If you’re the general manager of the Golden State Warriors, how should you feel about the state of the team now that they have been removed from postseason action?
- They were 23-43 just a season ago, good for third worst in the Western Conference.
- Brandon Rush, arguably the team’s best perimeter defender and slasher, was lost for the season two games into the season.
- Andrew Bogut missed 50 games and labored through the entire season.
- Stephen Curry, once again, had multiple episodes of sprained ankles
- They were 47-35 this season and went beyond the first round of the playoffs.
- Curry proved to be a franchise-level player in the regular season and the playoffs. The decision to sign him early to a now-amazing contract helps their salary-cap situation.
- Bogut, even when playing at 50 percent, is an incredibly valuable asset when he’s on the floor. He has the entire offseason to get the troublesome ankle right.
- Klay Thompson, though mostly horrific in the second round for all but one game, proved to be a reliable defensive presence and at times dominant on the offensive end.
- Harrison Barnes proved that he will be a presence in this league when given the opportunity.
- Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli were absolute steals in the second round of the draft.
So mostly, there’s a whole lot of good here.
This team nearly took the San Antonio Spurs to a Game 7 with a hobbled Curry and Bogut. David Lee was out for most of the series (which may have actually been a positive) and Barnes didn’t get to play in a decisive fourth quarter of the elimination game after suffering an ugly blow to the head.
If a hobbled version of the current roster was good enough to get that far, why should the front office have to worry about making significant moves? Prior to this season, the team still lacked identity and nothing was established. The identity now, though, is all too clear – this is Curry and Bogut’s team, and the pieces around them have the potential to be brilliant.
The key now is to allow everyone to get healthy in the offseason to see what this team truly has. We have yet to see how a healthy Bogut and Lee can co-exist. We don’t know how the rookies will evolve, but one can only assume that they will get better. Rush will come back healthy. Thompson should continue to grow as he heads into his third season. Curry has only scratched the surface of what he is capable of. Even if they lose Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry to free agency, those are plug-gable holes now that there is an understanding of how the team can succeed.
The future for the Warriors is nothing but bright. Here’s what Bob Myers had to say about the current state of the team, from Tim Kawakami of Mercury News:
Q: In previous years, your owner certainly always mentioned being involved with the big deals, pushing to try to make a big deal. Has the playoff success this season changed your approach to that maybe–not as eager to look at all the big names this time?
-MYERS: I think a sense of desperation has passed.
I think that–whereas when you’re trying to do anything to get over the hump you do sometimes chase things that may be difficult to acquire. Whereas now, doesn’t mean we’re satisfied, it doesn’t mean we think our work is through, but we can be prudent and patient with opportunities as they come along.
I think the development of some of our players this past season changes how we value them in a positive way. What Harrison Barnes was able to do in the playoffs, Klay Thompson, a lot of our young players, to see that core grow together…
Clearly you’re evaluating your team every day, but the playoffs is a great opportunity to evaluate your team. If you’re a great performer in the regular season that can’t perform in the playoffs, then it would diminish your value. But we feel that a lot of our players–most of them, all of them–stepped it up in the playoffs and showed us what they could do. It was good to see on a bigger stage.
Onto other news from around the league: