After a thrilling playoff run last May, Golden State Warriors basketball is back once again. As exciting as it was to watch the Warriors succeed on the court, Golden State is now expected to fulfill high expectations. No longer is going out there and having fun on the Warriors’ barometer as they’re entering into the 2013-2014 season.
The pressure of consistency will hinge on their shoulders throughout this entire year. The Dubs played four games in the preseason thus far, and perhaps their performance in the exhibition games will shed some light on how well they live up to the hype.
Game 1: Lakers 104 Warriors 95
Harrison Barnes is a man who has also heightened fans’ expectations of his individual performance substantially with his worthy show against the Spurs in the second-round of the playoffs. The former rookie displayed promise after racking up 17.3 points and grabbing 7.3 rebounds per game against the eventual NBA Finals’ contestants. However, he struggled mightily in the first of the preseason games as he made merely 3 out of his 14 shot attempts (21.4%) and finished with four turnovers in 29 minutes.
On the flip-side, Barnes’ fellow wing player, Klay Thompson, promised to improve his ability to finish near the basket as he was heading into this season, and he did not disappoint. Although he made only two of seven three-point tries, he displayed his newly improved versatility on offense by finishing at the rim, connecting on the mid-range jumper, and showing off impressive moves in the post. He finished the game with an efficient 11-18 (61%) from the field and 26 points.
Perhaps Klay indeed had something to prove as Harrison replaced him in the starting lining up. It’s uncertain as to who will eventually garner the starting spot, but in the meantime the competition between the two players will only benefit them. Overall, the Warriors were quite rusty coming out of the gates in their first exhibition game. As a team, they shot a lousy 5-21 (23.8%) from beyond the arc and 35-88 (39.8%) from the field, which lead to the Lakers’ nine-point victory.
Game 2: Warriors 94 Kings 81
The Warriors’ accuracy on their shots slightly improved in their second exhibition game, as they connected 36 out of their 83 shot attempts from the field (43.4%) and 6 out of 16 three-point shot attempts. Klay Thompson continued his excellent play by scoring 17 points on 8 for 17 shooting from the field, and grabbed 4 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Barnes continued to struggle as he missed all four of his shot attempts in 6 minutes before sitting out the rest of the game with an inflamed left foot. After coming off the bench from his recent hip flexor surgery, David Lee had a strong outing with 14 points and 13 rebounds. He grabbed many offensive rebounds, and put the ball back in.
Iguodala was a jack-of-all-trades, scoring 7 points on 3-4 shooting, grabbing 3 rebounds, dishing out 3 assists, and stealing the ball 5 times in the Warriors’ win over the Kings. His athletic play exhibited just how fun to watch the Warriors can be this year (as if they weren’t before he signed); with a couple alley-oop jams, Iggy brought the crowd to their feet. To top it all off, Steph Curry’s brother, Seth Curry, made a three-pointer at the final buzzer that left the remaining crowd in awe as he wrapped up the Warrior’s first win in the preseason.
Game 3: Jazz 101 Warriors 78
While playing their third exhibition game in just four nights, after their second back-to-back game, the Warriors looked exhausted in their 78-101 collapse in Utah. They started out strong defensively by forcing 5 turnovers and making the Jazz shoot 3-14 in the first nine minutes of the game. As the game dragged on, however, the Warriors’ energy dragged down as the starters combined to shoot 15-45 (33%). The Jazz took full advantage of the Warriors’ debilitation by completing a 12-1 run near the end of the first quarter. Utah had six players who scored in double figures compared to the Warriors’ three.
The blowout as well as the absence of two of their rotation players (Jermaine O’neal and Harrison Barnes) allowed for the appearance of some of the Warrior’s younger players. Seven-footer Dewayne Dedmon garnered 12 minutes of playing time in which he collected 2 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks and 2 steals. Ognjen Kuzmic, another seven-footer who was drafted in the second round, accumulated 4 rebounds and 2 blocks in 9 minutes of play. As for the first-round pick, Nemanja Nedovic tallied 5 points and 2 assists in 7 minutes. With one roster spot remaining, it seems Dewayne could be a promising prospect for the future. Considering his length and skillset, it’s feasible that head coach Mark Jackson bestows the final roster position upon him.
Game 4: Warriors 100 Lakers 95
A rejuvenated Warriors team received their revenge against the Lakers on Tuesday. If anyone had any doubt that David Lee would be able to return back to form after his surgery, he certainly proved him or her wrong after his 31-point, 7-10 from the free-throw line, 6-rebound, and 4-assist performance. He demonstrated why he is one of the league’s best offensive power forwards. Andrew Bogut chimed in on the action, pulling down a game-high of 14 rebounds and scoring 9 points, nearly achieving a double-double. Stephen Curry had quite a game as well, scoring 24 points, including 14 fourth-quarter points to trump an 11-point deficit.
The Warriors have been rather inconsistent in the preseason, splitting their first four games 2-2. With their coach experimenting with different lineups, and with young players fighting to make the team, the intensity should pick up once the season begins and the team gets situated. Dewayne Dedmon has made the most out of the minutes allotted to him as he has produced 3.3 points on 55% from the field, 3.7 rebounds and1 blocked shot in just 10 minutes per game. Given his potential, Dedmon’s chances of making the final cut are bright.
The main question heading into the regular-season: who will receive the starting position between Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes? Both players have expressed their willingness to come off the bench as long as they retain significant minutes. Although the preseason has only been a small sample-sized piece of evidence, Klay Thompson has proven to be the qualified man for the job as his performance has clearly exceeded that of Barnes thus far.