Near the end of the 2006-2007 season, the Golden State Warriors launched their "We Believe" campaign. They finished the season 16-5, and promptly ousted the Dallas Mavericks to become the first eight seed to beat a one seed in a seven-game series. While the Warriors' memorable run last year was reminiscent of 2007, this team hopes to do something they couldn't do before: continue their great play into the next season.
The Golden State Warriors
Prediction: The Warriors will lose in the Western Conference Finals.
This Warriors team is so volatile that this could either be an extremely conservative or a wildly outlandish prediction -- it's hard to say just how this team will pan out.
I proudly hopped on the GSW bandwagon early last offseason, and while I still believe in them, I don't necessarily approve of the roster moves they made this offseason -- although any offseason where you get rid of Andris Biedrins' and Richard Jefferson's noxious contracts can't be considered a failure.
Spurs fans know what Stephen Curry can do on any given night -- or any given quarter -- but he's not what's going to put the Warriors over the edge into the serious contender category. That's going to be the role of the other guys.
While Andre Iguodala is obviously a great signing for this year, I don't think it will do any good for the development of second-year small forward Harrison Barnes. Nobody can question Barnes' athletic prowess, and he looked like a budding star in the Western Conference Semifinals. With a player that could be so key to the Warriors' future, Barnes should be learning all he can now by playing lots of minutes, which is why I don't think the Iguodala pickup will be good for the long-term. Iguodala is no slouch himself, but I think there were bigger issues to address, like how all of their key big men are injured (Festus Ezeli), coming off a major injury (David Lee), or are perpetually injury-prone (Andrew Bogut).
With the memory of the Western Conference Semifinals fresh on our minds, Spurs fans should be genuinely afraid of facing the Warriors in next year's playoffs. Had Klay Thompson not fouled out on a highly questionable call in Game 1, there's no telling what would have happened, lest we forget that Parker was completely shut down by him early on in the series. And Thompson isn't even that great of a defender, especially compared to Iguodala. If Mark Jackson chooses to put Iguodala or even Barnes on Parker for extended minutes, the Warriors will be an even tougher out.
One of the main reasons the Warriors lost against the Spurs was their lack of bench scoring. Aside from Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, their bench didn't really pack a punch. With Jack and Landry now gone, it's up to Harrison Barnes to be a huge contributor off the bench along with new role players Toney Douglas and Marreese Speights. Those guys should be solid, but by playoff time what could set this Warriors' bench apart from last season's is the improvement of their young players, Kent Bazemore, Draymond Green, and Festus "for the rest of us" Ezeli.
While Mark Jackson and the Warriors were impressive last year, I must give credit where credit's due: the Warriors' unsung heroes are their fans. Over the years, their supporters have stayed with their team through thick and awfully thin, and last year they were huge. This team has a serious home court advantage -- Andrei Kirilenko can verify. Golden State and their fans could form a deadly combination for years to come.
Other Warrior Predictions:
- Stephen Curry will break the record for most three-point field goals made in a single game.
It might not necessarily happen this season, but it will happen sometime.
- David Lee will get traded this season.
-- if the Warriors are serious about improving their defense, that is.