2011-12 Record: 23-43, fourth place in Pacific Division, 13th in Western Conference
2012 NBA Draft: F Harrison Barnes (North Carolina, 7th overall pick), C Festus Ezeli (Vanderbilt, 30th overall pick), F Draymond Green (Michigan State, 35th overall pick), C Ognjen Kuzmic (Clinicas Rincon, 52nd overall pick)
Resigned: G Brandon Rush (2 years, $8 million)
Projected Starting Line-up: PG Stephen Curry, SG Klay Thompson, SF Richard Jefferson, PF David Lee, C Andrew Bogut
OFFSEASON GRADE: B -
There is a lot of optimism in the air around the Bay area for this Golden State Warriors franchise.
It all began with the Warriors selection of Tar Heel small forward Harrison Barnes in this summers draft.
Despite seeing his numbers marginally increase from year 1 to year 2 at North Carolina (in some areas, decrease), Barnes was still considered to be one of the better prospects in this years draft. Predicted at one time to be a top-5 pick (possibly top-3 if he came out a year earlier), dropping to #7 was an absolute steal of a selection for Golden State.
He’s incredibly athletic, has an excellent spot up mid-range game and an outstanding work ethic that’s absolutely contagious. Odds are he won’t be starting day 1, but he very well could be. The safe bet would be for Richard Jefferson or even Brandon Rush to get the starting nod at the 3 spot and bring Barnes along slowly. He has the potential to grow into a huge star down the road, so there’s really no need to rush his development at this point and time.
Golden State also got a couple of value picks late in the draft with Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green. Neither player will see any significant minutes in 2013, but having a couple of highly skilled, high potential rookies at the end of your bench isn’t the worst thing in the world.
Ognjen Kuzmic? Never heard of him. Neither have you.
A couple of former New Orleans Hornets players found their way over to Golden State this summer. Starting Hornets point guard Jarrett Jack was dealt to the Warriors in exchange for small forward Dorell Wright. With New Orleans looking to the future with their #10 draft pick Austin Rivers, the services of Jack were no longer required. That’s no slight against Jarrett though. He’s a tremendous pickup for this Warriors squad. With the constant injury problems surrounding Stephen Curry, acquiring Jack will at least give the team some insurance at the point guard position, as well as add some much needed leadership to an extremely young roster.
Signing Carl Landry to a 2 year deal also shores up the depth at the 4 and 5 spots. He rebounds the basketball at a high rate and has an underrated post-up game that goes largely unnoticed at times. He signed with the Warriors because he believes he can find significant playing time with this team. As David Lee’s primary backup (possibly even seeing time at center as well), finding steady consistent minutes will not be an issue for Landry.
All of these offseason moves improved the roster in more ways than one, but the success of this Golden State Warriors team will revolve around 1 major question in 2013…..
Can they stay healthy?
Starting center Andrew Bogut played a grand total of 12 games in 2011-12, none of which were for the Warriors. Stephen Curry only played 26 games after suffering from a badly sprained ankle.
Golden State was 12-14 in games with Curry and 11-30 without him, showing just how important Stephen is to this team.
Early reports are indicating that both Curry and Bogut will be recovered in time for training camp, but it will be a while before we know if there will be any lingering effects from their ankle surgeries.
It’s never an encouraging notion to have your 2 most important players have a history of injuries, but hopefully they can rebound from their ailments and return to the all-star caliber players they once were.
One thing is for sure, Warriors fans are running out of patience with this team.
The pieces are there. With a bit of luck and a heck of a lot of progression, this Golden State team could easily find themselves sneaking into one of those final playoff seeds in the Western Conference.
Now just stay healthy!
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports