2013--14 RECORD: 51--31 (2ND IN PACIFIC) COACH: STEVE KERR (1ST SEASON WITH WARRIORS)
The Warriors adjusted their roster only modestly in the off-season, despite talk of a deal for Kevin Love. Instead, the biggest change will come from how new coach Steve Kerr uses his players. His first order of business: upgrading the offense.
Last season's record three-point shooting from guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson gave the impression of a high-powered attack, but Golden State's performance was closer to average than elite. The Warriors ranked 12th in points per possession, the last of Mark Jackson's three underwhelming offensive teams. In fact, the league's third-rated defense is what propelled Golden State to its first 50-win season since 1993--94.
Kerr has stressed reducing turnovers (Curry's 294 were one fewer than John Wall's league high), stretching defenses through side-to-side ball movement and exploiting big men Andrew Bogut and David Lee as passers. The first-time coach—who will draw on his experience playing for Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich—should also rework the rotation. The starters, rounded out by small forward Andre Iguodala, were as brilliant as expected; their difference between points scored per 100 possessions and points allowed was 15.4, the highest net rating among the 29 lineups that logged 300 minutes. But Jackson made some dubious personnel moves, especially deploying all-bench units that lacked shot creation.
"We have a lot of ideas," says Kerr, "but we have to figure out what works."
24.0 PPG; 8.5 APG; 47.1 FG%; 42.4 3FG%
18.4 PPG; 3.1 RPG; 44.4 FG%; 41.7 3FG%
9.3 PPG; 4.7 RPG; 4.2 APG; 48.0 FG%
18.2 PPG; 9.3 RPG; 2.1 APG; 52.3 FG%
7.3 PPG; 10.0 RPG; 1.8 BPG; 62.7 FG%
9.5 PPG; 4.0 RPG; 39.9 FG%; 34.7 3FG%
8.3 PPG; 3.2 APG; 3.2 RPG; 48.3 FG%
A talented roster is used more creatively while easing Curry's offensive burden.
Kerr's growing pains lead to a so-so O, a decline on D and a fight to make the playoffs.
A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE WARRIORS
They were good on both sides of the ball last season, and now they have even more perimeter versatility.... Stephen Curry is the league's best shooter. He's close to the first tier of point guards, but I'd still put him behind Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker. Westbrook is a better defender, and Parker has won.... I love Klay Thompson. People talk about his top-shelf shooting, but his defense is underrated. He chases through screens and has good size, quickness and hands.... Andre Iguodala can guard one through four, but he doesn't put a full game together like he used to. He has a lot of wear and tear from playing big minutes and guarding top scorers for 10 years. He can still turn it up, though.... I like Harrison Barnes's potential on both ends. Maybe he'll be more comfortable after being demoted last season with Iguodala's arrival. Barnes could be in the mold of Toronto's DeMar DeRozan, who faced questions about his development and then became much better.... Being able to pencil in David Lee's steady numbers is nice. But when teams go small in the playoffs, can you use him at the five or does he lose his spot? ... Andrew Bogut is one of the better defensive centers when healthy, but he's not on the floor enough. Their interior depth is a question.... Shaun Livingston fits right in with their big, long perimeter players. They can play him at the one and have Curry run off screens. Livingston could finish games because he can guard multiple positions.... Every team wants an energy guy like Draymond Green. He competes on defense and can pick-and-pop.
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
Curry will operate in a new system.