With the start of the 2013-14 regular season approaching, it’s worth taking a look at where the Golden State Warriors stand among the league’s top teams before a single game is actually played.
A couple of notable websites have already submitted power rankings rating the NBA’s best teams and that gives us some type of indication with respect to where some pundits feel the Warriors fit in.
Before delving into Golden State, a tip of the cap is in order for the two-time defending champs. The Miami Heat are at the top of every list and rightfully so. Erik Spoelstra is bringing back the same core that secured two consecutive championships and furthermore, the Heat has added Michael Beasley, Greg Oden and Roger Mason Jr.
The Dubs are obviously looking at dethroning Miami, but they will have to get out of a tough Western Conference in order to get an opportunity, provided that the Heat get back to the NBA Finals.
It’s worth noting that Golden State has won contests against the Heat in back-to-back campaigns during the regular season. It begs the question: how big is the gap between the Dubs and the team at the top of the food chain?
In the interest of full disclosure, I am already on record in picking the Dubs to get bounced in the first round of the 2014 playoffs. However, there are smarter people out there with different opinions.
According to a few experts, the gap is somewhat big between the GSW and the Heat, but not Grand Canyon big. Indeed, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein released his rankings of all NBA teams and the Dubs finished eighth.
Basically, the Warriors have a shot at finishing the season as one of the 10 best teams in the league. To be fair, power rankings tend to be a little subjective, thus soliciting a second source is hardly the worst thing in the world.
We glanced over at CBS Sports’ ratings (by Matt Moore) and found an answer that was nearly identical with ESPN’s. Indeed, Moore placed the Warriors in the seventh spot and offered this take:
Well, they just gave a huge amount of money to a guy who has played 44 games since October 2011. Given their vaunted history, what could possibly go wrong? Still, this team is stacked.
Health concerns will always plague this team (Andrew Bogut has seen numerous injuries and Stephen Curry’s ankles have been problematic at times during his career), but all indications are that this team has a shot at being one of the top squads in the NBA if they enjoy a relatively clean bill of health in 2013-14.
How good though? Apparently, good enough to represent the west in the title round.
In an interview with NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper, former NBA great Gary Payton picked the Warriors to make the 2014 NBA Finals:
I think they’re going to be there [NBA Finals],” Payton said. “I think they have a good chance of going. Picking up Andre (Iguodala), that was a good pickup for them. I think if (Andrew) Bogut plays well, they’re going to have a great chance. I just really do believe that. And I think Mark Jackson’s doing a great job down there. I’m really proud of my city. That’s why I mention it. People always think about our city as being the crime city. But they don’t understand. We’ve got a lot of good people coming out of there doing great things in athletics and doing a lot of things that’s positive. We want these kids to understand that they can do the same thing and come out and just keep our generation going that’s coming out of that area.
The Warriors clearly have talent and they also acquired some collective experience in the 2012 playoffs, which might help them along the way. The Dubs will need a couple of things to go right in order to make a run at the Western Conference crown, but they have a few of the ingredients needed.
The Dubs have a lockdown perimeter player in Iguodala as well as a great interior defender in Bogut. Great defensive teams tend to survive long in the postseason and this is particularly true when they are complemented by a relatively balanced offense.
Interestingly enough, the Warriors’ offensive firepower is part of the reason that Bill Simmons of Grantland ranked Golden State as the ninth best team in the league in his NBA preview with Jalen Rose (video below):
Simmons made the argument that the Heat were vulnerable in the finals because the San Antonio Spurs bombed them from 3-point range. This is pertinent in the case of Blue and Gold because they present the same long-range proficiency. A hot Warriors team can take out any team in the league.
Let’s not forget, Golden State was the only unit to pose much of a threat to the Spurs in 2013 Western Conference playoffs. Thus, it’s not inconceivable that the Dubs might come out of the west.
Enjoy opening night of the season….
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