The 2012-13 Golden State Warriors have had a roller coaster of a season, but so far it has led to great things. And it will lead to great things in the future as well.
Golden State is threatening to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007, as they are 33-23 and in sixth place in the West. The West is a formidable conference and that makes Golden State’s stellar record even more impressive. The Warriors have lots of talent and a great old-school coach in Mark Jackson and the team has meshed together well.
After some extremely tough years by the Bay, Jackson has brought the best out of his squad. Jarrett Jack, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee and Carl Landry have propelled a squad that is solid at each position to success and Golden State is emerging as a legitimate threat to lots of teams. In fact, they knocked off the San Antonio Spurs, widely considered the NBA’s best team, in overtime on Friday, Feb. 22.
In that game, Jack dished out 10 assists and dropped 30 points. While he isn’t widely thought of as a star, Jack has been incredibly valuable to the Warriors and he has come up big with lots of clutch shots. Jack dropped 23 on the Minnesota Timberwolves in another huge road win on Sunday, Feb. 24, and currently, the Warriors are riding a three-game winning streak.
While the Warriors have had a bumpy road (they lost six straight before winning three in a row), they should certainly be around when the playoffs start. While the Warriors will have a long road if they are the sixth seed, they can find success in the playoffs. They have the talent and while the experience is a concern, being in a heated playoff race will help prepare them for the actual postseason.
The future is very bright for the Warriors and not just because there will be a new arena down by the Bay soon (via SF Gate). The front office has done a remarkable job assembling a roster full of young talent. The Warriors can do everything well and every game they play with each other will only help. As the team chemistry gets better, so will the results.
In the NBA, a star is usually needed to win championships. LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, the Boston Big Three and Tim Duncan have proved this, as the last several champions have been manned by a star or, in the case of the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, a few stars. While the casual fan might not be able to see a definitive star on the Warriors, Lee and Curry would definitely have something to say about that.
Lee was a All-Star reserve this year and Curry was snubbed from the game. Curry is tied for eighth in the NBA in scoring with 21.1 points per game (PPG) and ranks third in free-throw percentage, as Curry has made 90.3 percent of his foul shots. In addition, Curry is averaging 6.6 assists per game (APG) and is sixth in the NBA in 3-point percentage (44.3 percent).
Against the Timberwolves, Curry drained a clutch 21-footer with 1:08 left, giving the Warriors a lead they would not relinquish. Lee put up 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green also snatched key boards in the final minute to help put points on the board and keep the ball away from Minnesota. Golden State came through down the stretch and made its plays, and stopped the Timberwolves on defense to ice the game.
That kind of clutch play was also demonstrated against the Spurs when Jack nailed a huge three in regulation, one of many times the sixth man has stepped up in crunch time. Jack is not afraid to take the ball to the hoop, but he is also a threat to make a great pass or nail a shot from downtown. Against the Miami Heat in December, Jack made an incredible pass to Green with 0.9 seconds for a game-winning layup (shown below).
Jack averages 22.2 points per 48 minutes and 5.9 assists in just 29.4 minutes while shooting 47.7 percent. Jack has made 86.3 percent of his shots from the line while making a huge impact in close games and just about every game in general. Jack has added an estimated 5.2 wins to the Warriors, while posting a 17.9 PER, well over the league average of 15.
The Sixth Man of the Year favorite has also contributed to the Warriors averaging 101.2 PPG, good for eighth in the NBA. Golden State is also tied for third in the league with 44.8 rebounds per game (RPG), largely due to Lee, who averages 11 boards per game. The Warriors are 10th in assists per game with 22.9 and they are tied for fourth in opponent field-goal percentage (44.0 percent). What do all of these stats mean?
It means that the Warriors are a great team and because of the talent they have, that they have a bright future.
All of these stats haven’t completely added up for the Warriors this year and a championship run isn’t exactly in the realm of possibility. Golden State would likely have to beat the Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers just to get to the NBA Finals and that’s not going to happen without home-court advantage and without much experience. However, experience will come over time and once that happens, the Warriors will snatch one of the top seeds and emerge into title contenders.
The Warriors can handle the grind of an 82-game season and the postseason, because they are a young, deep team. They can do everything, and that talent will translate into success. Curry is one of five players with over 21 PPG and over 6 APG, and Lee is the only player in the entire league with 11 RPG and 19 PPG. These two players, as well as Jack, Thompson (16.5 PPG), Landry (11.4 PPG, 6.4 RPG) and Andrew Bogut (12.5 career PPG, 9.3 career RPG) will take the Warriors far in the future.
Now isn’t the right time for the Warriors, but Golden State can gain some extremely valuable experience as a team for the 2013-14 season. Jackson is a great old-school coach who knows what it takes to go through the grind of a whole season and he will prepare his squad accordingly. His team will step up, as we have already seen examples of the Warriors making plays in high-pressure moments. Those moments will come up in the playoffs and the Warriors will succeed.
Why? Because they are too talented to not find success.