Warriors take first of two preseason matchups with Kings
Stephen Curry led all scorers with 23 points, and the Warriors earned their first preseason victory. (AP IMAGES)
OAKLAND – These Warriors pass the eye test. They also pass the roster-on-paper exam. Yet their most impressive component is one not associated with this team since its last championship in 1975.
These Warriors are, should their luck hold out, deep.
That’s the visual that lingers in the mind after the first preseason game at Oracle Arena, a 94-81 win over Sacramento Monday night. And this is not just because the long-downtrodden Kings are so clearly are a team in transition.
No, the Warriors actually have a wealth of functional parts, most of which come with considerable experience and all of which are in a variety of sizes.
To begin with, one wing with All-Star potential – either Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes – is likely to open the season coming off the bench. The other wing option, veteran Andre Iguodala, acquired in the offseason, is a certified All-Star.
Such riches are foreign to a franchise that went 16 years (1997-2013) between representatives in the All-Star Game.
But there’s more. Coach Mark Jackson has three reasonable options at point guard: Stephen Curry, Toney Douglas and Iguodala. Thompson also could play it in a pinch. That’s more than enough to offset the loss of veteran Jarrett Jack, who was so crucial last season.
The other key veteran reserve from last year’s playoff team, 6-foot-8, 240-pound power forward Carl Landry, has been replaced by 6-10, 255-pound Marreese Speights, who brings a reliable shot, a similar skill set, and blue-collar mentality.
Speights actually ran point on a third-quarter fast break, passing to Kent Bazemore, who lobbed it up for an Iguodala alley-oop.
If another important veteran reserve, 6-11 Jermaine O’Neal, can deliver 10-15 good minutes behind the slimmer and rejuvenated Andrew Bogut, the Warriors will be among the league’s best at the center position.
The concern in recent years, and rightly so, has been related to the health of Curry and Bogut. And both remain essential to the team’s loftiest ambition of chasing a championship. But these Warriors appear strong enough and deep enough to withstand a few bumps and bruises.
They are vastly deeper than the standard set by past Warriors teams, with the exception of the ’75 team which surrounded Hall of Famer Rick Barry with more depth and grit than pure talent.
This team still is growing. It’s developing on the fly. But when Jackson looks at his bench, he has to like what he sees. It has been a long, long time since a Warriors coach was blessed with so many acceptable choices.