Marreese Speights

Golden State Warriors: Are They Championship Contenders?

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

May 16, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (30, left) and power forward David Lee (10, right) react after game six of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle Arena. The Spurs defeated the Warriors 94-82. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors had a breakout 2012-2013 season. The Warriors defied expectations and captivated many basketball fans around the nation with their stellar, exciting play.

After their incredible playoff run last year, are the Warriors championship contenders now? They’re certainly close to becoming one of the superior teams in the Western Conference, but they’re not quite a championship contender yet.

One of the reasons why is because of the immense amount of talent in the Western Conference. The Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, and Houston Rockets are among the elite teams in the Western Conference, and some of them could very well contend for a championship. Out of all those foes, it will be tough for the Warriors to even become one of the top-four teams in the Western Conference.

Even if the Warriors are able to become Western Conference Champions, it will still be a long road to their first championship since 1975. Outside of the Western Conference, some of the biggest championship contenders are the Miami Heat, the Chicago Bulls, and the Indiana Pacers.

Even though the Warriors aren’t quite as established and experienced as some of the previously mentioned teams, the Warriors could certainly become a top-four team in the Western Conference this season. Here are some reasons why the Warriors are close to becoming contenders:

Why Andre Iguodala Will Help Harrison Barnes’ Development


This article was originally published on Let’s Go Warriors.

Many fans have feared that the Golden State Warriors’ addition of Andre Iguodala will stunt Harrison Barnes development. In fact, the opposite is true. If Iguodala starts and Barnes comes off the bench, this will actually help Barnes develop into a better player. Here are three reasons why:

1. Both Iguodala and Barnes have similar skillsets, so Iguodala will be a valuable mentor to Barnes, especially defensively.

Both Iguodala and Barnes are strong, athletic, and quick. Offensively, they play fairly similarly. They both like to drive to the basket using their quickness, they’re both explosive, and they can shoot threes pretty well.

Iguodala’s mentoring will help Barnes’ offensive game grow, but it will be even more valuable to Barnes on the defensive end. One of Iguodala’s strengths is his defense and his ability to guard multiple positions. Iguodala can use his expertise to teach Barnes how to become a better and more versatile defender. In addition to his defensive prowess, Iguodala’s veteran leadership and work ethic will set a great example for Barnes.

2. With Iguodala starting, it will allow Barnes to play more minutes at the power forward position, which he excelled at in the postseason.

The Warriors will most likely start Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Iguodala, David Lee, and Andrew Bogut. However, Mark Jackson will certainly want to utilize a smaller lineup, in order to play at a faster pace. At any point in the game or even when finishing games, Jackson could decide to use a lineup of Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Barnes, and Lee or Bogut.

With Barnes at the power forward position, the Warriors would be able to get into transition and spread the floor more. In the postseason, the Warriors thrived in these scenarios, especially because Barnes’ skillset matches up with the power forward position so well. He has great footwork in post-up situations, he’s faster than most power forwards, and he’s strong enough to keep up with bigger power forwards. Playing Barnes at power forward will benefit not just the Warriors, but also Barnes’ development.

3. With Iguodala starting and Barnes coming off the bench, Barnes will be able to play against the reserves of the opposing team, which will allow him to dominate offensively.

Coming off the bench, Barnes won’t have to share as many scoring opportunities with Curry, Thompson, and Lee. Instead, he will become the go-to scorer off the bench for the Warriors. If he’s playing alongside Toney Douglas, Kent Bazemore, Nemanja Nedovic, or Marreese Speights, he will become the first option on offense. He will be able to showcase his game even more against the reserves of the opposing team. Barnes would provide that instant scoring and energy off the bench that the Warriors lost when Jarrett Jack didn’t re-sign.

Instead of going up against LeBron James or Kevin Durant, he’d probably be facing the small forward or power forward in the opponents’ weaker lineup. This would allow him to take advantage of his superior speed and athleticism. In addition, when Barnes does play alongside Iguodala, Iguodala can defend the elite players like James or Durant, and Barnes can play more freely on offense and defense.

Fans fear that Barnes will play less minutes now, given Iguodala’s presence, and that this will hinder his development. However, whether Barnes starts or not, he will probably play around 25-30 minutes per game anyway, because of his skillset and value to this team. Also, even if he doesn’t start, Barnes could still finish games for the Warriors, if they choose to go small, or if someone is in foul trouble, much like how Jack finished games for the Warriors last year.

Barnes has incredible potential, so it’s understandable why fans could be worried about Iguodala hindering Barnes’ development. However, once the regular season starts and fans are able to see Iguodala’s game, they will see the positive impact that he will have on Barnes’s development. Even with Iguodala starting, Barnes could still have a breakout year for the Warriors next season.

Player Breakdown: What Andre Iguodala Brings to the Golden State Warriors


This article was originally published on Let’s Go Warriors.

On Thursday, the Golden State Warriors officially acquired small forward and nine-year NBA veteran Andre Iguodala. The 2012 Eastern Conference All-Star has played for the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets, and he has career averages of 15.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.7 steals in 37.4 minutes per game.

Iguodala, 29, has also played in 41 career playoff games, averaging 14.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.8 steals during the postseason.

In last season’s playoff series against the Warriors, Iguodala averaged 18.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 2.0 steals on 50 percent shooting and 48.3 percent shooting from three in 40.5 minutes per game.

Iguodala was offered a four-year, $52 million contract offer with the Sacramento Kings, but the Kings ultimately rescinded the offer. Iguodala wanted to be a Warrior, so he decided to wait and see if the Warriors were going to be able to move their large contracts and sign him.

“Mainly, the coach and the culture, the environment,” Iguodala said about why he wanted to sign with the Warriors. “I feel like they have a good culture there, a lot of great guys, great locker room. The way they’ve got those guys playing with such confidence, that comes from the coach.”

So what will Iguodala bring to the Warriors? Well, he brings a little bit of everything. Iguodala is an extremely versatile player who can play and guard several positions. He can score, he can rebound, he can pass, he’s good in transition, and he’s one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. He’s also extremely athletic, he can come through in the clutch, and he’s a fierce competitor.

Because of Iguodala’s defensive prowess, the Warriors now finally have someone strong enough and quick enough to guard the elite small forwards like Kevin Durant and LeBron James.

Just ask Stephen Curry how good of a defender Iguodala is. Iguodala used his length, size, and quickness to disrupt Curry throughout the Warriors’ playoff series against the Nuggets.

Off the court though, Curry and Iguodala are good friends. They both played on the USA men’s national basketball team that won the gold-medal in the 2010 FIBA World Championship. Curry claims that Iguodala will have a positive impact on the Warriors’ team chemistry.

“From my experience with him, he’s a really low key guy who works hard,” Curry said. “He’s not high-maintenance or anything. Doesn’t have an ego. That’s pretty much the make-up of our locker room. He can be a vocal guy, a guy that can check somebody but be respectful about it. He fits that accountability style we’re going for.”

Iguodala seems like the perfect pairing to this Warriors team. First of all, he’s aggressive on offense and likes to drive to the basket, which will help Klay Thompson and Curry get open on the three-point line.

Second, as Curry alluded to, he will be a great addition to the Warriors’ locker room. His veteran leadership and impressive work ethic will set a great example for the younger players on the Warriors such as Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Kent Bazemore, and Nemanja Nedovic.

Third, Iguodala thrives in an up-tempo system, which he played in while on the Nuggets. His speed and athleticism in transition will certainly be a valuable asset to the Warriors.

The Warriors have added other key pieces to their rotation including Nedovic, Marreese Speights, Toney Douglas, and Jermaine O’Neal. The Warriors will have a deep, well-rounded roster next year, and they could definitely make a deep playoff run. The addition of Iguodala makes this Warriors team a serious contender in the Western Conference.