For the first season in recent memory, the Golden State Warriors are essentially a shoo-in for the playoffs out of the Western Conference. The only questions remaining are just how many wins will the Warriors tally up, and where will they fall in the conference standings?
Key acquisitions by general manager Bob Meyers and other members of the Warriors’ front office, along with an exciting end to last season, have Golden State buzzing around league-wide chatter. Golden State made its most impactful signing in more than a decade by inking guard Andre Iguodala to a four-year, $48 million deal. Though key bench players Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry are no longer on the team, pieces like Jermaine O’Neal, Marreese Speights and Toney Douglas have been signed to help fill their shoes.
The biggest concern for the Warriors this season, however, will be the team’s health. Golden State isn’t doing too bad in that category right now, but a couple names who contributed heavily to last season’s success will be riding the bench when this season tips off. Forward Harrison Barnes, who really shined in the playoffs against the Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs averaging 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds over 12 games, is battling a foot injury and is not a for sure thing come opening night. Fellow second-year man Festus Ezeli, who is vital to the Golden State bench at the center position, will miss at least the first four weeks of the season.
The current health of Stephen Curry, David Lee and Andrew Bogut is pleasant for Warriors fans, but they are all very injury-prone and could derail the team’s playoff chances should an injury occur. However — knock on wood — those three are doing just fine right now and they are ready to lead this Golden State team into a season that has more hype built up than any of the franchise’s previous years.
So with all this in mind, what will Golden State’s record look like after the next 82 regular season games? I predict their final record will be 57-25, good enough for third place in Western Conference. The Los Angeles Clippers will have the best season out west behind new head coach Doc Rivers, and the Spurs will continue to do their thing under Gregg Popovich. Those are the only two teams in my mind standing in the way of the Warriors from potentially representing the Western Conference in the NBA Finals. I don’t buy Dwight Howard with the Houston Rockets — he’s more of cancer than he’s worth.
Only time will tell exactly how well the Warriors will fare in 2013-14. The only thing we know is that this Golden State team is built to compete with the best teams in the NBA. Translating the hype surrounding the team into a successful season, though, is a whole different story.