After going undefeated in the 2012 and 2013 Las Vegas summer leagues, the 2014 Golden State Warriors‘ summer league team left Las Vegas with a 2-3 record. Perhaps due to the Warriors’ lack of draft picks this year, the Warriors’ summer league team lacked draft-quality players who could lead the team or role players like Draymond Green and Kent Bazemore who filled in in the past. The team’s starting five, made up of Justin Holiday, Orlando Johnson, Ognjen Kuzmic, James Michael McAdoo and Nemanja Nedovic only contained one first-round pick, Nedovic, who was picked 30th overall in 2013.
Little if anything should be gleaned from win-loss records in summer league, however. Five to seven games is an extraordinarily small sample size, and the strength of a team’s summer league squad heavily depends on what phase of development a team is in overall. Older, veteran teams with a strong core focused more on acquiring talent through free agency instead of the draft often field weaker summer league teams. A prime example of this approach is that of the Los Angeles Clippers, whose summer league team has failed to reach .500 in each of the past three summers. Now that the Clippers have assembled their core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford, they have focused on improving through free agency, a quicker method of improvement, rather than developing drafted players.
The Warriors are in a similar stage of development; each member of the Dubs’ starting five has played at least three seasons and is too talented to be playing in summer league. Similar to the Clippers, the Warriors have a strong core group of players and are looking to expand via free agency to improve quickly, as evidenced by last summer’s signing of Andre Iguodala and this summer’s addition of veteran guard Shaun Livingston. The Warriors’ failure to make a splash in Las Vegas this summer is simply a symptom of a shift in the stage of roster development – hopefully, a shift that brings the Warriors closer to fighting for a title.