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So, Are the Warriors a Playoff Team?

The Warriors’ roster is all but set. They’ve added size. They’ve added defense. They’ve added depth.

But have they added enough?

The Warriors are invested in this squad for the next two seasons. As it stands now, Andrew Bogut, Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Stephen Curry come off the salary cap after the 2013-14 season. That means this season will be vital in determining which direction Golden State heads in the future (who gets an extension, who becomes a free agent).  So there is no question, the Warriors are gearing up to win now.

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Is this team good enough to make the playoffs?

I say yes.

Warriors general manager Bob Myers did all he could to stop short of saying this is a playoff team. But based on the talent, depth and combination of youth and experience, I think this team should make the playoffs. And not making the playoffs would be a huge disappointment.

Obviously, health is the big question mark. But that’s the big question mark for every team. Any team in the league would suffer a drastic decline if they lose a star player. So let’s just presume health. If Andrew Bogut, Stephen Curry and David Lee are healthy, and they’re all expected to report to camp healthy, this team had better make the playoffs. They’re out of excuses.

This team should win 45 to 48 games. If they don’t, it’s because somebody didn’t do their job. Probably multiple people.

Certainly, the Warriors have some holes. The most glaring for me is they don’t have the athleticism you’d like on the perimeter. Jarrett Jack should help their ability to get into the lane. But the Warriors don’t have an electrifying athlete, someone who can physically get the upper hand on a good defender.

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Also, there are still questions about their defense, especially in the backcourt, though I think a healthy Bogut will help tremendously.

Youth is also  concern. The Warriors are relying heavily on a second-year shooting guard. They’re also needing for  at least two rookies to be part of the rotation (Festus Ezeli and Harrison Barnes).

And coaching is still a question. Jackson has shown he can get his players to play for him. But he and his staff are unproven in meaningful games. It’s a different ballgame when you have talent.

Still, the Warriors have some noted strengths.

They are highly skilled in the starting lineup. Their four penciled in starters (Bogut, Curry, Thompson, Lee) are all multifaceted in their skill set. Bogut and Lee may be the best pair of passing big men in the league. Curry and Thompson are probably the best shooting backcourt in the league. They should present some serious match-up problems.

They’ll have an experienced trio coming off the bench with bankable attributes. You know what you’re getting from Jack (defense, leadership, penetration). You know what you’re getting from Landry (inside scoring, offensive rebounding, energy). You know what you’re getting from either Brandon Rush (defense, outside shooting) or Richard Jefferson (slashing, spot-up shooting), whichever is not the starter. That’s pretty good depth without even mentioning the three rookies.

The Warriors have the tools to play halfcourt, a weakness over the years. I don’t think they’ll be nearly as good a running team because they don’t have the Monta Ellis type to push the ball and make something happen. But with good ball movement and unselfishness, they should be able to have a solid transition game.

What’s more, the Western Conference playoff teams aren’t as scary as they once were. The top five are formidable no doubt: Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Lakers, Clippers and Memphis. But after that, eehhhh.

Denver, Dallas and Utah were the last three teams in. Houston, Phoenix, Portland and Minnesota were the other four teams ahead of Golden State.

Denver is still solid though didn’t do too much to improve (adding Anthony Randolph and drafting Evan Fournier). Ditto for Portland (adding rookies Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard). I like Utah’s trade for Mo Williams (not moved by Jazz addition of Marvin Williams). But Mo Williams doesn’t vault the Jazz too high.

They’ll all be good teams. But if the Warriors aren’t better, or at least as good, that’s an indictment on the Warriors more than a testament to these other teams.

Dallas was looking bleak for a moment but re-tooled nicely. Still, adding Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo hardly makes them invincible.

Minnesota got better, adding Chase Budinger, Andrei Kirilenko and fellow Russian baller Alexey Shved. They should play some good team ball  once Rickey Rubio gets back.

Houston and Phoenix may have gotten worse. Other than the top four or five teams, who makes you say “the Warriors have no chance at finishing ahead of them?”

Playoffs should be an expectation now, not a wish, especially since this group has a short window to prove itself. And I don’t mean if everything goes right, and they pull off a magical run, they should get in. If everything goes normal, this team has enough to make the postseason.

If they don’t, they should be on their way out.

Marcus Thompson

  • Don

    “Any team in the league would suffer a drastic decline if they lose a star player. So let’s just presume health.”

    Perfect perspective. Warrior fans are looking around in their rear view mirror while they pee their pants.

  • Incredible

    Totally dude. Sans major injuries or disappointments, this is a 48-50 win team. Of course, injuries do happen, so fingers crossed…

  • Dan

    Actually, I think even if there is a significant injury or two, this team should still be expected to make the playoffs. It’s unusual for any team to not have at least one significant injury (20+ games) among its starters, and more common to have more than one. The thing that’s different about this Warriors roster vs. the past 20 years or so is it’s built with that in mind. There is solid, at least close to starter quality depth at every position except center. So losing Bogut for most of the season could torpedo their hopes (although given the dearth of quality centers, a lineup starting Lee and Landry at 4-5 would have a chance), but other than that, this team should make the playoffs, injuries or not.

  • deano

    Bogut is the key of all keys to this season. He is the only proven post presence on either defense or offense, and there is no reliable sub behind him. If he is 100% for 75% of the games, I think we’re in.

  • dubs wise

    d. lee coming off the books in 2013-14? don’t think so… slight oversight there Marcus.

    good write up though. always appreciated.

  • Young

    As bogut goes, so too go the warriors…

  • Marcus Thompson

    Dubs Wise,

    Good catch. What was I thinking?

  • J-RIDAH

    My Anonymous sources called me today and said look for 52 wins. Not 53 and not 51, but exactly 52. As you know my sources are never wrong. Not sometimes, not always, but never ever wrong. So get your popcorn people or go to the game and pay $8 for it. I take pride in always being right and I am the Real J-RIDAH!

  • wfan

    Good analysis. I think they could stand to lose any starter except Bogut for 20+ games, as long as the injuries don’t come in waves. This is a deep team, as finally the Warriors don’t have to play “small ball” because they’re too weak to win any other way.

  • Harp’s Dubs

    We’re a playoff team with this group, when healthy. We’re a superstar/all-star away from being a contender. We need Harrison Barnes to be very impressive early, so that we can package him with someone else (Biedrins?) for Andre Iguodala at the trade deadline.
    That team puts us into the top 4 in the West, assuming
    1) Steph regains his 10-11 form
    2) Thompson continues improving and puts his knowledge from playing on the select squad to use in becoming even more well-rounded
    3) Jack is a gritty, tough, leader capable of coming in at the 1/2, making good decisions with the ball and not missing a beat
    4) Jenkins is a gret practice player and comes in when asked, hits some mid-range shots and defends his position
    5) Kent Bazemore is a lock-down defender at the 1,2 or 3 after one of our guys continues getting whooped by another tean’s superstar
    6) Brandon Rush remains a scoring threat from the wing off the bench
    7) Richard Jefferson accepts his role as a mentor, understanding his skills have so deeply eroded,
    7) Dominic McGuire re-signs and continues to be Dominic McGuire
    8) Draymond Green has a solid year in the D-League and can come up if someone goes down with an injury
    9) Jeremy Tyler enjoys his time in the D-League of some other team after having been waived by the Warriors.
    10) David Lee has his double-doubles, hustle plays and can learn to pass to his wings OR dump to the low post when a double comes
    11) Carl Landry comes off the bench with hustle, toughness and scoring
    12) Festus Ezeli is a beast defensively
    13) Andrew Bgcut is the Andrew Bogut of pre-11/12

    That’s a lot of assumptions, btu hey, it’s Summer!

  • Guest

    Hey Marcus, what do you think about this roster running the princeton style offense? We’ve got great shooters and passers and lack great iso, beat-yo-man scorers.

  • joe suspect

    yea! A Warriors pre-season article without the tiresome “Biedrins has a renewed attitude/strength” boilerplate.

  • Dave Voss

    Biedrens does have a renewed attitude/strength. Unfortunately it is not basketball related.

  • Stan

    Ratto says 46 wins.

  • Stan

    What do I say?..about the same as the Keith Smart year,only being a real team this time. If less that that? Adios Mark.

  • Stan

    I’m not impressed by Mark..anybody who is?

  • Moreaufan2

    I believe they have a roster that can make the playoffs. They have added some nice depth to the team, so to me even if there is an injury which always happen, u have guys who can step in and not have a big drop off. Now it all depends on coaching and bringing guys together to play as a team!!!!

  • Gummy

    Outside the top 5, it looks like denver, dallas, and minnesota has a better chance..

  • Ron

    Agree about the coaching. Last year late game crunch time strategy was spotty at best. That must improve to be a playoff team.

  • dubs

    Like others have said, this season depends on Bogut. The Warriors will go as far as Bogut takes them. This is the most talent Bogut has had around him in the NBA, so I expect a career year from him if he can stay healthy.

    We can afford injuries to the other 4 starters but not our center. Ezeli won’t be ready to start as a rookie and Biedrins won’t ever be a quality starter for the Warriors again.

    If Barnes throws his name into the rookie of the year mix, and if Klay takes his game to the next level in year 2, and if Curry can become an all star PG, the Warriors should be able to compete with anybody. Its a lot of what ifs but not impossible. More likely we will have a playoff team that gets booted by a battle tested team like the Spurs, Lakers, or Thunder.

  • Stan

    It is up to Bogut. Is his attitude of a renewal? THEN we might have a Andy Cabrera or Melky Bogut(that dont sound too tasty)another resurgence.
    If Andy does star..the “Boguts” are going to be strange mascots. Some Australian way of cleaning a carcass?

  • moderate voter

    Bogut kicking out to Klay Thompson and Steph, can’t wait to see that. We have two of the NBA’s best shooters in the bank-court, I just can’t wait to see those guys light it up.

  • Mick

    Good team. BUT we could be a lot better if we were able to flip Klay Thompson for James Harden or Luol Deng (consolation prize). Plug Harden in instead of Klay, that would be special. That being said, Well done from up top. They truly made very good moves and didn’t overpay. The only move I question over the last year …is Jefferson and a first rounder for Jax. Ezeli will have to make that right over the coming years. If he turns into Kwame Brown type back-up. At 1mill a year, OK.

  • Richard

    They are obviously not a playoff team ..

  • Young

    Regarding mark jackson. I think he is ok at best.

    Pros:
    Guys love to play for him. Give him great effort.
    Player development (Ekepe looked real good, went to Bucks and sucked again)
    Helps attract free agents

    Cons:
    Play calling / game management
    Rotations
    Defense was equally bad but offense worse
    hasnt figured out how to maximize biggest asset (steph)
    talks too much / too arrogant

  • Gunner

    Hell ya! They better be a playoff team if Bogut is healthy!

    Statistically speaking, since 2008, when Scott Skiles became the Bucks’ head coach, Bogut started playing much better defense in their system.

    In the 09-10 and 10-11 season, in which Bogut was able to play 60+ games, the Bucks were among the top 4 teams in defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions)!

    On the other hand, in the 08-09 and 11-12 season, in which Bogut was injured and missed more than half of the season, the Bucks only ranked 15 & 17 in defensive efficiency.

    By contrast, the Warriors never ranked above 26 in the past 4 seasons! If Bogut is healthy and is able to help the Dubs become an above average defensive team (ranking 10-15), I don’t see any reason why we are not a playoff team!

    Mark Jackson better start studying Scott Skiles defensive schemes, hire one of his assistants or whatever it takes, and learn how to utilize Bogut in defense!

  • Stan

    Young listed most of Marks failures..but then add that he didn’t see anything in Lin. A HUGE red flag if you think a coach should be able to say who has talent. And Marks personal life. C’mon a coach who gets himself into situations (S) where he’s blackmailed and extorted??..and his closest business associate AND close friend is a major drug dealer???
    I know people who were fired for talking about a co worker on FB!. What a privileged life Lacob has granted,bestowed onto Jackson. To be honest..I dont like the guy,I think if he was the honest man he claimed to be -he would have resigned in shame.
    But MONEY and Fame is what he wants. Hypocrite.
    And the irony? I can see the day when he resigns anyway. IF Meyers really knew what he was doing, we fans wouldn’t have to sit through wasted years.

  • Stan

    And the joke is…Lacob and Meyer back 100% a lying, cheating, preacherman who GAVE away a 30 million dollar guard they had for 700 grand.
    Ugh,the Warrior ways go on…
    Hey Radnich say’s “Too personal ” to talk about Jackson!..lol..stupidity abounds.

  • Stan

    Hmm,Paterno said Sandusky was too personal to talk about..always excuses for the rich and famous and powerful huh?

  • moreaufan2

    We just have to sit back and see how this thing plays out. I think we made some good moves, but i don’t think Jackson is a good coach just yet, i would have loved to keep Smart, a guy who paid his dues and is a players coach, never once did he talk bad about his team when he was the coach or say he was embarrassed! I want him to go even if they win this year, just too arrogant!!!! too bad he doesn’t realize it

  • Ewok

    Playoff bound? Of course. nothing less than 46 games. The team is capable of providing surprises… and i think it will stretch out if we stay healthy…. If Biedrins comes back to his 07 form, then the possiblities are endless… Realistically, the Warriors will be in serious contention after they finally dump Biedrins and Jefferson’s contract. These contracts are hugh baggages… But who knows. If these players step up to what they’re worth.. then the final dance might come a lot sooner.

  • haastheman

    I like Mark Jackson. He’s the type of coach players love playing for. The team loved playing for him soo much we had to put everyone who actually knew how to play basketball on the DL just so we could lose games, and we still played very competitive. Late game playcalling could have been due to the fact that we were dumping games after the all-star game. For the first time in warrior history the team was able to play half-court basketball, and held players accountable when they didn’t play defense.

  • CB

    I think the Warriors are a playoff team with the additions they have and if Curry and Bogut can stay healthy all season.

    Projected Rotation:
    PG Stephen Curry
    SG Klay Thompson
    SF Harrison Barnes
    PF David Lee
    C Andrew Bogut

    Bench:
    PG Jarrett Jack
    SG Brandon Rush
    SF Richard Jefferson
    PF Carl Landry
    C Festus Ezeli

    Reserves:
    PG Charles Jenkins
    SG Kent Bazemore
    SF Draymond Green
    PF Jeremy Tyler
    C Andris Biedrins

    I think the three guys they won’t use much at all is Biedrins, Tyler and Bazemore. Green and Jenkins should get some minimal minutes from 3rd line.

    The bench is solid with Jack and Rush in backcourt, veteran swingman Jefferson at sf, Landry could be a starter on some teams at PF, and Festus Ezeli is going to be a beast at center coming off bench to spell Bogut.

    And our starters are solid now with a young trio of Curry, Thompson and Barnes with big men Lee and Bogut manning PF and C.

    Should be an exciting team led by 2nd year coach Marc Jackson.

  • Ewok

    Comparing the Lakers with the Warriors~

    PG Stephen Curry vs Steve Nash
    SG Klay Thompson vs. Kobe Bryant
    SF Harrison Barnes vs. Meta World Peace
    David Lee vs. Pau Gasol
    C Andrew Bogut vs. Dwight Howard

    Interesting Matches! In this match up, i think the Lakers have the edge in terms or point production. But if can out-defend them, we can turn the favor to our side. The good news however, is our bench. The Warriors are much deeper than the Lakers on bench, We have Jack, Bazemore, Jefferson, Landry, Rush, Landry and Ezelli… while the Lakers will have to rely with Troy Murphy, Duhon, Jamison, Earl Clark… so this will be very intresting to watch. Coaching wise, i think Mark Jackson is still learning a few more ropes….

    For now, the overall edge will go to the Lakers. However, as soon as we dump the salaries of Biederins and Jefferson, we can make a crack at the market for another marketable-marquee player which may spell out a championship.

  • Dubs

    Ewok- what are you smoking? How can you seriously compare the Warriors to the Lakers? The Warriors will be satisfied just by making the playoffs, for the Lakers its championship or bust.

  • Ewok

    Dubs, you have a legitimate arguement.

    I am not alone in this assesment. A sports writers have the same gut feeling too.

    Comparing the Warriors with the Lakers is a valid point because at the end of the day, It’s the Lakers who still holds the bar in the West and we will have to deal with them irregardless. Having said that, if we could find a way to “control” or by a wild throw, “dominate” them, then that tells a lot about our present standing and the future as well.

    The Lakers also have their bad years with Ceballos, Sam Bowie, Nick Van Excel and so forth… Now i am not saying their line up is weak of course it is stong but for a whole season?

    Yes they are strong. But consider these facts, Kobe has 16 years in the league, MWP has 13, Gasol has 11, Nash has 16, Jamison has 13, Troy Murphy has 10 years and Howard has 8 years.. In terms of experience; yes they got it but translating that experience for 80 games; not to mention injuries; They need some fresh legs in that team. The wear and tear is some consideration come play off time. So its very interesting to find out. Especially interesting is Howards back which is still provoking concerns…

    On the other hand, the Warriors have a four-man rotation against Howard and Jordan Hill in Bogut, Ezeli, Biedrins and Landry. They have a three to four man rotation in slowing down Nash with Curry, Jack, Bazemore and Jenkins. Kobe will dominate as usual, but we can keep up with him offensively with another rotation in Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson and Rush. Gasol and Lee would be a good match up but in case Lee needs help, Landry and Green are there to back him up.

    The Lakers are strong. But for how long? For as long as they are healthy which is a concern. The Warriors on the other hand, are up and coming and they will go far (especially when they finally dump Biedrins salary for a marquee player). So the question for the Warriors is simply “When” and “How Far?” I know from hunch its going to be soon and i know its going to be very, very, far.. (barring injuries, of course).

  • riokid

    Warriors will win at least one game vs. Lakers this year. I think that is achievable. I think 45 games is doable given the strength of the bench. I think Jeremy Tyler is a stiff. Biedrens … enough said. I hope to see Tyler in Santa Cruz this winter to see if I am mistaken. Marc Jackson…we will see how he how he works out. He is a question mark.