One of the new features I want to bring to Warriors World is a window into how those connected with other teams see this team and Warriors fans. I am hoping to have one of these for each series and then scattered throughout the season.
The first edition of “The Alternate Side” comes from Mason Ginsberg, a talented writer for Bourbon Street Shots in ESPN’s TrueHoop Network. After the series with the Pelicans finished, I asked Mason about the series, the Warriors and the future of both teams.
1. What were your expectations coming in to the series?
It’s hard to have expectations when your young team that barely snuck into the postseason squares off with a top-10 regular season team of all time. With the horrible injury fortunes that the New Orleans has experienced over the past few seasons, I would have been satisfied with no one getting hurt and Anthony Davis being Anthony Davis (though I really wanted at least one win). While the win didn’t come, my main goals were satisfied, and on top of that, the Pelicans really proved that they belonged in the playoffs with how much trouble they gave a Warriors team that has become accustomed to blowing out opponents and resting starters in the 4th quarter.
2. What (if anything) surprised you about the Warriors?
Watching the Warriors in the regular season, I knew how solid the team would be on both sides of the ball. What continues to impress me the most is how effortlessly they can match up against any kind of lineup. Golden State’s starting lineup outscored New Orleans by 31 points in 61 minutes, but that lineup minus Bogut and plus either Livingston or Iguodala outscored the Pelicans by 19 points in 19 minutes. Curry-Barbosa-Iggy-Barnes-Green was +12 in 6 minutes. Bogut is one of the best defenders and rim protectors in the league, but the Warriors can be even more successful without him. Ridiculous.
3. Did you think that the Oakland/Warriors fans lived up to the hype?
While it’s hard to fully answer that question without actually being in attendance, they certainly seemed to fulfill their role quite effectively. I don’t really buy the notion that Monty Williams’ comments about the crowd after Game 1 made them even louder during Game 2; a fan of this Warriors team doesn’t need added motivation to get excited. If anything, the Pelicans’ ability to keep these games relatively close in the 4th quarter kept the crowd engaged all game long.
4. Rank the Warriors starters (Curry, Thompson, Barnes, Green, Bogut) in terms of their importance to Golden State’s success
That’s a great and difficult question; I think I’d go Curry, Green, Bogut, Thompson, Barnes. 1 and 5 were easy, but 2-4 were very tough. The main difference (apart from the head coaching change) between last season’s team and this one is the emergence and increased role of Draymond. Bogut was really close for me, but he doesn’t play the same kind of minutes as Green. It feels strange calling Klay Thompson the team’s fourth most important starter, but I feel like he could be replaced more easily than the three guys in front of him without the team’s win total being severely impacted. For example, if you swapped him with the 3-point shooting that the Pelicans got from Eric Gordon this season (44.8% from beyond the arc), I’m not convinced that the Warriors drop off that much, but that is much more of a testament to the versatility of the rest of the roster than it is a condemnation of Thompson.
5. If you had to guess right now, how far do you think the Warriors make it in the playoffs?
The Warriors were my pick for NBA champions before the playoffs, and that has not changed. If anything, the series against the Pelicans was the best thing for them – they completed the sweep and earned some rest, but they were tested in different ways in every game of the series, which should help to keep them from taking anything for granted. This team is simply too good on both sides of the ball, and their depth allows them to match up both big and small with anyone. The Spurs certainly present their biggest challenge, but I like Golden State with home court in that potential series. I cannot see any Eastern Conference team presenting any sort of real challenge, especially now that Kevin Love is out.
6. Anthony Davis and Stephen Curry- future NBA teammates? If so, where?
At this point, I cannot see Curry leaving Golden State when his contract expires in 2017. Iguodala and Bogut also become free agents that offseason, but Thompson and Green will both likely be under contract, possibly even Barnes as well. Since I don’t see the Pelicans trading Davis and the Warriors won’t have the requisite cap space to sign him outright, the only way I can see the two joining forces is in New Orleans. Sign me up! (But no, I don’t see this scenario as very likely.)
If you have any feedback on this series or suggestions for future interviewees, let me know @DannyLeroux.