Without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin on the floor, there was nothing surprising about seeing the Golden State Warriors beat the Los Angeles Clippers 125-107 in a preseason game, led by Stephen Curry, completing four-for-four in preseason games against teams from the city of angels.
So while their 5-2 record looks good, it is misleading. The Warriors in terms of personnel aren’t that different from last season. Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa are the only player that joined that will probably be part of the rotation. Livingston has been dealing with an injury all through this preseason and Barbosa isn’t exactly your typical point guard backup, the thing the Warriors have been trying to add for quite some time.
So what’s left to improve? Players individually progressing, which makes sense for young guys and especially the backcourt with Curry and Thompson, or simply playing better and smarter basketball, Mark Jackson believed in preaching and motivation, but that eventually ran him out of the job after his situation with the front office and other assistants while results didn’t improve on the court made it clear that his basketball philosophy wasn’t going to win this team titles.
Steve Kerr doesn’t have coaching experience. He’s been a front office guy and someone who works for TV, broadcasting basketball and talking about it in a studio. But he believes in X’s and O’s, and the ball movement is a lot better, at least in the preseason, since he took over. It might mean less one-man heroics from Curry and also putting the ball a lot in the hands of Andre Iguodala, transformed into a point-forward coming off the bench, but the Warriors have to try something different if a championship is the ultimate goal.
Their wins over the Lakers don’t mean that much because the Lakers aren’t a very good team, preseason or not. Their performances in the loss to Miami and Houston weren’t top notch, even when the starters were on the floor. There’s a lot of work to be done. It’ll be also interesting to see if now that Jackson is gone, the dirty element from this team’s basketball at times, courtesy of players like Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut will also disappear.
Championship material? Hard to see it happening in a world with the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder (once Kevin Durant gets back) and also the very deep Los Angeles Clippers to play against in the conference. That’s not all of the problems in the difficult Western conference as well. But maybe there’s more to this team than we’ve seen so far through their rise over the last two years. Most of their personnel moves in the last three years have paid off, so setting this ship on course with a championship in mind might eventually work out, although it’s hard to see it happening right now.