Jackson and Iguodala weigh in on state of the Warriors
The Warriors entered Tuesday with a 25-14 record (1 GB the Clippers in the Pacific Division) and tied with the Rockets for 5th place in the Western Conference. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Programming note: Nuggets-Warriors coverage tips off Wednesday at 7 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (territorial restrictions apply)
OAKLAND – There is, with good reason, a measure of restrained contentment among the Warriors. Despite a very challenging first 11 weeks, they're 11 games over .500 and it's conceivable their best is yet to come.
But if they want to raise eyebrows around the NBA, they may not be blessed with a better time than the next 30 days.
Quite simply, it's Moving Time for the Warriors. And here are five reasons why they can climb up the standings:
1) Some of their Western Conference foes are reeling from injuries
The Thunder are without Russell Westbrook, who has undergone three knee procedures in eight months and hopes to return next month.
The Clippers are without Chris Paul, whose separated shoulder is not expected to heal until mid-February.
The Nuggets still await the returns of Danilo Gallinari (knee surgery) and JaVale McGee (stress fracture in tibia).
Suns guard Eric Bledsoe is out indefinitely after undergoing knee surgery last week.
Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (stress fracture) and Ryan Anderson (neck) are out indefinitely.
And the Lakers, well, they'd like to reacquaint themselves with future Hall of Famers Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash.
2) The schedule begins to smile upon the Warriors
Of the 14 games remaining before the Feb. 13 All-Star Break, 10 will take place at Oracle Arena – including nine of the last 11 after this weekend.
Among the teams coming in are the Nuggets, the Clippers and the Bulls – without All-Star-caliber players Derrick Rose (injured) or Luol Deng (traded).
3) The Warriors are about as healthy as they've been at any point this season
Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes missed games earlier this season. All are back and playing without restriction. Andrew Bogut has not missed a game and appears to be getting better as the season moves along. David Lee looks particularly spry. Klay Thompson likely will be among the minutes-played leaders for the next decade.
And the one player among their top nine who is out, backup center Jermaine O'Neal, is doing non-contact work and might return by the end of the month.
4) The reworked roster is starting to get comfortable with its ingredients
Iguodala is an entirely new acquisition, coming over last summer. Bogut missed most of last season and was limited when he did play. These two players pass as well as anybody in the league at their positions and have a full understanding of defensive concepts.
With so much focus on Lee and Curry during the Warriors' recent 10-game win streak, it was easy to miss evidence of Bogut and Iguodala becoming more and more comfortable with their teammates.
5) Curry's shooting will improve
Yes, he's going to the All-Star Game. Yes, he deserves to be there. And, yes, he's the team's signature player. But Curry has "struggled" with his outside shot.
Understand, "struggled" is a relative term. But defenses are designed to meet Steph at the 3-point line; when he gets there, there is a traffic jam. The result so far is a career-low 38.8 percent from beyond the arc – well below his previous low of 43.7 in his rookie season.
As the integration process continues, as Thompson and Iguodala make defenses pay for their disrespect, Curry will get a bit more daylight.
If the Warriors stay on their game, and acquire some reinforcements for the bench, they will be the first Dubs team in 38 years to reach 35 wins before the All-Star break.