Over the next month, we’ll be talking with a variety of people who cover each NBA team to talk a little bit about their team, and how they expect the season to go. We’ll also find out what they believe will be the most intriguing matchup when the two team’s meet during the regular season. We’ll begin with the Pacific Division and the Golden State Warriors. We’re joined by Adam Johnson, who is the owner of SeaDubsCentral, a site that covers the Warriors NBA Developmental League affiliate Santa Cruz Warriors. Follow adam on twitter @AdamJNBA and his site @SeaDubsCentral.
Wednesday, November 26th @ Orlando
Tuesday, December 2nd @ Golden State
Last Season: 51-31, Sixth Seed in Western Conference; First Round Loss To Los Angeles Clippers In Seven
December 31st: Golden State 94 Orlando 81
March 18th: Orlando 89 Golden State 103
Warriors Projected Starters
Point Guard: Stephen Curry
Shooting Guard: Klay Thompson
Small Forward: Andre Iguodala
Power Forward: David Lee
Center: Andrew Bogut
Below, Adam answers some questions for us.
Q: We’ve seen the Warriors really grow into a contender over the past few seasons. They improved their depth this offseason in the backcourt with Shaun Livingston and Brandon Rush. How important will those two be to take some of the burden off of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson?
A: Extremely important. Last season was the revolving door of suitable backups for either player. First it was Kent Bazemore and Toney Douglas, then Jordan Crawford and finally Steve Blake. It’s not like the Warriors didn’t try, but a lot of the Warriors issues last season stem from their lack of depth off the bench. If they can find contributions from their role players they should be able to find even greater success this coming season.
A: He’s already had an impact with this team and the level of transparency he wants to put forth. In discussions with his D-League counterpart, Kerr wants their to be an open dialogue between all parties and to make sure all parties are included. When you have perhaps some of the top assistants in the game in Ron Adams (defense) and Alvin Gentry (offense) coupled by younger talent (Luke Walton, Jarron Collins) there’s a nice balance of young and experienced talent on the staff to give different perspectives.
Obviously it’s easy to believe there might be some tension with some of the players, especially after Curry gave Jackson a glowing review in the press and wanted management to keep him on board.
Q: When the Magic and Warriors meet, what’s the matchup you’re most interested to watch?
A: I’m excited just to see how Oladipo competes against Klay Thompson. I see similarities between both on the floor and I thought Oladipo should have been named Rookie of The Year last season. I’m also excited to see the young gun Tobias Harris compete against David Lee. It’ll be fun to see how these younger stars compete against the top talent the Warriors have, those should be interesting matchups.
I really wanted to say Aaron Gordon but I don’t see him contributing a lot this season for Orlando, I think he’s a season away before he becomes the player the Magic are hoping for.
Q: Where do you see them finishing in the tough Western Conference this season? How deep of a playoff run can they make?
A: I think all the pressure is on the front office and Kerr this coming season. 51 wins in a tough Western Conference is not something to take lightly. Obviously with some of the losses at home to inferior Eastern Conference teams makes you believe this was possibly a 54-55 win team in reality. I see them in that range this season. They have a bolstered roster, improved coaching staff, and also have a returning backup center in Fesuts Ezeli who showed flashes of greatness in his rookie season.
A suitable backup for Bogut can’t be understated, especially with as injury prone as the Aussie has been recently. No disrespect to Jermaine O’Neal and the ungodly season he had last year, but Ezeli has much more upside to contribute to this team.
This team has the ability to finish the regular season as high as the No. 3 seed, but realistically I see them finishing either as the No. 4 or 5 seed this year. In the deep Western Conference, seeds ain’t nothing but a number. I see the Warriors making it out of the first round in their first season under Kerr and anything beyond that is gravy.