We’re less than two weeks into the 2013-14 NBA season and all the preseason predictions can finally give way to actual game data. With that in mind, we turn to a group of Warriors experts to get their first impressions of the team now that the games truly matter. Jim Barnett leads the discussion off and we’ll also hear from team broadcasters Bob Fitzgerald, Tim Roye and Tom Tolbert, as well as a pair of warriors.com bloggers.
Jim Barnett | Television Analyst
One thing we have learned over the first seven games of the 2013-14 season is that preseason games often give no clue as to how a team may play once the real games begin. Such is the case with the Golden State Warriors. Not much about this team was revealed in preseason games. In fact, I was left scratching my head trying to figure out if this team was really as good as it was on paper.
After seven games we have a pretty good idea that this group has a chance to be special this year. The first strength is the tremendous defense that has been played. Holding opponents to less than 40 percent field goal percentage in five of the first seven games cannot be ignored. A lot of the credit has to go to Andrew Bogut and his large presence as an anchor in the lane. He blocks some shots but changes even more and also makes opponents think twice about penetrating into possible trouble. He is a difference maker.
The addition of Andre Iguodala has also inspired the Warriors. His tremendous defensive prowess is infectious and he gets into the passing lanes extremely well. His versatility is a big asset and he is a perfect fit for this team.
David Lee has been very good as he is in great shape, is playing better defense, and has been pretty consistent in the early season.
The starting backcourt of Curry and Thompson has been up and down. We've seen tremendous scoring and shooting from both, but only in two games have we witnessed them having big nights together. Consistency separates the very good players from the great ones in this league. I expect that to take shape as they are still learning in this league. Their value is enhanced because Thompson is also a very capable defender and Curry is developing as a playmaker. Having two players with elite shooting touches is a big and rare asset.
The return of Harrison Barnes is a huge lift for the team. He should be an impact player in many games this year. That gives the Warriors six elite players.
Some questions still remain to be answered: Can the Warriors find several players to provide some consistent scoring from the bench? Will the Warriors learn to take care of the basketball as the season goes on? Do they have the mental toughness to win big games on the road and finish above .500 on the road this season?
All things considered this team has the potential to be really special. And I believe they will be. One reason is the coaching of Mark Jackson. He is perfect for this group. They believe in him and they play hard for him. As a former player he understands the mentality of an NBA player. He is a big reason that the chemistry on this team is strong.
I love it when this team gets out and runs. That is when they are at their best and everything seems to fall into place. A team with shooters, scorers, defenders, rebounders, passers (big and small), and no glaring weaknesses should be fun to follow and watch develop.
Bob Fitzgerald | Television Play-By-Play Announcer
Very tough to play five road games out of seven at any time during the year, let alone at the beginning of the season. Make three of those games against the Western Elite (Clippers, San Antonio, Memphis) and the Warriors got a really good idea of the challenges they will face to be one of the top four teams in the Western Conference. 4-3 through this stretch is more than acceptable.
The positive takeaways through seven games: great team chemistry, plenty of shooting, excellent ball movement, tenacious defense and holding five teams below 40 percent from the field (that is not easy, period). Andre Igoudola has been absolutely terrific as a defender, scorer, passer and teammate. Andrew Bogut has anchored the defense and just makes the right basketball play on both ends of the court nearly every time. Klay Thompson has grown in many areas as a player. He is now a marked man and consistency will be his next challenge. And Steph Curry is still really good.
The areas to improve will be limiting turnovers. There is no reason for the Warriors to be in the bottom five in turnovers committed. This is caused by a little unfamiliarity as they are integrating Igoudola and Bogut into significant playing time. Additionally, a number of turnovers have been attributed to the bench unit. Primarily defensive players that are trying to figure out a way to be productive offensively (Harrison Barnes can certainly help in this regard). The free throw shooting has been poor to start the year, and both Bogut and Igoudola have struggled at the line, and this will bear watching as the season continues.
Tim Roye | Radio Play-By-Play Announcer | @warriorsvox
After the first seven games, the Warriors have a record of 4-3 which is good considering the strength of schedule and five road games. I think their defense has been excellent with five of their 7 opponents held to below 40 percent shooting. The two teams that shot above 50 percent were the Clippers and the Grizzlies who are very good Western Conference opponents, and the Warriors played them on the back end of a back to back in each case. As of this writing, the Warriors are second in defensive efficiency allowing only 92 points per 100 possessions and are third in defensive field goal percentage with teams shooting 41 percent.
The starting five, now with Harrison Barnes back you can say the front six, are as good as any in the Association and will be a matchup problem for any team they face. Andre Iguodala’s transition has been seamless and you cannot overstate what his addition will mean over the course of the season. Andrew Bogut looks active and I believe his offense will improve as he gets more comfortable on the floor while the Splash Brothers, David Lee and Barnes are what we hoped they would be.
As is the case with any team with a number of new players, Coach Mark Jackson is finding out which combinations of players perform the best and getting Barnes back really helps with that equation. Toney Douglas had a great game off the bench in San Antonio and if he can provide some scoring that would be a huge plus. The bench rotation is a work in progress.
One area where the team has to improve is turnovers, where they are dead last averaging 19.9 per contest. You’re going to see some turnovers because Golden State plays at the second fastest pace in the league but it is the unforced errors and sloppy cross court passes off the dribble that need to be corrected. Their rebounding has not been what it will be over the course of the season and I think the schedule has something to do with that.
To sum up, the team has played well but there is room for improvement and I believe they will get better over the rest of the month.
Tom Tolbert | Radio Analyst | @byronjr23
Klay has expanded offensive game, showing he’s not just a 3-point shooter, he’s all over the court making it happen … AND oh by the way, he guards the other team’s best perimeter player every night. He can guard PGs SGs and SFs.
Bogut defensive presence sets the table for everything else, doing all the kinds of things that don’t show up in the boxscore: setting screens, being a tremendous passer, Warriors don’t have to double-team in the post like a lot of teams do with him back there ... They should go to him more on offense – he can really score the ball and sometimes they shy away from him and get happy hoisting up shots.
Lee’s body transformation is awesome – he’s streamlined, quicker, he’s got bounce in his step. He might be on pace for a double-double season
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers – way too many turnovers ... BUT in the NBA, unlike the NFL, you can be a high-turnover team and it doesn’t necessarily translate to wins and losses.
The Spurs game was a true sign of maturity – no Steph, yet they clawed and battled toe to toe with their nemesis.
The team is showing consistently good effort on the defensive end.
Not where they were last year in terms of rebounding, but they’ll get there.
Brian Witt | warriors.com
Road losses to the Clippers, Spurs, and Grizzlies (two of which came on the back end of a back-to-back) are all that separate the Warriors from the top of the Western Conference. That’s certainly nothing to scoff at. The Warriors have done what good teams do, which is win the games they’re supposed to, and remain competitive against upper-echelon opponents. The defense has been terrific, and has resulted in Golden State having the second-best defensive and net ratings in the entire league behind only the undefeated Pacers. If I’m the Warriors, I’m feeling pretty good right now.
While Stephen Curry’s recurring ankle issues will remain an ongoing concern, there’s not much to be worried about at this point. Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala have played at an All-Star level for the most part, and David Lee and Andrew Bogut seem to be rounding back into top-level shape. I still think they’re going to need more scoring from the frontcourt and off the bench to establish themselves as clear-cut contenders, but I actually expect that to improve as the team chemistry develops and roles are solidified. Would they like to be 7-0? Sure. But I’d argue they look and are better than their record indicates right now.
Andy Fahey | warriors.com
The fact that the Warriors started the 2013-14 with a 4-1 record was certainly an achievement, but by no means was it an indicator that we should plan on 65 regular season wins this season. Likewise, the team’s current two-game skid does not mean it is time to panic. Rather, we’re somewhere in the middle. The team certainly has some room to grow, and being that there are several first-year Warriors in the rotation and Harrison Barnes is playing himself back into basketball shape after missing nearly a month with a foot injury, their on-court continuity should only improve as the season plays itself out.
That being said, Warriors fans should absolutely love what they’re seeing from the starters. The ball movement is fluid and has every youth basketball coach in the Bay Area drooling about what can happen when all five players touch the ball on one possession. The defense has been strong overall and the two biggest arguments against that – at Memphis and at the Clippers – have to be taken with a grain of salt, as both of those games were played on the road and on the back end of a back-to-back. It’d be nice to see the Warriors rebound a little better, but we’re at a point in the season where one game can have a drastic effect on the numbers so we can call that inconclusive for now.
Bottom line is that the team has a record that’s over .500 despite playing more than 70 percent of their games on the road. Pretty sure #DubNation will take that.