Hey hey, everyone, there's still a game to be played tonight! Look over here! Nate Parham of sister blog Golden State of Mind and I exchanged questions before tonight's Los Angeles Lakers - Golden State Warriors game. Read about the Warriors below, and be sure to check their Lakers section over here!
One of the bigger trades last season was the Monta Ellis-Andrew Bogut swap. Bogut was hurt and is just now starting to play with the Warriors, and is out 7-10 days unfortunately. However, in the limited amount of time he has been able to play, how do you feel about him being the anchor of the team?
I feel that we finally have someone on this roster who knows how to play defense. Where that shows up in the numbers most dramatically is in the Warriors rebounding, but in the Warriors' last trip to LA against the Clippers they won the rebounding battle even without Bogut - it is just a better rebounding team this year by virtue of adding depth to the frontcourt. What we most readily notice from watching the games is Bogut as a player who not only has active feet and great instincts as a help defender, but also does a great job from the back line directing his teammates and he's already been a positive locker room presence from all reports.
Even if he can only average 20-30 mins per game for 60-65 games this season, that's a huge asset that the Warriors haven't had in literally decades.
Klay Thompson was one of my favorite rookies last season, his shooting stroke had me raving before he was drafted, and he's shooting a respectable 37.9% from deep so far through the season. What are a few realistic benchmarks you'd like to see Klay Thompson hit this season?
While people foresaw this as a potentially big season for Thompson, I was a little bit skeptical because when he really caught fire at the end of the season he wasn't playing with NBA regulars - for the most part in fact, he was playing with four entirely different starters. With Curry healthy (knock on wood), Barnes developing, and Lee also a scoring option, one thing I was really looking for was to see Thompson round out his game a bit and become more of an all-around player. I think you're seeing that in the form of his vastly improved effort on the boards and him getting to the line more often. Moreso for the sake of the unit than his own success, I'd like to see Thompson get his free throw attempts per game to about 4 and I would've been pleased with even 4 rebounds per game (he's currently averaging 5.6 and I can't see him keeping that up).
So anyway, while others had loftier scoring goals goals, I was thinking 14 points on 44+% shooting, 4 boards, 2-3 assists, and 4 FTAs. He's a better defender than I think he gets credit for even among Warriors fans, especially with Bogut behind him.
Condolences on losing Brandon Rush with the ACL tear, he was one of the players many Lakers fans were longing for in free agency (who isn't though at times eh?). This should open up playing time for rookie Harrison Barnes. Do you find this to be an opportunity for a team with younger assets, or a set back on the season?
Man that injury happened during our GSoM Night - rough way to open the year.
The optimistic way to look at this: although everyone harped on the Warriors needing a small forward, that was the Warriors' deepest position entering the season with Rush, Barnes, and Richard Jefferson. Then you also have to consider that with the Warriors giving the Jack-Curry pairing heavy minutes, Thompson is also getting some run at the three as well. So they have options in terms of filling Rush's minutes and replacing what he does offensively. The real loss is what Rush provided the team defensively - he was arguably the team's best wing defender. The real opportunity here is to see who steps up defensively and Barnes has done an admirable job on that end, especially for a rookie - I think he has all the tools to be a solid defender in the league and I think something that some of us underestimated when he was drafted is his work ethic. He's improved dramatically even since summer league and defensive intensity is no small part of that.
What's the pulse like for Golden State right now? Do you see them being able to fight for a playoff spot with the roster, health granted? It seems like the talent is there, but will the execution?
L.A. fans are as familiar as any fanbase with the Warriors' past two decades: the Warriors have been largely irrelevant on the national landscape. Where I think we're all it's at is that he organization is headed in the right direction, toward a place when the Warriors are relevant to the national discussion.
They made decisions this offseason that didn't just help them put together a more talented roster but a roster with more complementary pieces that clearly has amazing potential when healthy. With the uncertainty about Bogut's health timeline in terms of both how many games he can play and how often he can play in them - not to mention anxiety about Curry's ankle - fighting for a playoff spot is somewhat realistic, but I'm not sure making the playoffs is going to be easy or realistic. What I'm looking for is whether Mark Jackson and the coaching staff are able to bring this unit together and maximize their talent over the long-term, no easy task for a head coach who still has less than 82 regular season games of experience. Thus far it's hard to be anything but pleased with their performance in light of the circumstances and I think continuing to make forward progress as an organization is a more important goal to me than whether they make the playoffs.
You have three words to describe the Golden State Warriors, what would they be, and why?
Movin' on up
After decades of struggle - to find a center, to sustainably field an even semi-competitive team for more than a year, finding a dependable star (when healthy) - the Warriors finally look to have built something that we can have faith in.
I'm not saying this is they're year and they're still far from being a contender. But this is not a roster of misfits that will have to get by on a gimmick or a group of talented players with a gaping hole. They're good enough to be in every game they play and possibly win more than they lose into the foreseeable future. It's a low bar as a Warriors fan, but it's been a long time coming.
Many thanks to Nate again, some great information about the Golden State Warriors and how they're looking with Bogut, Barnes, and the rest of their intriguing roster pieces. Be sure to give him a follow @NateP_SBN and read his work over at Golden State of Mind