Kia Season Preview 2016-17
2016-17 Season Preview: Golden State Warriors
The most-watched team through most of last season, from record setting at the start to historic face plant at the end, will clearly open with that spotlight again. This is not the same, though. The Warriors, or most any team, have never experienced anything like the spotlight that will shadow them around in 2016-17, when they could win 70 games and be interrogated about what went wrong.
Kevin Durant signed as a free agent, as you may have heard. … Two starters from the team that won back-to-back Western Conference finals ended up in Dallas, Harrison Barnes as a free agent and Andrew Bogut in a salary dump to help clear cap space to sign Durant. … The top assistant coach left to become a head coach for the second offseason in a row, this time with Luke Walton leaving for the Lakers. … Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green played in the Olympics.
Rest will be an issue after a large part of the core played into June for the second season in a row, a storyline to watch anyway but even more because three Warriors had their summer further shortened by the Olympics.
Durant’s arrival won’t create chemistry problems. The real potential problem is keeping the offense revving at the previous high levels while also working in an important new member.
The bench will get a lot of scrutiny amid the departure of several key reserves – Marreese Speights, Festus Ezeli, Leandro Barbosa, Brandon Rush – and the arrival of David West plus a full season with Anderson Varejao.
MAN ON THE SPOT
Green, edging out Durant. KD is a candidate in the transition from Oklahoma City to Golden State while being (wrongly) portrayed by some as a villain, but Green has risen to a unique level of scrutiny after his playoff tactics and Finals suspension. His personality, not his play, is on the spot.
Stephen Curry | 30.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 6.7 apg
Durant’s arrival probably means fewer shots – but more open looks
Klay Thompson | 22.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.1 apg
Fifth in the league in three-point shooting and a skilled defender
Kevin Durant | 28.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 5.0 apg
Can be as great as ever as an ideal fit for the offense and the personality of the team
Draymond Green | 14.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 7.4 apg
Opens the season as a leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year
Zaza Pachulia | 8.6 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 1.7 apg
Warriors need him to rebound at the high level of 2015-16 in Dallas
Andre Iguodala | 7.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.4 apg
Versatile, dependable and professional – an important Warrior in many ways
Shaun Livingston | 6.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 3.0 apg
One of the best, if not the best, backup point guards in the league
David West | 7.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.8 apg
How much does he have left at 36 and with his third team in three years?
THE BOTTOM LINE
Buckle up. Whatever the Warriors do, it will be in a hurricane of attention, to some a team loaded with standouts willing to sacrifice and to others the new villain of the league. They’ve got something to prove either way.
Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.