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Suddenly, Curry and Warriors are the hunted, not hunters

Repeating as champs next on agenda for Golden State

POSTED: Oct 13, 2015 11:18 PM ET

By Scott Howard-Cooper

BY Scott Howard-Cooper

NBA.com

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Warriors Season Preview: More or Less

The crew make predictions on how the world champion Golden State Warriors will finish the 2015-16 season.

They spent the offseason celebrating ... and hearing about how they have nothing to celebrate. The title was pure luck, a parade powered by opponent injuries and not Golden State talent. The Spurs, not the defending champions, are the team to beat after re-arming in the summer. On and on. Maybe the Warriors will show up anyway.

ICYMI

Coach Steve Kerr is out indefinitely as he recovers from offseason back surgery ... Draymond Green re-signed as a restricted free agent at a reported five years and $85 million. ... Lead assistant Alvin Gentry, a key part of the offense, left to become New Orleans coach. ... David Lee, an All-Star with Golden State in 2013, was traded to Boston after losing his spot in the rotation.

THREE POINTS

1. The Warriors won the championship without a large portion of the rotation -- Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Green, Harrison Barnes -- at the peak of their careers. Of all the reasons to be encouraged about the title defense, none is more reassuring than the reality that the roster still has a lot of room to improve.

2. Time for the most veteran of the core players will be watched closely, especially Andrew Bogut. He averaged 23.6 minutes in the regular season and 23.2 in the playoffs. The Warriors need to make sure the defensive presence is sharp in the postseason.

3. Reducing the turnovers remains a priority. The Warriors were 18th last season, despite a lot of experienced ball handlers.

MAN ON THE SPOT

The Warriors just won the title, a lot of players are still improving, the coach and the front office delivered in a big way -- no one is facing major pressure. But since the rules say someone must be on the spot ... Draymond Green. Eighty-five million dollars changes the world around you. The expectations are different, as in the big impact of 2014-15 now being a given, not just a step forward. Good thing he's up for it.

STARTING FIVE

Stephen Curry | 23.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 7.7 apg
The reigning MVP still has not peaked.

Klay Thompson | 21.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.9 apg
Coming off a breakthrough 2015-16.

Andrew Bogut | 6.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.7 apg
Second-team All-Defense last season.

Harrison Barnes | 10.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.4 apg
Has already built a reputation for playing big in the postseason.

Draymond Green | 11.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 3.7 apg
First-team All-Defense, second in balloting for Most Improved.

KEY RESERVES

Marreese Speights | 10.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 0.9 apg
Veteran big had a bounce-back 2014-15.

Andre Iguodala | 7.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.0 apg
Finals MVP for his play against Cleveland.

Shaun Livingston | 5.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.3 apg
The ring will feel especially good after the long journey.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Seeing how the Warriors play with a target on their back, after getting past the conference semifinals for the first time since 1977, is one of the league's key preseason storylines.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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