Now that the Warriors are close to re-signing Brandon Rushand signing Carl Landry, their offseason work is pretty much complete.The Warriors have 15 players under contract, though not allthe contracts are guaranteed. Still, this is what the Warriors roster willlook like heading into training camp which begins in early October.Harrison Barnes, 6-8, 210 pounds,SF:Barnes was OK in summer league. He had his moments butoverall he didnt shoot well and he has work to do on his defense, like mostplayers coming into the league. Barnes doesnt look like an immediate star, buthes not without talent, either.Hes athletic and has good size for his position. It seemslike only a matter of time before hes the teams starting small forward. Andwho knows? It could be from Day 1 of training camp.Kent Bazemore, 6-5, 200 pounds,SF:Bazemores contract is not guaranteed, but that doesnt meanthe Warriors dont like him. They believe hes got a place on this team, if forno other reason than his ability to defend the perimeter. Bazemore played fouryears at Old Dominion and was the CAA defensive player of the year his seniorseason.Andris Biedrins, 7-feet, 240 pounds,C:It doesnt really matter anymore what has happened toBiedrins, only that it has and that hes under contract for two more years.Its pretty safe to say most Warriors fans have given up on Biedrins, andsometimes from afar it looks like Biedrins has given up on Biedrins.If Biedrins can help the Warriors in any way in 2012-13 itwould be considered a bonus. From a practical standpoint, Biedrins will becounted on less with Andrew Bogut on the team.Andrew Bogut, 7-feet, 260 pounds,C:He is the single-most important player on the Warriorsroster when it comes to impacting wins and losses. On offense, he gives theWarriors a versatile player who can set up teammates or score a little bit forhimself. On defense, he occupies space, blocks shots and takescharges.Of course with Bogut, it comes down to whether he can puttogether a whole season without injury. If he gets hurt again, its tough tosee the Warriors having a successful season.Stephen Curry, 6-3, 185 pounds,PG:Most Important player No. 1A for the Warriors is Curry, whois coming off a season of injury. Curry played just 26 games in 2011-12 becauseof right ankle issues, and if he has another season like that, the Warriorswill be in trouble.The Warriors are more equipped to sustain a setback toCurry, however, thanks to the acquisition of Jarrett Jack. Still, if theWarriors want to make noise in 2012-13, Currys going to need to be healthy.Festus Ezeli, 7-foot, 270 pounds,C:Ezeli figures to battle Andris Biedrins for backup minutesat the five, but dont expect too much, too soon. Ezeli is still very rawoffensively, and while he can occupy space with his frame, hes prone tocommitting fouls.Still, everyone agrees hes a quick learner so you wouldthink that in the second half of his first season youd start to see sometangible progress here.Draymond Green, 6-7, 230 pounds,PF:The Warriors came to terms with Green on a three-yearcontract worth 2.6 million, according to a report. That the Warriors locked ina second-round pick at guaranteed money shows one thing: Golden State likesGreen a lot. Well see how much as the season unfolds.Jarrett Jack, 6-3, 195 pounds,PG:Jack was the most significant acquisition of the offseasonfor the Warriors, giving them a versatile third guard to go along with StephenCurry and Klay Thompson. Jack can play either guard position, and hes a defensive upgradeover both Curry and Thompson.Make no mistake, Jack is going to get minutes and hesgoing to get a lot of them.Richard Jefferson, 6-7, 230 pounds,SF:After acquiring Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson in theMonta Ellis trade last March, the Warriors quickly moved Jackson to San Antoniofor Jefferson. The move yielded the No. 30 pick which turned into FestusEzeli but it also left the Warriors with a player a little out of place ontheir roster.Jefferson has two more years remaining on his deal at bigmoney and hes on the downside of his career. Hell be expected to mentorrookie Harrison Barnes, but its easy to see Jefferson wanting more of a rolethan that.Charles Jenkins, 6-3, 220 pounds,PG:At this point, Jenkins appears to be the teams third pointguard, but dont rule out the possibility of him getting minutes. Startingpoint guard Stephen Curry missed most of last season with right ankle issues,and Jarrett Jack, the backup, missed the last 13 games of 2011-12 because of astress fracture in his right foot.Carl Landry, 6-9, 248 pounds,PF:In an ideal world, the Warriors might have preferred a moredefensive-minded power forward to sign. Landry isnt a great post defender andhes just an OK rebounder.Still, he is a legitimate scorer off the bench and he has avariety of ways to score around the basket. The other thing thats intriguingabout Landry is he has an ability to get the foul line and make his free throwswhen he gets there.David Lee, 6-9, 240 pounds, PF:Lee has his detractors, but he will head into the 2012-13season as the Warriors most-known commodity, and that says something. We allknow Lee isnt your prototypical back-to-the-basket, physical power forward,but his numbers are still his numbers and theyre nothing to scoff at.He averaged 20.1 points and 9.6 assists last season for theWarriors. Its possible Lees numbers could take a hit this upcoming season with better players around him but that doesnt necessarily mean Lee canthave a very productive season.Brandon Rush, 6-6, 210 pounds,SF:It seems apparent that the Warriors strategy of tellingeveryone under the sun that they would match an offer sheet for Rush worked.Rush never got an offer sheet from another team, which left him to figuresomething out with the Warriors and Warriors alone.Expect Rush to be the first shooting guard off the bench andfor him to also get minutes at small forward.Rush averaged a career-high 9.8 points per game last seasonand shot 45 percent from beyond the arc. But as good as Rush was last season,the Warriors would like to see him chip in more when it comes to defense andrebounding.Klay Thompson, 6-7, 205 pounds,SF:Thompson had an encouraging second half of last season forthe Warriors, scoring in double figures in 31 of the final 32 games. TheWarriors are hoping Thompson takes the next step in 2012-13, both improving onhis defense and his ability to get to the rim.Thompson had carte blanche offensively in the last six or soweeks of the season for the Warriors. He wont have as much free reign thisyear; but more efficiency will be expected.Jeremy Tyler, 6-10, 260 pounds,PF:While general manager Bob Myers and coach Mark Jacksoncontinue to support Tyler, it seems obvious theyd like to see more out of him.The teams No. 1 area of need right now is backup power forward, and yet Tylerhasnt been mentioned very much as a candidate to assume that role.Tylers contract is guaranteed for the 2012-13 season, butTylers role on the team is not.
OAKLAND – Kevin Durant drove to Oracle Arena for his Warriors debut Tuesday night, walked in feeling good and quickly got quite the horrific surprise.
The San Antonio Spurs started knocking on the door to the place and didn’t stop until they owned it.
The Spurs barged in and took what they wanted, everything from points and rebounds to wine and shaving cream. And the Warriors, as if bound and gagged, mostly watched helplessly in taking a 129-100 beating.
“A nice little slap in the face,” Steph Curry summarized.
“We got punched in the mouth,” Draymond Green acknowledged before adding the real takeaway line, “which I don’t know if it was quite a bad thing for us.”
This brutal flogging ends talk of a historically great start resembling that which the Warriors managed last season in winning their first 24 games. This puts to rest any cloak of invincibility for which they might have been being fitted, whether in their minds of those of their fans.
The Warriors were mugged on the glass, losing the rebounding battle 54-35, with San Antonio snatching 21 on offense and turning them into 26-4 advantage in second-chance points. The bigger, slower Spurs even outscored the Warriors 24-20 on the fast break.
“I’m sure we’ll be motivated for our next game,” coach Steve Kerr said. “I think our guys were embarrassed. I know I was.”
If embarrassing seems a bit strong, this surely was nothing less than a night of utter public humility. The curtain came up on opening night and there was CEO Joe Lacob shifting and twisting in his courtside seat, like a man getting teeth extracted without anesthesia, watching his Dream Team was destroyed.
“I didn’t have them ready to play, obviously,” Kerr said.
“The first game, you want to come out and protect your home court with the energy of the home opener to live throughout the game,” Curry said. “And we didn’t do anything to let that happen.”
Curry's numbers were not awful, at least not in the grand scheme of things. He posted 26 points, four assists and three rebounds – but added four turnovers.
And Durant, who started the game 4-of-4, delighting a crowd that had visions of 3-pointers raining from above, also submitted a glossy stat line, finishing with 27 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks.
But the Warriors were dragged across their own floor. Oracle Arena has been their sanctuary for two full seasons, during which they posted a 78-4 record.
The best they can do now is 40-1.
“No one is satisfied with the way they played tonight, especially myself,” said Klay Thompson, who scored 11 points on 5-of-13 shooting. “In the long run, this will benefit us. It’s a long season, and not everything is going to be perfect from the jump.”
So, no, the season is not over. Not even close. Remember, LeBron James’ debut with the Miami Heat six years ago ended with an 88-80 loss, followed by seven more losses in the next 16 games.
But it’s always alarming when someone storms into your house, looks you in the eye and takes what they want.
Opening night for the Warriors delivered a painful reminder that regardless of how imposing they might be or how many All-Stars are on the payroll, nothing will be given. Effort and desire, as they discovered, can be more than a great equalizer.
The Warriors now know that victory is not preordained, that if they want the glory and the spoils they believe to be theirs, they will have to prove it. Every night.
The Golden State Warriors wasted no time dismissing one of the 95 Narratives for this season – namely, the one that has them gunning secretly for 82 wins.
In a game very reminiscent of last January’s 120-90 win over San Antonio, the Warriors played the role of “90,” or to be more specific, “100” in a richly deserved 129-100 mauling. They provided a fiercely anticipatory and Beyonce/Jay-Z-enriched crowd everything they came to see – in the Spurs.
Kevin Durant? Did swell. Won a lot of hearts. Draymond Green? Had bursts of good and moments of not. Stephen Curry? Numbers but not a lot of impact. Klay Thompson? Didn’t shoot well, and didn’t do much else to mitigate that fact.
But the real failures came not from the individual components but the sum of their parts. A disrhythmic offense that highlight moments obscured too infrequently, an undistinguished defensive effort across the board, no bench presence of any kind, a casual attitude toward possessions in general and an almost dogmatic refusal to engage in rebounding skirmishes – in sum, they exhibited a severe pre-title hangover nine months before the fact.
So with all that as prelude, coach Steve Kerr attacked the media horde with a squinty-eyed “Anyone got any good jokes?”
And knowing that nobody did – at least none better than the game that had just been concluded -- he got down to the duties of the postgame presser. He broke the ice with the throwaway platitude (“I didn’t have them ready to play, obviously”), the dismissive swat (“I think they were embarrassed tonight. I know I was”), the quick nuts-and-bolts analysis (“We missed easy shots, didn’t get a lot of loose balls, second efforts, third efforts, and we didn’t play with much physicality”), said the collective performance was massively inadequate at best (“’Strength In Numbers,’ it’s got to be about the group”), and the one dagger that will be the emphasis of Wednesday’s unpleasantness (“We didn’t really look engaged, like we were taking for granted that things were going to go well”).
Which brings us to the box score, where the locals were outrebounded, 54-35 (20-8 on the offensive end), outscored on second chances (24-4), and crushed by the non-starters (54-16 points, 24-6 rebounds). Durant had a less effective game than Kawhi Leonard, Green had a less impactful game than LaMarcus Aldridge, and Curry and Thompson were not as dynamic as second-year shooting guard Jonathon Simmons, local deadeye Patty Mills and the forever-young Manu Ginobili.
In short, it was not a coming-out party for the new dynasty, but a reminder that this is not last year, or the year before, and the Warriors are not nearly the finished product they seemed to present in 2014-5 or 15-6.
Their rotation is still a work in progress, and their combinations are even further away still. Kerr has been saying as much all summer and fall, and logic supports the fact that all teams take time to coalesce.
This is not to say they are going to be minus-29 bad; that would be, well, typical morning-after media analysis, for all fetid air that is worth.
But tonight was a good bucket full of icy well water to everyone’s sensibilities. Just as a year ago, the Warriors have been crowned champions by far too many amateurs before the rite of succession has even begun, and Kerr just received all the fodder he needs to drive home an early-season rebuttal to the ones most in need of hearing it: His players.
As for anyone else who needs to hear such a lesson – well, narratives don’t die that easily. The Warriors are the most covered team in NBA history (imagine the Bird Celtics or the Showtime Lakers in this era), and their failures will resound as much as their triumphs, and it’s all background noise come April 15.
You know, when the season actually starts.