Dennis Velasco asks Evan Zamir of Golden State of Mind some questions about the Golden State Warriors, easily the hottest team in the Association right now! Read the insight and see Evan's generosity in his final score prediction. Ha!
1) The Golden State Warriors are the hottest team in the NBA right now, both by record and by sheer appeal thanks to game-winning buckets and Stephen Curry. They're winners of 10 in a row and if you dig deeper, in their last 17 games, they're 13-4 with the four losses going for a combined 14 points, three by four points and one game by two points. The losses were to three of the Western Conference's better teams - Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs. The other loss was to the much-improved Charlotte Bobcats on the road. After this game against the Brooklyn Nets, the Warriors will then have EIGHT more home games the rest of the season... possible number one seed?
Yes, it's certainly possible. Of course, that's different from saying it's "probable". I think San Antonio will be the stiffest competition going forward, but Portland doesn't seem to be going away either. OKC pretty much keeps rolling along even without Westbrook (Durant is just that good). I think we can stay ahead of the Clippers given that Paul is out for an extended amount of time. But Warriors' #FullSquad is one of the best teams in the West, and I do not think it is ridiculous to argue we are or will be potentially *deserving* of a #1 seed, if at full strength.
2) The thing I always hear about the Dubs when people talk about them is how surprisingly good their defense is. What do you attribute that to? Is Andre Iguodala's addition having that much of an impact? How about having a healthy Andrew Bogut protecting the rim and grabbing boards? Uh oh, did I just jinx him?
It's hard to fathom at this point how people can still be surprised at how good we are defensively. We have two obviously elite defenders in Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala. Klay Thompson has become a legitimate "shut down" defender on the perimeter, especially when matched up against a team's secondary offensive threat (Iguodala typically handles the primary offensive threat on the wing). Draymond Green coming off the bench doesn't get talked about much outside of Warriors blogs and Twitter, but he is arguably one of the top 3 defenders in his draft class with Davis and Drummond being the other two. Draymond can and has guarded literally every position on the court.
One of the benefits of being able to defend the perimeter at multiple positions is that as long as the opponent does not have an interior scoring threat, we can run David Lee at the 5 and go small with any team in the league. Our perimeter defense is that dominant when we have Iguodala, Thompson, and Green on the floor together. In 110 minutes together, units with those three on the court have held the opponent to 88.1 points per 100 possessions (via nbawowy http://nbawowy.com/query/uw9lckdykg7ujtt9).
So I like to say that some narratives change on a dime while others change directions like a super tanker. I guess the Warriors were so bad defensively for so long, that it is just terribly difficult for people to view us in any other way. I can only hope the day will come when Charles Barkley realizes that the Warriors are winning as much with defense (arguably more) than offense.
3) Harrison Barnes was on his way to being one of the better players in the league, especially after his strong postseason showing last year. However, with the acquisition of the aforementioned Iguodala, many thought that Barnes' development might be stifle to some degree. Yet, his numbers are strong and he's getting a good amount of burn. How has he looked to the everyday fan, particularly when he comes off the bench or when he's part of a small ball type of rotation?
Admittedly, I am one of the more outspoken "Harrison haters" among Warriors fans. I'm not sure I agree with your assertion that Barnes "numbers are strong". Actually, I know for a fact I don't agree with that. His 3PT% is good, but when he is not spotting up for a 3-pter or posting up pint-sized point guards, Barnes has been very inefficient in isolation and post-up opportunities. Basically, he is not adept right now at creating his own shot off the dribble, and has displayed a consistent weakness in finishing at the rim on his drives. Those areas need to be addressed.
Furthermore, Barnes has often, perhaps more often than not, looked, frankly, invisible on the court when playing with the Warriors "Garbage Squad" second unit (as I like to call them) which typically consists of himself playing along with Draymond, Mo Speights, Kent Bazemore, and Toney Douglas. That group has looked awful offensively and Barnes has not really been able to step up and provide the type of bench scoring threat that, say, a Carl Landry or Jarrett Jack gave us last season.
Harrison seems to be at his best when he can take advantage of "gimmicky" mismatches (like posting up Tony Parker in the playoffs). But I don't think we can rely on that very often as a strategy. I think Harrison has some real work ahead of him. As people like to tell me repeatedly, "He's only 21." Well, that excuse only lasts a few more months. I'm hoping for the best obviously.
4) I don't think you can deny that Stephen Curry is a legitimate MVP candidate this season. What has he done to get on this level? What changes are you seeing in one-half of the Splash Bros.?
I have been on the "Stephen Curry is legitimate" bandwagon from day 1, so I tend to agree with Mark Jackson's statement last season that "People are coming to the hospital late. The baby was already born." Curry has been a star since his days at Davidson, and while he has surely improved aspects of his game each season, I think a lot of this (deserved) hype is just more eyes being on the Warriors and seeing him in nightly highlight reels and nationally televised games.
With Jarrett Jack having left the team, Stephen Curry is responsible more than ever for being the primary ball handler and "pure point guard" on the floor, and the increase in his assists clearly demonstrate his ability to fill that role expertly. There's a great YouTube video if you can find it of Bobby Knight talking about Curry before the draft, in which he says Curry is the best passer he's ever seen in college. I think it will take the bigger stage of the playoffs for people to finally start putting Curry in the same class as the Pauls and Rubios of the world when it comes to his passing (and ball-handling) ability, but the kid just flat out know how to play the game. He has the vision and the talent to find his teammates, often in an extremely creative fashion. Of course, this is partially the genesis of his "turnover problem", which I think comes part-and-parcel with that style of play (unless you're Chris Paul who is actually an alien brought to this world to pass round orange balls to tall people). The other large factor in the Warriors high turnover rate is that after Curry and Iguodala, the team really lacks consistent ball handling ability.
5) What are three to five other things that Nets fans should know and will the winning streak continue tonight? Give us a final score!
1. #FullSquad is a huge freakin' deal right now in Warriors fandom. You need to know this. It explains everything. 2. David Lee is better than you think he is. Even on defense. 3. Andrew Bogut is arguably as dominant a defender now as he was a few years ago before all the injuries. His offense is starting to come around this season, which should be scary for the rest of the league. 4. There are many Warriors fans, including myself, who value Draymond Green more than Harrison Barnes. Basically, what I'm saying is, watch Draymond Green. If you don't know who he is now, you will "get it" after just a few minutes of paying attention to him. 5. The Warriors are for real, yo!
Final score: Warriors 96 Nets 94 Gonna be a good one!
DV's Prediction: Golden State Warriors 102, Brooklyn Nets 95... keepin' it real!