It may only be the Summer League, but the Warriors are thusfar unblemished in the 2012-13 season.The Warriors finished the Summer League 5-0, capping off thesurprising run with an 80-72 victory over the New Orleans Hornets.Golden State opened up a10-point lead by halftime and then cruised to victory.Three Warriors players got into double digits, led byCharles Jenkins with 15 points. Jenkins hit 5-of-9 shots and picked up ateam-high four assists.Harrison Barnes added 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting. Theseventh-overall selection in the 2012 Draft averaged 16.8 points over theSummer League but was inconsistent with his shooting. Barnes hit just 39.5percent of his shots.Kent Bazemore also contributed 13 points on Saturday, butpicked up eight fouls in 33 minutes and 27 seconds.Festus Ezili, the Warriors other first-round selection inthis years draft, scored eight points including a thunderous putback dunk inthe first quarter. Ezili got back in the scoring column after failing to hit ashot in the Warriors past two games.The Warriors other 2012 draft pick playing in the SummerLeague, Draymond Green, added nine points and six rebounds. Greens nine pointstied his high for the Summer League, in which he averaged 6.4 points per game.Klay Thompson did not play in the Summer League finale.The Warriors held the Hornets to 41 percent shooting butshowed some vulnerability around the arc. New Orleans hit 40 percent of its three-point attempts.
OAKLAND – Andre Iguodala’s game defies convenient categorization. The box score generally doesn’t do it justice, yet box-score stats heavily influence value.
Which puts Iguodala, in the final year of his Warriors contract, in a bit of quandary. The 32-year-old small forward is a key member of the team and would like to receive another contract. How does he suppress the thought of a new deal while simultaneously hoping to get one?
“It’s human to have it in the back of your mind,” Iguodala told CSNBayArea.com on Monday. “But I would never let that get in the way of us winning. That’s just the nature of my game anyway.
“Although I do try to sometimes, tell myself to be selfish when I’m out there, once I’m out there I’m always looking to make the right play. I may think, ‘Shoot, I should’ve shot it,’ but I end up passing it anyway because it’s the right play.”
Iguodala is a highly intelligent but largely intangible force who at his best plays lock-down defense, disrupts opposing offensive schemes, sets up teammates to score and occasionally pitches in with points of his own.
Coach Steve Kerr and general manager Bob Myers consistently express high regard for what Iguodala brings, but even they will have to decide whether the budget, beginning in 2017-18, will allow another contract for Iguodala.
It’s one thing for the Warriors to place immense value on Iguodala, the NBA Finals MVP during the team’s 2015 title run, but how would the rest of the league value a 33-year-old who spent three seasons as the team’s Sixth Man?
“They understand it here,” Iguodala said. “But the problem is you need another team, because if you don’t have another team, you can’t leverage. And it’s a business. I don’t care what you’ve done in the past.”
It’s conceivable that the Warriors, in drafting Patrick McCaw, believe they now have someone who eventually will give them much of what Iguodala provides. McCaw, 20, delights in guarding multiple positions while also playing a well-rounded offensive game.
Even Iguodala understands the comparison.
“It’s a little different,” Iguodala said. “As far as IQ, I definitely see it. He’s a very smart player. Very defensive-minded. Offensively, he’s underrated. He’s a great passer."
For now, the veteran is secure. He has a featured role on a team that is favored to win a championship. His contribution to the season will state is case to the Warriors.
“For me,” Iguodala said, “it’s just about playing with good intentions and hoping it works out."
It’s rare that the NBA champion, in this instance a team that slayed the ghosts of Cleveland past, to the delight of many beyond Ohio, begins defense of its title on the bottom of the marquee.
The Cavaliers won the title, but the Warriors are the undisputed stars of the show. They have dominated the offseason spotlight and will continue to do so. That’s that natural by-product of losing The Finals in historically devastating fashion and responding by reloading your nuclear offense with the cyber-nuclear weapon that is Kevin Durant.
Yet the season must be played before the next champ can be crowned or the MVP can receive his trophy. There will be interest and intrigue, rumors and speculation, allegations and insinuations.
With that, we open the door to the 2016-17 season. We will miss the departed icons – Kobe and KG and Tim – but there are games to play and votes to count, results to be debated and, of course, disputed.
Here are our key predictions for the upcoming NBA season:
Pacific Division: Golden State Warriors. After they lose two or three games in the first six weeks, they’ll be gold. Good luck stopping this offense. Assuming good health, Curry & Durant and Co. should approach 70 victories.
Northwest Division: Oklahoma City Thunder. With Kevin Durant, they were on the verge of a Finals appearance. Without him, Russell Westbrook and a very good supporting cast are good enough to win 55 games.
Southwest Division: San Antonio Spurs: It’s going to be strange, indeed, to see them without Tim Duncan. But they still have Pop. They’re not championship good anymore, but they are to be feared.
Western Conference Finals: Warriors over Spurs in 5.
Atlantic Division: Boston Celtics. Surprised? Don’t be. We’re not buying the Raptors. The addition of Al Horford, and a still-stingy defense, gives the Celtics the best team they’ve had since the Pierce-KG-Ray-Rondo years.
Central Division: Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s Ty Lue and basically the same crew. LeBron is still great after all these years. Moreover, take a look around this division. Nobody is a threat to even come close.
Southeast Division: Atlanta Hawks: We know. Horford is gone, Dwight’s tread has worn thin and Bazemore is making Klay Thompson money. The coach is solid. So, go ahead and take a look around this division. Who else is there?
Eastern Conference Finals: Celtics over Cavs in 7.
NBA Finals: Warriors in 5
MVP: Russell Westbrook, Thunder. OKC won’t dip as far as you might think. So when they do better than expected, all eyes will turn toward Russ. Runner-up: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers.
Rookie of the Year: Buddy Hield, Pelicans. Coach Alvin Gentry needed a shooter, and Buddy is it. Turn him loose and hope he avoids the Bayou injury hex. Runner-up: Kris Dunn, Timberwolves.
Coach of the Year: Brad Stevens, Celtics. A top-five coach handed a new toy by GM Danny Ainge, Stevens will see to it that his team wins some of those close games lost last season. Runner-up: Billy Donovan, Thunder.
Defensive Player of the Year: Kawhi Leonard, Spurs. The most versatile stopper in the NBA, and it’s hard to see that changing. Runner-up: Avery Bradley, Celtics.
Most Improved Player: Jusuf Nurkic, Nuggets. A future All-Star, 7-footer just turned 22, is confident and willing to mix it up. Runner-up: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks.
Sixth Man of the Year: Andre Iguodala, Warriors. Never underestimate a skilled 32-year-old chasing a championship in a contract year. Runner-up: Boris Diaw, Jazz.