003. 2 down. 80 more to go
October 28, 2016.
The first day of the NBA season was a great day for all but Warriors fans. As part of the dubnation fan base there’s a sinking feeling as though nothing has changed from the end of last year. The written script continues. Cleveland comes out and destroys their opponents, LeBron gets the very first triple double of the NBA season and Kyrie scores 29. (Also ‘The Block’ is prominently featured as part of ESPN’s NBA opening theme). The Warriors suffers their greatest home loss in the past like 4 years (since Draymond was a rookie). For some perspective, in the 2014/15 season the Warriors only had 2 home losses for a combined 5 points; last year it was also 2 home losses for a combined 10 points. So in totality 15 pt deficit in 4 home losses over 2 years vs 29 on day 1. (Let’s start panicking now!) It didn’t help that the Warriors played their first game against the Spurs while the Cavs played the Knicks.
Not too long after, the Warriors played their second game of the season against Anthony Davis’ New Orlean Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center. (Side note: The Smoothie King Center is most definitely the worst named arena in the NBA; who/what is Smoothie King?).
The difference between these two games is that the Spurs’ lineup consist of:
- Kawhi Leonard
- LeMarcus Aldridge
- Pau Gasol
- Tony Parker
- Kyle Anderson (new starting SG)
- Bench: Ginobili, Patty Mills
Whereas the Pelicans have:
- Anthony Davis
- 4 other role players that I can barely name. If you can name 2 other players on this team- props to you. but they are:
- Omer Asik (oh yeahhh..)
- Solomon Hill
- E’Twaun Moore
- Tim Fraizer
- Bench: Lance Stephenson, Buddy Hield
Kawhi (my prediction for this years MVP) torches the Warriors for 35 points, 5 boards, 5 steals. The all round Spurs team dismantles the Warriors in the paint and on the boards. In game 2, Anthony Davis put up 45 with 17 boards. Despite carrying the team on his back, a solo AD was not enough to match the firepower of Curry, Klay and KD.
Some key take aways from these two games alone:
Kevin Durant looks good; almost MVP good. He’s matching his output from his time in OKC and is putting up double digit rebounding numbers. (Addressed in point 2.) There’s been some chatter about how the Warriors miss Barnes, the defense doesn’t look the same, how the death star lineup is not very deathly, Curry doesn’t get enough shots, etc. I’m honestly not too sure what people are expecting and it’s a little soon to be drawing conclusions but from what I can tell it’ll just take a bit of time to pick up each other’s tendencies. My take home here is that KD is not taking a backseat to the rest of the Warrior’s stars and that’s a good thing. He’s been the most consistent player on the team from these past two games.
KD’s production and more importantly his rebounding has been extremely effective. The first game he scored 27 with 10 boards. Today he put up 30 pts with 17 boards. I said in my preseason post that rebounding will be key if the Warriors are going to win. KD’s taken up that challenge. I expect him to continue the rebounding numbers. Unlike his time at OKC, he’s gobbling up the boards, letting Klay and Curry speed down the floor.
The shot distribution on the Warriors have been pretty equal. Klay, Curry and KD each take about 20 shots per game whereas everyone else gets 1 to 5, maybe 8 max. As a Warriors fan, this is what you want. Curry and KD have to be 2 of most unselfish superstars in the league–whether that’s a good thing or bad thing is yet to be determined.
The defense has been choppy at best and the offense is sometimes too unselfish leading to excess and unnecessary turnovers. Maybe it’s the rust from the first few games, maybe it’s players learning to play with one another, or maybe it’s people wanting to fit in and wanting to be a team player. Either way, too many dumb passes and too many turnovers. It was fine against the Pelicans but it killed us vs the superior Spurs. It’s that first world problem of having too much talent while being too unselfish.
If this were the 2015/2016 team we would’ve dominated the Pelicans (we did). Today, the game was much closer than any fan would’ve anticipated. It’s a mixture of the unpolished offense and lackluster defense. The Pelicans have 1 superstar player and then nobodies. Given the talent discrepancy, you would’ve expected the Warriors to be up 20, 30 pts (Spurs..) and for us to rest the starters for the majority of the 4th. But given that the starters played the whole game and won by 8 points, it’s definitely nothing to be satisfied with.
The defense is slow on rotations and lazy at best. I can’t tell yet if its early season rust or just the players not trying cause of the season grind. There’s definitely more glimpses of players going through the motion compared to last year. I guess opening the season with a loss and having nothing to chase or play for yet will do that to you.
Bonus note: Curry’s been playing relatively well. He seems like he’s ok or going to be ok defecting to be KD’s sidekick. Not sure how Warrior fans will feel about this. Klay, however, seems a bit off despite coming off a strong preseason. Not too worried though.
Double Bonus note: It’s good to see that Barnes is doing well on the Mavs; he had his career high 31 points in just his second game with Dallas.