NBA

Warriors’ (relative) struggles make them more interesting

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The Golden State Warriors aren’t laying waste to the rest of the league. Yet. It’s probably coming, because what we’re seeing right now is this version of the Warriors’ floor. They’re sloppy on offense — too many ineffective screens and passes that look amateurish at times. And their defensive rotations might be even worse at times.

I remember speaking with David Lee at media day before training camp began in 2014, and he got animated when I asked him about the team’s continuity compared to when he first joined the team. And even though it was his injury that may have unlocked that team’s true potential, with Draymond Green at the forefront, the Warriors — and Steve Kerr — benefited greatly from the lack of roster shifting over the previous few seasons. A tinker here, a Livingston there, and the main pieces were allowed to grow together.

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A 8.0 roster quake on July 4 to resulted in a “super team” that’s unlike any that we’ve ever seen, because this question — Who is the No. 1 option? — may never be definitively answered.

Those who covered the Miami Heat unanimously point to the back-and-forth deference between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade at the early stages of their partnership as a major sticking point before James grabbed the Alpha role and Miami took off. Heading into last night’s game against New Orleans, the money would’ve been on Kevin Durant taking James’s path and Curry settling into a Wade-like role (just ignore the fact that we’re talking about wildly different players, especially Wade and Curry). Durant was nearly perfect in every way through the season’s first six games. He was frighteningly brilliant against his old team, and a night later he was the only shining light in a ragged loss to a Lakers team that looked three times more energetic than the Warriors.

Durant continued his impressive streak of games with 20+ points last night, but he was the one who looked a little off with his passing execution at the beginning of last night’s game, while Curry was on a mission to seize his chance to erase the memory of his first three-less game in almost 200 contests if you include the playoffs (196 consecutive games with at least one made three-pointer, to be exact).

Curry and Durant are learning early on when to feed the other, when the other is scorching hot, and when to be selfish.

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Some of the threes Curry hit last night were absolutely insane … except we saw the same threes from Curry last season.

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Klay Thompson’s focus on his midrange game last night resulted in a positive outcome; he’ll start making threes at a high rate again soon. It took Draymond Green three games to realize that his new role is to become one of the best “glue guys” in league history, and the Warriors will be delighted with this line from Green all season: 9.4 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 7.3 apg, 2.4 spg, 1.7 bpg. Ian Clark will provide a scoring burst once every four or five games as an added bonus. Patrick McCaw and Kevon Looney will grow throughout the season — they’re both too savvy and Golden State’s coaching staff is too competent to expect any other result.

The only worry I see from this team come from the guys over 30. Well, maybe not Shaun Livingston (his game looks unchanged), but Andre Iguodala has started off his contract year looking like a player who could be nearing the end. He’s only making 17% of his threes and whenever he tries to make a layup in transition it seems like he’s seeing the ghosts of J.R. Smith and James around the basket. Maybe he’s conserving himself for postseason battles against Kawhi Leonard and James, but the early returns have been concerning. Andrew Bogut’s presence has been overstated since the beginning of this season (he’s averaging 0.4 blocks per game with the Mavs), but Zaza Pachulia is scaring no one on either end. It’s hard to tell what David West will bring, although he looked pretty good last night against the lowly Pelicans.

But that’s why veterans want to play on a team like this: so they can ease their bodies through the grind of a long regular season and playoffs. It’s up to the core-four to figure out how they’re going to tow this boat, and it’ll take some time.

That’s kind of fun, right?

A lot of us — myself included, I’ll admit — thought the regular season would seem long and somewhat boring as the Warriors cruised to a No. 1 seed, with their best players spending a good share of their fourth quarters giggling on the bench while the reserves boosted their numbers. The early product may be frustrating, with the Warriors throwing easily-deflected passes after getting caught in the air, or giving up 20-point leads in a matter of a few minutes against lottery teams. But much like the evolution of this team from perennial bottom-feeder to the league’s top villains, the Durantified roster’s growth will give us a reason to watch the games all the way through instead of waiting for highlight packages set to upbeat music.

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captfuzzbucket
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captfuzzbucket

So much fun watching this team.

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