Following a 2012-2013 campaign that saw an array of Stephen Curry three-pointers, David Lee double-doubles and Harrison Barnes slams, the Golden State Warriors and their fans are already anxious to begin the 2013-2014 NBA season.
Not satisfied with a second round exit in the playoffs, Golden State proved to be aggressive in free agency, bringing in All-Star swing-man Andre Iguodala, while keeping every member of their starting five.
The bench had a major overhaul though. The Warriors lost Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry to free agency, and traded away Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush.
It can be argued that their bench this season could be stronger. In all likelihood, Harrison Barnes (with the acquisition of Iguodala) will be the Warriors sixth man. Draymond Green will have another year under his belt. Toney Douglass, Nemanja Nedovic and possibly Kent Bazemore will be rotating in at point guard and shooting guard. Lastly, Jermaine O Neal and Marreese Speights will be subbing in and out for Andrew Bogut and David Lee.
With many new versatile pieces acquired by Golden State, here is what to look for in the 2013-2014 season.
1) Who will be handling the ball besides Steph?
It will be interesting to see who Mark Jackson puts at the point when Stephen Curry has subbed out or moved off the ball in hopes of getting him more looks. When there is a traditional point guard for point guard substitution, look for the likes of Toney Douglass or Nemanja Nedovic, the Warriors first round pick, to run the point. The Warriors can also look within their “starting six” to handle the point when keeping Steph on the floor. Harrison Barnes began to show near the end of the past season that he can handle the ball with confidence. There is also Andre Iguodala, who is interesting. He is strong, quick and will drive the ball with confidence, which should open up the floor for the Warriors perimeter shooters.
2) Small ball lineup
When the Warriors are in a fast pace game, are trailing, or are playing a slower and older team, this is where they should have a big advantage. It will be fun for fans to see Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala out on the floor at the same time. Curry and Thompson, two of the top shooters in the league can make any shot on the court, and Barnes and Iguodala like to finish at the rim – with authority.
3) Big man rotation
The Warriors made two very nice and affordable acquisitions over free agency, signing Marreese Speights and Jermaine O Neal, who last played for Cleveland and Phoenix, respectively. Both can play either the power forward or center position, but it seems that Speights was brought in to back up David Lee and O Neal to back up Bogut. Speights is only 25 and seems to be part of the plan for the near future, signing a three year contract with Golden State. O Neal, only on a one year deal, had a great comeback year with the Suns, and is perfectly suited for the backup center spot on the roster. These four players – Bogut, Lee, Speights and O Neal – can all play with each-other and it will be compelling to see how coach Jackson places them together. If O Neal is having a solid season, Jackson will really have his hands full when Festus Ezeli returns from injury.
There are things that are certain – Curry and Thompson can make a basket from anywhere, David Lee will provide 10+ boards a game, Iguodala will improve the team in many facets, among more. But how will the Dubs use the new look bench to handle the point guard position, down low and different types of lineups. Mark Jackson has a lot of new toys, and it will be up to him to use them in the most effective way.