The Scouting Report: Golden State Warriors
Projected starting line-up: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut.
New additions: Head coach Steve Kerr, Leandro Barbosa, Shaun Livingston, Justin Holliday.
Departures: Head coach Mark Jackson
The Warriors bandwagon has been picking up speed since early in the preseason when many started seeing the way they played under new coach Steve Kerr.
The Warriors have been hyped as contenders to win the West under the new direction of Kerr, taking over for Jackson who led the Warriors to a playoff series win two seasons ago before falling in 7 games to the Clippers in last year’s first round.
Much of conversation during the summer and even into the beginning of the season has centered around Golden State’s shooting guard Klay Thompson. There were rumors of a potential swap for Kevin Love with Minnesota, but those never came to fruition.
There are hopes that Thompson can become an All-Star and remove thoughts about a “what-if” situation with Love.
The Warriors showed Klay Thompson how much they care about him with a 4-year, $70 million deal. He rewarded the Warriors with a career-high 41 point night against the Lakers on Saturday night. The Lakers are awful and it’s kind of depressing watching them against a team like the Warriors. Still, the Blazers will have their hardest defensive task of this young season on Sunday.
Curry is the league’s best shooter off the dribble and is still priority number one for any defense facing them. But reviews of their new offense, and watching the game last night, have shown a lot more movement in their sets.
“Offensively, they are a very potent team,” said Terry Stotts about the Warriors. “They have a lot of movement, off-ball screening, not as much one-on-one (as last season).”
One of the more interesting wrinkles that the Warriors have shown in their first two games is not starting small forward Andre Iguodala. The Warriors have started the younger pair of Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes at the forward spots with David Lee still injured.
Although it would seem like a no-brainer for Stotts to play Wesley Matthews or Nicolas Batum on Curry, they could also wait to feel out what is a different Golden State team before they make switches.
The Blazers could also make some changes to their coverages against Curry to attack him more, but he’s such a gifted and willing passer he often burns those blitzes.
Offensively, the Blazers’ outside shots eluded them down the stretch of their loss to the Sacramento Kings on Friday. They moved the ball well, at least in the fourth quarter where Stotts was pleased with the team’s shot selection, but they shot 26 percent.
The Blazers have been in the bottom 10 in passes per game according to NBA.com/stats in the first two games but it’s hard to glean into how much that really means. As John Schuhmann wrote a few weeks ago for NBA.com, there is no direct correlation between ball movement and offensive efficiency.
It may be a little bit of a mixed bag in the first two games. But some credit should go to the Kings who did an excellent job of sealing off the paint against the Blazers as a team. Their wings helped like hell in the paint and were long enough to still get out to shooters.
Still, Portland’s offense is coming of a season of elite performance where you don’t expect them to struggle the way they did. But teams go cold over 82 games and we’ve just finished the first two. Portland could use a Damian Lillard-type game out of Damian Lillard, who has missed a lot of the looks he normally makes in the first two games.
Also, these teams do seem to have a little bit of a rivalry with the last two meetings being decided by a total of 3 points.
But, without Mo Williams on the Blazers there is less of a chance things will get a little heated.
Still, this should be a fun game starring arguably the league’s two best backcourts and certainly the most prolific outside shooting backcourts from last NBA season.
Curry and Thompson made a combined 484 threes last season while Lillard and Wesley Matthews combined for 419.
And against the now well-paid Thompson, Matthews will get another opportunity to make his case as the league’s best “two-way two-guard.”