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1 GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

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A MODEST PROPOSAL ...

MAKE JORDAN BELL A STARTER—EVEN WHEN DEMARCUS COUSINS ARRIVES

For the past few years, the Warriors have embodied first world problems—when they actually have problems, that is. Of course, this season's primary task is integrating mountainous four-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins into the team whenever he recovers from a torn Achilles. The contingency plan begins with Jordan Bell, the undersized-but-versatile sophomore big who made a serious defensive impact in spot minutes last season. It's likely Bell starts at center to open the season, but if things go well in Golden State (hint: they tend to), there will be a legitimate case to keep him there all the way through June.

Bell only logged 14 minutes per game as a rookie, but he averaged 11.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 1.6 steals per 36 minutes. That won't directly translate, but it's clearly a positive indicator, and the wealth of scorers around him should facilitate his offensive development and let him focus on protecting the basket and defending pick-and-rolls.

Whenever Cousins makes it back, bringing him off the bench to punish reserve big men for a couple shifts a night would be quite a luxury.

STARTING 5

COACH STEVE KERR

2017--18 RECORD: 58--24

PREDICTION: Win NBA Finals

PG STEPHEN CURRY (3 [SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING])

26.4

PPG

SG KLAY THOMPSON (22 [SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING])

44.0

3FG%

PF DRAYMOND GREEN (13 [SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING])

7.3

APG

C JORDAN BELL

3.6

RPG

26.4

PPG

SF KEVIN DURANT (2 [SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING])

Durant, who was barely outscored by Curry (26.39 to 26.35), had the third-highest scoring average in league history for a player who didn't lead his team.

BENCH

SF ANDRE IGUODALA (87 [SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING])

C DEMARCUS COUSINS [NEW ACQUISITION] (68 [SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING])

PG SHAUN LIVINGSTON

(*) NEW ACQUISITION

(#) SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP GOLDEN STATE

THEY'RE GOING to need DEMARCUS COUSINS in certain series. Clint Capela was able to stay on the floor in the West finals; Cousins would have helped there so they could play big versus big. The Warriors have gotten away with KEVIN DURANT and DRAYMOND GREEN playing the big spots but that can be shaky sometimes.... If I had to pick between Durant or STEPHEN CURRY to start a franchise right now, I'd take Curry. Durant has the ball in his hands a ton, too, but Steph is a great playmaker, decision-maker and so proven through three championship runs. He's still underrated right now.... The only things that will stop them from winning the title are injuries, the Cousins experiment backfiring, and Houston building on what they did last year and upgrading their roster at the trade deadline.... There's no doubt that age is catching up with ANDRE IGUODALA and SHAUN LIVINGSTON, but you still see their impact dramatically in the playoffs. They coast during the season. Their know-how and experience keeps them afloat during slumps.... QUINN COOK did a nice job earning himself a job down the stretch, handling the ball and running some offense when Curry was hurt. Their collective talent really makes life easy for fringe guys.... Give Draymond all the credit for his postseason performance. He was a monster. Incredible defensive impact. If you take him away from the Rockets series, they lose. I think he's going to be viewed as the best modern defensive player of this era when we look back in 10 years. I don't think it will be close either.