Golden State Warriors: A few roster observations as the season nears

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 29: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors waits as he is watched by Lonzo Ball #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on November 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 29: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors waits as he is watched by Lonzo Ball #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on November 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Golden State Warriors, who kick off the 2018-19 regular season on Tuesday looking to three-peat, will face new challenges as they fine-tune the roster

As the Golden State Warriors concluded their preseason with a game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the SAP Center in San Jose (with Kevin Durant and LeBron James sitting out), we’ve gotten a glimpse of the Warriors roster’s strengths and weaknesses that will define the upcoming season.

All the hand wringing over the pending free agency of Durant and Klay Thompson can be set aside now. There’s a matter of winning another title that needs to be dealt with first.

The consensus among general managers and oddsmakers is that the Golden State Warriors are the favorites to repeat as champs of the upcoming season.

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However, every season brings new challenges, and 2018-19 finds the Warriors in uncharted waters that they will need to navigate in order to get back to the championship podium.

First, watching Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson in the preseason should have bolstered the confidence of all Warriors fans. The Big Three are basking in their basketball prime.

They appear to be more at ease with the game and more in sync with each other than ever before. As such, they are pretty much unstoppable. Durant can shoot over anybody. Curry can make buckets from anywhere on the court. Thompson is a catch-and-shoot master.

Has there ever been a better shooting trio in NBA history?

Draymond Green, the fourth All-Star, has been nursing a sore knee during the preseason and has played limited minutes. But as the team leader in assists and rebounds, he will be actively facilitating ball movement on offense and clamping down on defense.

The Warriors will be looking to develop and integrate the younger players. The question for this group is whether they will take the next step and learn to make good decisions and communicate on the court.

As noted earlier, the center position is the biggest question mark as JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, and David West are no longer with the team. Newly acquired DeMarcus Cousins has been playing in two-on-two and three-on-three scrimmages, but is still slated for a mid-season return from Achilles tendon surgery.

A proven scorer and passer like Cousins will make the Warriors even more formidable. But in the meantime, it will be Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell, and Damian Jones at the center spot.

Looney improved as last season wore on, and contributed mostly on the defensive side. Bell showed the most athleticism last year but was inconsistent after coming back from injury.

Damian Jones has gotten most of the preseason playing time, and frankly needed those minutes as he’s still a project. He has the athleticism, as demonstrated by a couple of highlight-reel dunks off of Curry passes in San Jose. But he hasn’t shown soft hands or consistent playmaking ability yet.

Among the other younger players, Quinn Cook returns as a backup point guard. Cook shoots well when teammates set him up, but he remains a perimeter threat as he lacks the quickness to beat defenders off the dribble.

Jonas Jerebko may be this year’s Omri Casspi. Acquired in the off-season, on paper he appears to have useful skills, but in practice, he doesn’t appear to be a good fit. The pace of the Warriors play appears to be too fast for him.

In the preseason, Jerebko often flailed wildly around the basket with little production. And he hasn’t been hitting his threes either, so it isn’t clear yet what his value is. Here’s hoping that he can adjust and contribute to the team.

And finally, where in the world is Patrick McCaw? As a role player who is apparently unhappy with being on a historic team, is he really going to start the season not being on any team?

The Warriors will be fine without McCaw. It’s just a shame that McCaw’s camp is overplaying their hand, and trying to pull a power move without any leverage.

dark. Next. Golden State Warriors: can they pull off the three-peat in 2018-19?

The Golden State Warriors will be chasing history this season with proven superstars, veteran role players, and young talent. They’ll start the season at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, October 16th.