Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE
Nate and I exchanged questions on each team in advance of tonight's opener in Phoenix. See how the Warriors stack up in the mind of their SBNation site.
Questions from Dave/BSotS. Answers from Nate/GSOM
What's the immediate and long-term future for Steph Curry? Will he play on Wednesday, and how many games do you see him playing for Golden State for the rest of his career?
Nate: Curry is expected to play Wednesday and beyond that I simply can't say right now what his future looks like. Though there are varying feelings about his ankle among Warriors fans, I'm still holding my breath with nearly every step he takes - yes, his last tweak in Portland was more of a random freak accident, but when these things keep happening it's hard for it not to be in the back of your mind. In terms of locking him up for the future, what complicates things is that the team as it stands now is simply not very good without him on the floor - so the question of whether we should keep him around really comes down to whether we're willing to wait yet another few years to even have hope of competing for the playoffs. It's a tough pill to swallow.
How's Andrew Bogut looking? And, will he play on Wednesday?
Nate: We got great news the other day with the Warriors announcing that Bogut practiced, but given that he hasn't been able to play 5 on 5 basketball in a long time the other question is how much he would play even if he did take the floor on Wednesday. I would love to see him get some run off the bench in the 15-20 minute range for the opener and just rely more heavily on rookie center Festus Ezeli or other frontcourt combinations while Bogut gets into game shape.
Going into Wednesday's game, what's your biggest concern with the Warriors as a team (defense, rebounding, offense, coaching)?
Nate: Regardless of what any of us think about Mark Jackson as a coach, coaching has to be the biggest "concern" in the sense that he's still an inexperienced coach who has been tasked with bringing together a team with some uncertainty (Bogut & Curry injuries; will Andris Biedrins ever wake up again?) and some new pieces to integrate (the rookies as well as free agents Carl Landry & Jarrett Jack). Bringing together a unit like that is a tough task for any coach, much less one with less than a full NBA season of coaching experience in his life. So it's really hard to talk about any of the other areas - defense would otherwise sit atop my list of concerns - without starting with how the coaching staff is going to bring this unit together.
Alternately, what's their biggest strength, in your mind?
Nate: Well, obviously scoring - at full strength, this team will have no problem scoring, scoring often, and - with the number of 3-point shooters they have - scoring efficiently. Even post-Monta Ellis trade and pre-tank mode last season the team showed the ability to score with less talent, led by Klay Thompson's steady improvement over the course of his rookie year. The prospect of having two big men who can score and pass surrounded by shooters - Curry, Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Brandon Rush - is really exciting. But again, it comes down to a) health and b) how well the coaching staff can maximize the possibilities of this roster.
Which Warrior is playing the best right now, heading into the season?
Nate: You could go a few ways with the answer to that question, but I think one thing that has really stood out for me is Harrison Barnes' improvement since his last game at UNC to summer league to the preseason - it has been quite impressive. He's improved in almost every aspect of the game on both ends of the floor and that's why he was named the starter. If I were to sum it up quickly, I'd probably say that the most noticeable improvement is that he's more patient with the ball in his hands and I think that allows him to complement the guys around him much better than the otherwise would. But the bottom line is that I'm much more excited about Barnes' potential now than I was on draft day just because he's obviously someone who's constantly working to improve his game.
What else should we know about the Warriors?
Nate: This might be the best Warriors frontcourt at least since the Chris Webber year and you could easily go back further than that. And by that I mean that a full post rotation actually exists. Obviously the strength of the frontcourt depends heavily on Bogut's health, but Ezeli is looking like a steal at 30th pick in the draft, you know what you're getting from David Lee, and Carl Landry is a solid addition off the bench. Anything the Warriors get from the likes of Biedrins, Draymond Green, or Jeremy Tyler would be a bonus; last year, Biedrins and Tyler earned starts at various times. Don't get me wrong, even with Bogut available this frontcourt has its share of deficiencies, but the point is that this franchise hasn't had a frontcourt anywhere near this strong in some Warriors fans' lifetimes. That's something tangible to believe in.
Finally, what's your prediction for the game?
Nate: Hmmm, a road game against a team that is expected to be close to us in the division...I'm hoping for a win, as always, but coming into this expecting a loss, unfortunately. We have a rookie starting at small forward and can't be sure what the frontcourt rotation will look like until they hit the floor. Again, there's just a lot of adjusting going on and no matter what we think of the Suns it'll be tough to win given the circumstances. I'm just looking forward to seeing the whole roster in action and getting a glimpse of what could be, to be honest.