Every season of Warriors basketball brings about new hopes and dreams. This year will be no different. With Monta Ellis showing up to camp early, the new acquisition of David Lee and Stephen Curry a year wiser, there is plenty of reason to expect more than what was shown in 2010. Without further ado here are a few things to hope for this year.
1. Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry will become the best undersized backcourt in basketball since Joe Dumars and Isaiah Thomas.
They already were the most productive backcourt in the league last year; combining for 43 points, 11.2 assists, 8.5 rebounds and 4.1 steals a night. Offensively the numbers are there. The defensive part of the equation can be accomplished if the W's change their philosophy. Since the W's play at one of the fastest paces in the league they are often out of position on the defensive end. Hopefully this year, in order to help out Curry and Ellis, the team will give a little more room to the perimeter players around the league and force opponents to beat them with jumpers. Kind of like how the Cleveland Cavaliers played defense last year as they didn't have great shot blockers or a great defender at the point guard position in Mo Williams. Monta has no problem staying in front of his man and playing the passing lanes, and Curry will have no problem out producing his opponent on most nights. Hopefully the team will simply lay off most of the backcourts in the league this year and allow them to cast away from a safe distance. This in turn will allow Curry and Ellis to have a bit of a head start the other way since they won't be beneath the free throw line on every defensive possession.
2. Andris Biedrins will be healthy and happy.
Larry Reilly ought to be commended for his acquisitions this offseason, especially for that of Dorell Wright. Along with Andris Biedrins, the W's will feature 2 players in their starting lineup who are known for defense first, a welcome change. Andris is an excellent rebounder and shot blocker (when healthy). Now that he has David Lee hanging around the paint with him he will have far less of a burden on his shoulders for cleaning the glass. Hopefully this will keep him healthy for a full year. Perhaps Dorell Wright will prevent more uncontested cruises to the lane than last year's starter at small forward.
3. David Lee will continue to produce.
In years past when the Warriors have gotten a player that they thought would thrive in their system, he usually regressed and the trade ended as a disappointment. There is no reason (aside from injury) that Lee shouldn't be able to be just as effective with the W's as he was with the Knicks last season. He has been widely criticized for his defense but it wasn't like he was playing next to great defensive players in New York. Lee will benefit the most from playing with Biedrins this year because now his defensive liabilities-which every player has-will be significantly masked, as long as penetration is kept to a minimum and Biedrins remains healthy. With Lee on the boards and the pick and roll with Curry or Monta the W's will have shored up two of their biggest weaknesses from last year: rebounding and frontcourt scoring.
4. Dorell Wright will start and have a breakthrough year as a defensive stopper. Also, he will take no more than three attempts from deep and will connect on at least one per night.
Dorell is coming from a team that emphasized defense his entire career, so hopefully he will be a positive influence on the rest of his new mates. Since scoring will not be a problem for this team he should start and be able to focus on two objectives: Defense and floor spacing.
Dorell shot .389% last year from downtown, but this year he will be playing with a more capable cast of shooters and passers. So hopefully 1 for 3 a night will be the worst case scenario. Dorell will benefit greatly from the open looks that David Lee will provide off the pick and roll as well as Monta Ellis' drive and kick abilities. Hopefully his strengths won't regress from the new surroundings and system.
5. This is the dream: the Warriors win the NBA title! The hope is playoffs.
Honestly, on paper the W's should make the playoffs. Lee, Ellis and Curry will form the second most potent offensive trio in the league. As long as the team can play average defense or even slightly below that, they should outscore most opponents. Last year it took 50 wins to make the playoffs, that number should come down to around 45 or 47. The W's gave up 112 points a game last season, if they can bring that number down to about 105 or 106 which is still below average, they will make the playoffs.
6. Hopefully the Warriors WILL NOT trade Monta Ellis. There will be a forthcoming article as to why they shouldn't, but for now, just don't do it.