As the NBA regular season approaches, we preview the upcoming campaign with the “Highs and Lows” system — predicting the respective ceiling and basement for each team.
Added: David Lee, Ekpe Udoh, Dorell Wright, Louis Amundson, Charlie Bell, Rodney Carney, Dan Gadzuric, Jeremy Lin
Lost: Anthony Randolph, Corey Maggette, Anthony Morrow, Raja Bell, Ronny Turiaf, Kelenna Azubuike, C.J. Watson, Anthony Tolliver
Ceiling: 40 wins
In a summer where hundreds of NBA players switched uniforms (or found themselves without a uniform), few teams had more roster turnover than the Warriors. And that’s a good thing. Last year’s G-State squad finished 26-56 overall, including an 8-33 road record, complete with the worst team defense (112.4 ppg) and lowest rebounding margin (-9.7 rpg) in the League. Hall of Fame coach Don Nelson is out, replaced by former assistant Keith Smart, there is a new ownership group, new uniforms, and a bunch of new players. The culture is changing in the Bay, which can only be a positive for now … Monta Ellis had one of the best statistical seasons of anybody in the NBA (25.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 5.3 apg, 2.2 spg), only nobody noticed because the Warriors were so bad and because Nelson’s fast-break system tends to overshadow his players’ talent. Ellis is simply one of the most explosive scorers in the League, and this summer made efforts to squash any beef (real or perceived) between him, the front office, and backcourt mate Stephen Curry … Smart move by Monta if he wants to stay in the Bay, because Curry is being groomed as The Franchise. After the All-Star break last season, Curry dropped 22.1 points, 5.5 boards, 7.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game while hitting 44 percent of his threes. He emerged as a surprise triple-double threat on any given night, and is already one of the most lethal shooters in the League going into his second pro season … Plagued for years by poor defense weak frontcourts, the Warriors spent their 2010 Lottery pick and about $25 million addressing those areas this offseason. David Lee arrives from New York following his All-Star Game debut, having put up 20-and-10 numbers with the similarly up-tempo Knicks. Lee will start alongside defensive-minded center Andris Biedrins. Ekpe Udoh was drafted No. 6 overall out of Baylor, where he led the Big 12 in blocks as a junior. He broke his wrist during summer league, however, and will be sidelined until January or February. The Warriors also acquired big men Lou Amundson from Phoenix and Dan Gadzuric from Milwaukee, hope to have former Top-10 pick Brandan Wright healthy, and brought in perimeter defensive specialist Charlie Bell from the Bucks … One silver lining in the laundry list of injuries last season was the discovery of Reggie Williams. The D-League call-up, who led the NCAA in scoring twice at Virginia Military Institute, proved to be an effective NBA scorer and should be a solid offensive weapon as a sixth man.
Basement: Same sh*t, different season
For all the cosmetic changes to the roster, are the Warriors really any better in the areas that sent them into the tailspin from which they’re trying to recover? Nellie was scapegoated for a lot of what went wrong, but he is still the NBA’s all-time leader in coaching wins. Smart is a rookie head coach who served his apprenticeship under Nellie. Why should we believe he’s better equipped to handle a young roster that’s grown accustomed to losing? … It feels like Lee is the Warriors’ first bona fide All-Star big man since Nate Thurmond, but he’s not exactly a great defender. Lee’s Knicks were almost as bad as the Warriors defensively … Udoh has talent, but his injury looks like just another in a long line of reasons to believe the Warriors are cursed. Brandan Wright had the same amount of hype behind him when he came out of college, and look where he is today … Monta said all the right things over the summer, but is he really ready to deal with his new role? Not too long ago, Monta was The Franchise here, and now it’s obvious that’s not his spot anymore. He’s basically in the same position Gilbert Arenas is in Washington. How will he react? … Curry might be more of a fantasy darling than a real-life future All-Star. His numbers are great, but without Nellie around to give him free reign, many expect a drop in production if the Warriors slow down their pace. Not to mention, none of the games Curry shined in last year meant anything. So far he’s yet to move beyond a good-numbers, bad-team guy … Dorell Wright had a tough time cracking the starting lineup in Miami when they were a mediocre roster being carried by D-Wade, and now he’s projected to start for the Warriors. Did he get that much better over the summer, or are the Warriors just that bad?
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