Golden State Warriors: Previewing The 2017-18 Roster

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: (R-L) Stephen Curry
OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: (R-L) Stephen Curry /

The Golden State Warriors are gearing up for the 2017-18 season, and here is a look at the team’s roster.

The Golden State Warriors are not built in the traditional model of a basketball team. They don’t follow the point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center blueprint.

So we will look at the roster in three parts: ball handlers, wings and bigs.

Nominally, Stephen Curry is the team’s point guard. But his primary role is not ball distribution – nor should it be, as he is one of the greatest shooters in the history of the NBA.

While the 29 year old Curry is one of the key ball handlers, it was versatile forward Draymond Green who led the team in assists last year at 7.0 per game, compared to Curry’s 6.6 assists per game.

The other starters are also excellent passers. For example, Kevin Durant averaged 4.8 assists per game in his first season in Oakland.

With another season of familiarity with Steve Kerr’s offense and his teammate’s preferences, look for Durant to increase his assist totals in 2017-18.

Andre Iguodala re-signed with the team and will again be the team’s key ball handler off the bench. Last season he averaged 3.4 assists per game, identical to his 2015-16 output. So expect more of the same from Andre Iguodala.

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The role of the secondary off-the-bench ball handler was manned by Shaun Livingston last year. The Warriors are careful with his minutes – he averaged just 17.7 minutes per game last year – and while he handles the ball across half court and can initiate the offense, Livingston averaged just 1.8 assists per game last year.

Another off-the-bench ball handler last season was Ian Clark. Clark also was capable of bringing the ball across the timeline, but averaged only 1.2 assists in 14.8 minutes per contest. He left the team to sign with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Golden State Warriors
Golden State Warriors /

Golden State Warriors

In sum, the team brings back its core of ball handlers/point guards, with only Clark departing.

In the positionless basketball approach the team uses, where nearly all players can handle, pass and shoot, the traditional point guard role is not emphasized.

Yet, the team has an embarrassment of riches in this area.

The wings bring amazing versatility. In the starting line up, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green can do it all: shoot, pass, handle and defend.

Durant is coming off a Finals MVP performance, has the 2013-14 MVP trophy on his mantle and has made eight straight All Star teams. And defensively he raised his game last year with a career high 1.6 blocks while also setting a career low in turnovers with 2.2 per game (career average 3.2 per game). Durant also led the Warriors in rebounds. He is 29 years old.

Thompson’s hallmark is his consistency. His shooting percentages are remarkably stable – as an example his 85.3% free throw percentage in 2016-17 is exactly his career percentage. His scoring average has increased every year of his career (22.3 ppg last year) and his defensive versatility allows him to handle opposing point guards and shooting guards. He is 27 years old and has made three straight All Star teams.

Green was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2016-17 – while leading the league in steals – and offensively, leads the team in assists (as mentioned above) and has enough three point shooting proficiency (33.4% career) to draw defenders to him and keep the lane open for his teammates.

In addition, he was second on the team with 7.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks last year. Green is 27 years old and has been to the last two All Star games.

Wings off the bench include the 33 year old Iguodala and 32 year old Livingston, who were covered as ball handlers, but defensively fit in as wings. Listed at 6’6″ and 6’7″, respectively, they team with the 6’7″ Thompson to allow for lots of switching on defense, along with versatile defenders Durant and Green who can pressure on the perimeter and defend the paint.

Patrick McCaw fits that mold too, without the ball handling. The soon to be 22 year old is a long 6’7″ defender who hopes to build on his rookie season, in which he averaged 15.1 minutes per game.

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And the rich got richer in the off season, as Nick Young (32 years old, 6’7″) and Omri Casspi (29 years old, 6’9″) signed with the team, providing veteran depth that fits the defensive versatility and skilled offensive player mold the team has used as its wing player blueprint.

In addition, the Warriors have landed a pair of players from the Oregon Ducks’ Final Four teamDillon Brooks and Jordan Bell.

Bell’s versatile Draymond Green-like preseason performance has some excited about what he may be able to contribute right away.

In season signing Matt Barnes was the only wing departure from last year’s title team.

For a perimeter oriented team like the Warriors, the center position can be an after thought. At the conclusion of last season, there were questions about the Warriors’ ability to bring back all three of its free agent bigs: starter Zaza Pachulia, David West and JaVale McGee.

But Bob Myers and company were able to pull it off. And each player brings a different look to the Warriors’ lineup.

Pachulia (33 years old) fits with the starters and does the dirty work of screen setting and defending. West (37 years old) can hit an elbow jumper and brings toughness with second unit. McGee (29 years old) brings crowd pleasing dunks and rim protection off the bench.

This group is older than the other position groups, so look for 2016 first rounder Damian Jones (22 years old) and 2015 first rounder Kevon Looney (21 years old) to get developmental minutes.

Former developmental big James Michael McAdoo signed with the Philadelphia 76ers organization in the off season. He had played 108 games across three seasons in Oakland.

After looking at what the team returns and has added to the roster, it is easy to see why the Golden State Warriors are strong favorites to repeat as NBA champions.