Forecasting the 08-09 Warriors

The Golden State Warriors were very active this offseason, so predicting how they’ll perform this season is tough, especially with the injury to Monta Ellis. I’m going to proceed with this preview in a structured fashion. First, I’ll take a look at what the Warriors did well last season and what they did not do so well. Following that, I’ll look at all the players they added or lost during the offseason. Finally, I’ll discuss how those changes will affect the Warriors’ strengths and weaknesses.

The Warriors scored 111.8 points per 100 possessions last season, good for fourth best in the league. Looking at the four factors, you can see that they shot the ball at a high percentage and did not turn the ball over often. Surprisingly, they weren’t bad at grabbing offensive rebounds despite often playing with small lineups. One area in which the Warriors did struggle was getting to the free throw line, where they ranked just 25th in the league.

On defense, the Warriors struggled, ranking 23rd in defensive efficiency. They were poor at every aspect of defense except for creating turnovers, where they ranked 4th in the league. I would bet that their knack for creating turnovers negatively affected the other areas. The biggest problem was defensive rebounding, a skill that the Warriors were the worst in the league at.

Key Additions
Anthony Randolph - Rookie
Richard Hendrix - Rookie
Corey Maggette – Ranked 61st in 07-08 Composite Score
Anthony Morrow – Rookie
Ronny Turiaf – Ranked 150th in 07-08 Composite Score (slightly above average)
Marcus Williams – Ranked 309th in 07-08 Composite Score

Key Losses
Baron Davis – Ranked 55th in 07-08 Composite Score
Patrick O’Bryant – Not enough minutes to qualify for Composite Score
Mickael Pietrus – Ranked 183rd in 07-08 Composite Score
Matt Barnes – Ranked 295th in 07-08 Composite Score
Monta Ellis (injury, will miss part of season) – Ranked 62nd in 07-08 Composite Score

That’s a lot to digest there, but you can pretty much ignore Hendrix, Morrow, and O’Bryant, because those players either did not play significant roles last season or will not this year. There’s a chance Randolph and Williams might not either.

Basically, it comes down to adding Maggette and Turiaf and losing Davis, Pietrus, Barnes, and Ellis. Maggette is actually not much worse than Davis, and the two are similar in the fact that they are great on offense and just so-so on defense (although Davis could be much better). Turiaf is a solid player and a decent pick-up. Pietrus was a solid rotation player as well, so his loss hurts just a little bit. Barnes did not help the Warriors last season, so they should be able to absorb his loss.

Look at all those movements and it seems like the Warriors should be right where they were last season. In fact, they could even be better because of the inevitable improvement of young players. The Monta Ellis injury, however, ruins all of that. He was one of the Warriors best players last season (just slightly behind Davis and Andris Biedrins according to Composite Score), and a perfect player for the team’s style.

It will be hard for the Warriors to maintain such a high shooting percentage, and their turnover rate will most certainly go up thanks to the losses of Davis and Ellis. Defensively, there’s no reason to believe the Warriors will dramatically improve. Their biggest weakness, defensive rebounding, is not something that Turiaf is particularly good at. He’s not terrible, but it will take a lot more than him for the Warriors to improve in that area.

All hope is not lost, though. For one, I don’t think the Warriors have to be bad defensively. Their players aren’t necessarily bad defenders; they’re just not focusing on it. In fact, I think the Warriors could improve their defense without totally demolishing their style (I’m looking at you, Phoenix). The challenge is just figuring out how to make it work exactly.

Another reason for hope is that the team is very young with the exception of Maggette, Stephen Jackson, and Al Harrington, and even those players aren’t dinosaurs. As I said before, young teams inevitably get better. Ellis is out for a few months, but his career isn’t over. Biedrins is a very good center. Those two should keep Warriors fans hopeful for the future. Just don’t expect a very good team in 08-09.

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