Bogut’s thought process is defense first and defense second. At Media Day, I asked him how he thought he would be used in coach Mark Jackson’s offense, and he immediately said his focus was only on defense. While that answer may seem cliche to some, it is refreshing around these parts to have someone on the team who genuinely doesn’t care about scoring but instead wants to prevent it.
He may not dazzle Oracle Arena like Ellis did for many years, but if Bogut can stay healthy and on the court, he helps bring stability to a team that has needed it for a long time.
3. Klay Thompson
While a big part of the reason the Warriors were willing to part with Monta Ellis was the ability to bring Bogut to the Bay, another reason was the team’s confidence that Thompson could develop into a solid starting shooting guard. And right they were.
As soon as Ellis packed his bags for Milwaukee, Thompson was immediately thrust into the starting lineup and proved that his scoring ability at Washington State was no fluke, averaging 18.6 points and shooting 38 percent from 3-point range.
While Thompson doesn’t quite solve anything defensively on the perimeter, he is improving in that area and his size is that of a more prototypical 2-guard. That doesn’t leave the Warriors with the extremely undersized and defensively inept backcourt that they possessed during the Ellis-Curry era.
Thompson has slowly started to add more to his game to complement that sweet stroke. He has tried to become more of a complete player, putting the ball on the floor and taking it to the rim, thus forcing defenders to respect his drive. Since he doesn’t need a whole lot of room to get his shots up, that tiny extra space he creates will greatly benefit him and the Warriors’ offense.
4. The rookies
For a team that could have had no picks in this past June’s draft, the Warriors’ rookie class looks pretty good. After a solid tanking effort toward the last half of the 2011-2012 season, the Dubs were able to hang on to their first-round pick to add to the late first-rounder and early second-rounder they acquired via trade.
Those three picks ended up being Barnes out of North Carolina, Ezeli from Vanderbilt and Green from Michigan State. (They also added a late second-round draft-and-stash pick in Ognjen Kuzmic who in all likelihood will never don a Warriors jersey.) Through Summer League and preseason, these three rookies made it known quickly that they would make an impact – not down the road, but this season.
Barnes is the most touted of the trio and currently is in the running to start at small forward. Ezeli has taken over the starting center role throughout the preseason with Bogut still on the mend and has performed well above rookie standards, providing solid defense and rebounding.
Green will find it the toughest to get on the court, given the players ahead of him at the wing. But with the praise he has received from the coaching staff and local media, he looks to be a player that will force himself onto the court with his hustle and toughness.
By most accounts, the Warriors came out winners in the 2012 draft; their picks have gotten off to pretty decent starts in their pro careers. We will see how they adjust to playing an 82-game schedule, but so far, they haven’t raised any red flags.
5. Some people outside of the Bay actually think they can make the playoffs
On a national level, the Warriors have been pretty much an afterthought and rightfully so. Losing season after losing season will turn away not only potential free agents but also the media.
Now there aren’t many, but there are those outside of Northern California who think the Warriors have a shot at grabbing one of the lower playoff spots in the Western Conference. Usually these thoughts are confined to those in the Bay Area, but with a much-improved roster and an ownership group determined to change the culture of the team, some people are starting to take notice.
While the playoffs will still be a tough goal to achieve given the depth of the Western Conference, if the Warriors remain healthy – which is undoubtedly the theme for this season – they have the pieces in place to compete and be one of the eight best in the West.
The fact that they are even in consideration as a potential playoff team is a small but positive step for the Warriors.
The fans out here will take what they can get.
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