beat Golden State. Their starting lineup will be decent, with Draymond Green (an excellent rim protector) and Zaza Pachulia (a not-so-excellent rim protector).

But the Warriors don’t have Festus Ezeli coming off the bench anymore. Anderson Varejao is not going to stop anyone at the rim. He’s not going to set a defensive tone like the bigs from last year. This is their biggest weakness.

But alas, the Warriors’ #LightYears ahead style might save them. JaVale McGee has officially made the roster. The athletic 28 year old might be Steve Kerr’s best shot at having a competent defender relieve Green and Pachulia. He has long arms and can jump out of the gym, which is more than be said about Varejao.

Similarly, rebounding has proven to be an issue. It was a problem last year when they went small. Yes, Durant’s probably a seven footer, but he’s not an actual big man. They’ll need to scrap on the glass and try to limit second chance points somehow. Or just outscore the other team.

The Warriors do have above average size at a few starting spots and at point guard when Shaun Livingston checks in. Lucky for them though, there aren’t many teams with a dominant big than can really hurt them in the playoffs. It’s not likely they’ll face DeMarcus Cousins or Karl-Anthony Towns in the postseason. This is going to be a problem, but they hope their small lineup can counter it.


"They lost a ton of supporting players who had really clear roles: Barnes, Bogut, Ezeli and Barbosa. There will be a cumulative effect from those losses, especially early. …Their closing lineup will be scary good, but Kerr has some work to do building out his rotations. …Kerr is smart enough to stagger Curry and Durant so that one is always on the court. Scary thought. …Iguodala hasn’t slipped yet and Livingston is one of the best bench guards in the league. Both excel at playing off of other players. … I don’t see West playing a huge role for them. He’s a better fit for their style if he plays the five. … I’m intrigued by McCaw. He’s going to open some eyes with his skill and athleticism. He’s got the talent and he’s a good fit.”"

Many felt that the Warrior lost too much in their pursuit of Durant. Their whole mantra that Kerr rallied around, “Strength in Numbers,” relies on having guys that can come in and contribute. The Warriors are definitely top heavy.

The scout is correct that Kerr needs to work to find a rotation that really works. His rotations were lackluster in the Finals and would sometimes roll out lineups that didn’t have enough firepower. With four stars at his disposal, it shouldn’t be too hard to keep one or two of them on the court at all times.

This masks any apparent lack of depth. Curry and Durant are good enough to adapt to and carry didn’t lineups. The Warriors’ issue won’t be a lack of depth, but understanding how to maximize their talent.

Ian Clark isn’t as good as Leandro Barbosa, but Patrick McCaw looks NBA ready. Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston are still high-IQ leaders that, almost magically, calm the team down. If David West can provide some offense and toughness off the bench, it’ll be a bonus. They have a lot of guys who can play the five, but they shouldn’t play all that much. The Warriors go small a lot anyways.

There’s going to be growing pains incorporating all the new guys into the system. But depth should, ultimately, not be too big of a problem.


"Durant has good feet, not great feet defensively, and he tries to get away with his length. Overall, though, he’s underrated defensively. … Kerr is smart enough to stagger Curry and Durant so that one is always on the court. Scary thought. … Curry is only an average defender but at least he has a high IQ and you can’t attack him every single possession like you could when he was younger. He’s still not that strong and he can be posted up. Thompson and Iguodala save him a lot. … Draymond is a top 15 player. They’ve done an amazing job developing him, and they really have to hope his offseason incidents were part of a learning curve rather than signs of bad habits."

The Warriors’ stars, namely their two MVPs, are incredibly gifted offensively. Their defensive capabilities to get quite the same reputation. But the scout gives them more credit than your average Twitter troll does.

The scout says that Curry is an average defender, which is mostly right when you consider that bigger players can take him down to the post. It’s what LeBron James did to him in the Finals. But the scout points out what Warriors fans have been saying.

Curry knows how to play defense in the system. While Klay Thompson and Iguodala provide wonderful help, Curry has quick hands that allowed him to lead the league in steals. He also is smart enough to funnel his man to the help.

Durant’s defense is also overlooked. He isn’t Iguodala, James, or Kawhi Leonard, but he has the tools to be a good defender. He is long with “good feet.” Learning from Ron Adams, Golden State’s defensive guru, and playing alongside some All-Defense-level players should elevate him on that side of the floor.

The Alpha Dog

"Steph will still be the alpha guy for them because the ball will be in his hands but he will score less this year. … Distribution of shots will be a major issue no matter what they say. … There’s some pressure on Steph to make Durant feel like he’s still their go-to scorer. … Durant is the toughest scorer in the league to guard, much tougher than Carmelo now, and his shot-making is unbelievable when he’s in takeover mode. He’s also the biggest ball-stopper on their team. Look for Kerr to give him an isolation package to keep him happy. Durant going one-on-one is a great hammer coming out of timeouts or when they need a bucket late. He draws so much attention."

Whenever stars come together on a team, there’s the fit and chemistry concern. Can they co-exist? Who will have to sacrifice?

Curry and Durant have spent years as the go-to guy on their team. They’re the no. 1, the guy who takes the last shot. The each held the keys to their respective franchises.

Again, there will be growing pains. The two MVPs are learning how to play with each other. But so far it looks pretty good.

Durant is known for his isolation play. He’s great at it and the Oklahoma City Thunder asked him to go to it over and over again. That will definitely continue to happen, as it should. He can get a bucket pretty much whenever he wants.

It does look like Curry has been more passive, trying to find Durant and Thompson and get them into a rhythm. He knows that he can get his shot and get hot almost instantly. But he takes pride in being a point guard and, when he can, he prefers to pass.

Next: The Warriors in the GMs poll

There won’t be a power struggle. These two knew exactly what they were getting themselves into. And their preseason damage is showing that they can both continue to get theirs while staying within the pass-heavy, motion offense.

These are two selfless stars that just want to win. This duo will prove to be one of the deadliest in the league especially once they really learn how to play with each other.


The Warriors don’t have many flaws. The ones that the scouts can point to can, mostly, be resolved.  Their rebounding and rim protection will be challenged when they go small, but they won a championship that way. Their stars all understand their role and Kerr should have them rolling soon enough.

Outside of health, the only thing that can stop Golden State is Golden State. This is the league’s only hope. The hope is that they turn on each other, implode, and their All-NBA talent can’t work it out.

It’s not going to happen though. This team should be eating souls in no time. They look like they’re on their way to their second title in three years and the beginning of a dynasty.