The great flurry of activity surrounding the draft and the opening of free agency has now died down, and I think the Warriors have emerged clear winners. They have not only addressed every single critical hole or misconstruction in their roster that I have been harping on since the advent of the Lacob era, but by doing so have also given strong indications that the guiding philosopy of the franchise has changed radically as well.
The Warriors have lacked a two-way defensive monster with size to start in the backcourt alongside Stephen Curry. The slow-footed Klay Thompson was a poor fit there, too often forced to chase around far smaller and quicker players.
Solved with the addition of Andre Iguodala.
The Warriors have lacked two-way centers that can give Stephen Curry a legitimately dangerous partner in the pick and roll, and help him break the intense blitzes that plagued him last year. As well as help him prove to the world that he is not only one of the best shooters in league history, but a legitimately great point guard.
Solved with the additions of Jermaine O’Neal and Marreese Speights.
The Warriors have lacked spread-fours, and even the awareness of management of how valuable — indeed how necessary — such players are in today’s NBA.
Solved by the emergency created by David Lee’s injury in last years playoffs, which allowed Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green to shine in his place. And apparently opened Joe Lacob’s eyes as to the true position of these players. Lacob’s eyes may also have been opened by the success of the Mavericks, Thunder and Heat in the last 3 years — Nellieball teams all.
There are two indications that management’s philosophy has, for the first time in Lacob’s reign, shifted to embrace the use of spread-fours and all-out Nellieball. First, Andre Iguodala was added, which will have the effect of shifting Harrison Barnes to the four for much, if not most, of his minutes. And second, Carl Landry was let go, and replaced by centers — thereby opening up those minutes for Barnes (and Green) at the four.
Another excellent move made by the Warriors was the addition of Toney Douglas. Instant offense off the bench, as well as instant defense. He is a legitimate point guard stopper. Not a complete replacement for the excellence of Jarret Jack, but a player who nevertheless complements the roster, and provides some insurance for Curry.
[Edit: It should be noted that the signings of both Jarret Jack and Toney Douglas (and the emergency addition of Nate Robinson 2 seasons ago) also indicate a major leap in Joe Lacob’s understanding of NBA basketball. All of these guys are two-way players, who can shoot it from anywhere, and particularly from three. The days of the disastrous non-shooting backup point guards with whom Lacob opened up his tenure — the rookie Jeremy Lin, Acie Law, Ish Smith, and to a lesser extent Charles Jenkins (who can’t shoot the three and is for that reason now playing in Serbia) — appear to be over for good.]
This team is without a doubt the most complete Warriors team since they won the championship in 1975. They are an incredibly versatile team: Mark Jackson can play big or small; play fast or slow; and go with offense or defense at literally every position. And they are one of the highest IQ teams in the league.
As I ruminate on the current state of the West, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that the Warriors are at the very least a top 5 team in the conference. And quite possibly among the very best teams in the NBA. I think they are a 55 win team if Mark Jackson makes the moves I anticipate him making, and if the injury chips fall the right way. By injury chips I chiefly mean David Lee and Stephen Curry.
Unlike last year, my feeling about the team is not at all reliant on the health of Andrew Bogut. I think they’ll still be very, very good if Bogut and Ezeli never play a game, which is not as unlikely as most people think. Although that might require Lacob to make a move for reinforcements.
Unfortunately, we have an eternity to wait until we receive confirmation of our intuitions. These are the dog days of the NBA, the months when literally nothing happens.