Blazersedge staff writer Chris Lucia will be writing team-by-team previews over the next month as we count down to the start of the 2013-14 season. All team previews can be found right here.
2012-2013 record: 47-35, No. 2 in Pacific Division, No. 6 in Western Conference
Roster additions: Seth Curry, Toney Douglas, Andre Iguodala, Ognjen Kuzmic, Nemanja Nedovic (Rookie, No. 30 overall), Jermaine O'Neal, Marreese Speights
Roster subtractions: Andris Biedrins, Jarrett Jack, Richard Jefferson, Carl Landry, Brandon Rush
This year's incarnation of the Golden State Warriors should be one of the most entertaining teams in the league to watch when they have the ball in their hands.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are two of the NBA's best outside shooters, and they start in the same backcourt. Nine-year veteran wing Andre Iguodala uses his athleticism to do a little bit of everything, and All-Star David Lee is a double-double machine in the post.
Coach Mark Jackson also has solid depth on his bench with reserves Toney Douglas, Harrison Barnes, Marreese Speights and Jermaine O'neal.
There's no doubt the Warriors are going to continue lighting up the scoreboard this year. It'd be impossible not to with so many weapons available.
Defense, overall health and front court depth may stand in the way of this team that's looking to challenge the Clippers for supremacy in the Pacific Division, though.
Golden State fans point to the acquisitions of Iguodala and Douglas improving a defense that didn't really excel at much last season - besides keeping opponent's shooting percentages somewhat low, while managing to still give up over 100 points a game. Both guys are seen as solid perimeter defenders, and many consider Iguodala one of the league's best all-around players on defense.
Center Andrew Bogut -- when healthy -- takes up space in the middle, rebounding and blocking shots at a high level. He's just a bit, uh...fragile lately, you could say. In the last two years, he's played in less than a third of the Warrior's regular season games. He also missed at least 13 games in four of the five preceding seasons and sat out almost 50 games in 2009.
In short, Bogut certainly can combine with Iguodala to help form an improved Warriors defense, but he'll have to reverse his career injury trends if Jackson wants to prevent himself from starting 35-year-old center O'neal - who's actually still a decent defender. O'Neal also chronically suffers from injuries that prevent him from playing, however, and he probably can't contribute to any extended stretch where he averages more than 20 minutes a game at this stage of his career. He's a solid backup, sure, but he's not going to be the most reliable insurance policy if Bogut misses time.
Power forward David Lee often plays defense like it's optional, but his rebounding ability and knack for scoring in the paint make him a pretty good player otherwise. Still, he can't be relied upon to stop opposing teams from scoring and Curry and Thompson don't really scare anyone with their defensive abilities, either.
Essentially, Iguodala will have to play his token brand of hard-nosed defense, Bogut will have to remain off the injured list and the players must buy into Jackson's defensive game plan for the Warriors to become the elite defensive team their coach thinks they can be. Iguodala and the majority of his teammates should fulfill any requirements on their end, but Bogut's health will be a question mark for this team until proven otherwise.
Anyway, who wants to talk about defense when Golden State could shoot their way into more 120-point games than possibly any other team in the league this upcoming season? Curry shot a staggering 45.3 percent from behind the arc last year, Thompson shot 40.1 percent and the Warriors were better than every other team in the NBA from three-point range.
If Lee dominates the paint again, there's no reason why this team can't lead the league again in three-point percentage. Speights can do some damage inside but he also likes to drift into the mid-range. Second-year wing Barnes scored a bit from close last season, but he also hit a decent percentage of his outside shots. Iguodala can get to the rim and mix it up in the paint, but he also likes to attempt his fair share of threes, something that isn't necessarily his strong point at 32.9 percent for his career.
Still, imagine the inside-out game that can be perfected with Lee and Bogut demanding opposing defenses' attention in the paint, while Iguodala slashes and Curry and Thompson drain uncontested outside jumpers. If everyone's healthy and Jackson gets this offense to click, they will be a nightmare for other teams to guard -- do you go one-on-one inside, preferring to stay out on the Warriors' deadly perimeter players? In that case, Lee and Bogut could have a field day scoring in the post, depending on the match up.
If opposing defenses pack the paint and stop Golden State's front court and slashers from scoring at the rim, Curry and Thompson have more ability than any other duo in the league to punish from outside.
There aren't many teams in the NBA with the individual defenders to match up well against the high-powered Warriors offense. On the flip side, Golden State has a hard time stopping teams from scoring on them, as well. The addition of Iguodala immediately boosts the credentials of their perimeter and team defense, though, and Bogut's healthy return signifies a likely improvement in post-defense.
Golden State is deep and talented enough to make a run at the Pacific Division title, and no team would want to face them in the playoffs at full strength. The real wildcard is front court health, and it remains to be seen whether or not a defensive game plan relying on the health of Bogut is sustainable for a full regular season and an extended playoff run.
-- Chris Lucia | Twitter