Are the Golden State Warriors legitimate contenders in the Western Conference?

  • Started By Gorev Ahuja
  • Sidelines Senior Columnist
  • 3 years ago
Gorev Ahuja
Gorev Ahuja
Senior Columnist

The Golden State Warriors beat the two-time defending champion Miami Heat on their home court Thursday, delivering a 123-114 win. The Warriors have now win seven games in a row for the first time since 2005 which begs the question, whether the Warriors should be in the discussion as one of the NBA’s top teams. Right now they’re 21-13 and the sixth seed in the Western Conference, but they’re 16-3 when all their starters play. Golden State is definitely one of the most exciting teams to watch and they are a top team. However, they still lack depth and size to match up with the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma Thunder and they turn the ball over way too much. Do you think the Warriors have enough to be a Finals contender? Where do you see the Warriors ending up at the end of the season? What do you think will put them into the top echelon of the Western Conference?

Dean Lake
Dean Lake
Editor

Health has always been the Warriors' biggest problem. Their big men - David Lee, Andrew Bogut, and Jermaine O'Neal - have been injured so much over the past two years that is is more the norm for them to be in street clothes than playing. It doesn't help matters when Curry and Iguodala join them for the towel waving.

They are certainly a contender when healthy, as tonight's win at Miami proved. But they certainly need all hands on deck, and that is a rare sight. I simply don't think they are capable of remaining healthy, however, and will end the season outside the top four spots in the West making things a bit more difficult for them to advance.

If they are healthy come playoff time, well...there's a chance they could pull it off.

Steve Ausburne
Steve Ausburne
Elite Columnist

I agree with the idea that the starters can hang with just about anyone. But, the lack of depth will keep them from advancing beyond the second round in my opinion. Jermaine O'Neal's absence will have a negative impact to spell Bogut and Lee. They also need a backup point guard that can truly run the floor to give Coach Jackson more lineup options for rest purposes. All that said, they are as exciting as the Run TMC era with a dash of the We Believe hope thrown in.

When healthy yes the Warriors are a contender in the West in the mix with the Thunder and Portland

Mark Bruty
Mark Bruty
Analyst

The Warriors are a genuine playoff team out west but that is where it stops I think. While their starters are terrific, they are also sporadic and that can cause problems in a playoff series. Then you add in the fact that they no longer have Landry and Jack off he bench and you get the feeling they are quite thin. Health always plays an issue and it has been a problem for the Dubs before but even fully healthy they don't beat the top tier teams in a best of 7 series. Iggy adds a lot to the team and Barnes, Green are solid role players, but they just aren't there yet in my opinion.

Gorev Ahuja
Gorev Ahuja
Senior Columnist

The starters can definitely hang with anyone, but they need rest especially on back to backs. Who do you guys think they should go after to fill their needs? @Dean Lake and @Steve Ausburne Two names that could help that I've heard are Jameer Nelson and a great pick up as a back up center would be Andrew Bynum.

Kiefy Ped
Kiefy Ped
Columnist

The Warriors are an elite team at protecting the paint, protecting the 3, and forcing low percentage mid range shots. They are also one of the best shooting teams in the league -- certainly the best 3pt shooting team, so they deserve to be in the discussion. The Warriors, however, can't take care of the ball. They have the highest TO% in the league. Unless they improve there I don't give them much of a shot in the later rounds of the playoffs, where that problem tends to be exacerbated by better defense.

They are unbelievable to watch, though, and I am a big fan of Klay Thompson being able to consistently play at the level he has shown flashes of this year.

scott whittum
scott whittum
Elite Columnist

When healthy yes the Warriors are a contender in the West in the mix with the Thunder and Portland. The key will be surviving through the season and getting healthy by the playoffs and getting themselves at least into the Top four seeds in the West so they can have at least the first round with home court advantage.

Max Moskowitz
Max Moskowitz
Columnist

Absolutely this team is a contender. anyone that can shoot the 3 this well (a touch under 40 percent) has a shot. No matter how far behind they are in a game they have the ability to come back. And it is sustainable because they shot 40 percent from beyond the arc last year.
With the addition of Iggy who I believe is one of the most underrated players in the NBA, their starting 5 is one of the best in the league. Since he came back from injury they are 8-1 beating teams such as the sun, clippers and heat. the only loss being a two point L to the spurs.

Dean Lake
Dean Lake
Editor

@Kief P. That sounds a lot like the Blazers, except for the turnovers. I have to agree that if they can improve there (and remain healthy) they could be the team to beat in the West.

Josh Miller
Josh Miller
Senior Columnist

difference between warriors and blazers is that Portland has been incredibly healthy all year, and the warriors haven't. It looks like they are starting to regain health but it will really matter come march and april. However, I really think they need to add more depth to make it further than the 2nd round. I think they're going to get fairly worn down as the season progresses, and they are one of the teams that could really benefit from a trade deadline deal that brings in a capable backup. Also, while that heat win last night was certainly thrilling, turning the ball over 20 times is not going to win that many games. That is the biggest issue moving forward and something that needs to be corrected if they want to advance in the playoffs.

Derek Wizzle
Derek Wizzle
Editor

They are legitimate contenders as long as Curry stays healthy. Their bench is still weak but hopefully Jermaine O'Neal gets back and helps out the frontcourt.

They still have to beat the tough teams like the Spurs who have their number though. The Thunder and the Blazers are probably the top teams in the West now and the Grizzlies will get back Marc Gasol soon.

When Curry gets hot and on fire like he was last night vs. the Heat, there's not much that defenses can do to stop him.

Dan Moberger
Dan Moberger
Senior Analyst

I don't want to reiterate too much about the health point, but I do want to add that the Warriors should take a page from Pop's book and rest up their starters over the course of the season. Duncan, Parker and Ginobli are always on the court at the end of the season, despite their injury difficulties, because of the way they're handled in the regular season. I'd rather lose a spot or two in the conference standings because I limited everyone's minutes than lose a star because they're playing too many minutes each game.

Derek Wizzle
Derek Wizzle
Editor

The difference is that Duncan, Parker, and Ginobli are all aging veterans over 30 while Klay and Steph and the core of the team are in their 20s. The Warriors might not be the best team in the NBA but they are one of the most entertaining teams in the league.

Mark Bruty
Mark Bruty
Analyst

Team defence and turnovers. These two key areas are what keep GSW from being contenders and have them just as a good team. Rarely do jump shooting teams win rings - there are just too many inconsistencies with that game plan. Also when you give the ball back at such a high rate, teams will score on you. At the business end of the season, when fatigue sets in, what is the first part of your game to struggle? Shooting. I think grind it out teams will bang and hustle this team in the playoffs.

Kiefy Ped
Kiefy Ped
Columnist

@Mark Bruty why do you think team defense is a problem? GSW ranks 3rd in Opponent eFG%. They're very good at forcing teams off the 3 and routing them to Bogut.

Gorev Ahuja
Gorev Ahuja
Senior Columnist

Watching them today was the Hawks, the starters look exhausted and the bench is 6 for 22. Just shows the lack of depth, something they have to address before the trade deadline.

Mark Bruty
Mark Bruty
Analyst

@Kief P.some times regular season stats are misleading - they can be padded against poor competition etc. Not saying this is the case, but I have watched a heap of Warriors games and I feel against quality opposition this is where they are vulnerable. The best teams make adjustments and will find a way to score if they are run off their spots. Plus, a jump shooting run and gun team will wear down physically over a grueling 7 game series and then will they be able to maintain their defensive intensity? All just points I have noted when watching them. @Gorev Ahuja the depth and streaky shooting is BIG - same problem Houston have in my opinion.

Kiefy Ped
Kiefy Ped
Columnist

@Mark Bruty That is a fair point. If they play hard team defense I can see their jump shooting suffer as a whole. I'm not sure it'll actually be an issue, though, as they have one of the younger backcourts in the league. Also, pace works both ways, and we watched this team run and shoot a very young Denver team out of their own stadium last year without Iguodala as a defensive presence.

I also feel that because they have such a great defensive big in Bogut, they can afford to be a little more passive in their defense while still being effective. There are better shot blockers in the western conference certainly, but the difference between DeAndre and Bogut is that Bogut actually knows his rotations and rarely makes mistakes. This should allow the perimeter defense to stay up on their covers more easily to siphon them into forcing up mid rangers.

Obviously this won't work as well against the Spurs, and defending Portland is another thing entirely, but I think it's an efficient defensive system against OKC and LAC at the very least.

Brendan Cross
Brendan Cross
Senior Columnist

The Warriors will probably end up being the 4th or 5th seed out of the west. They show every now and again that they can match up with some great teams, they have beaten OKC/MIA/LAC this season. Once they get their backup bigs back later in the year, O'Neal and Ezeli, then they will really hit their stride, assuming the health of all of the other key cogs. They can definitely make it to the conference championships if all things go their way.

Mark Bruty
Mark Bruty
Analyst

Love the break down @Kief P. and while they may be young, I still think it becomes a problem just through in-game fatigue. No doubt they have improved in a big way and will make some noise but I can't see them winning the West. Now with Chris Paul out though, they have a really good chance of ensuring a top four finish. Portland, OKC and Spurs probably take out the top 3 spots but the GSW could snare fourth and make the second round. If they shoot the lights out and can overcome the fatigue, youthfulness and lack of depth they are talented enough to make the WCF but that is as far as they could go and would be best case scenario I feel.

Gorev Ahuja
Gorev Ahuja
Senior Columnist

@Mark Bruty I agree with Chris Paul out they definitely have a legitimate chance at the 4th seed and possibly higher if one of the other teams slip up. The Warriors have played the most road games of any team and have played the least games against the East which means that the first part of their schedule was tough. But after this current road trip it gets extremely home friendly and if they keep playing the way they're right now, they have great shot at a top four seed.

Rob Wechsler
Rob Wechsler
Columnist

I definitely think that the Warriors are legitimate contenders in the Western Conference. After all, they just beat the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat and currently sit in the midst of a nine game win streak. Furthermore, the Warriors have shown that they are no fluke due to the fact that they possess a very deep team highlighted by superstar and sharpshooter Stephen Curry as well as versatile big man David Lee. Most importantly, the Warriors were fortunate enough to acquire the elite defensive stopper in Andre Iguodala via trade that they were so desperately missing. I think it's safe to say the Warriors can be considered legitimate contenders.

Mark Bruty
Mark Bruty
Analyst

How deep do you think they go @Rob Wechsler? I really don't think they have the depth of some other teams and really drop off after Harrison Barnes, Starters are great but depth is an issue I think. Winning in regular season even against top teams is one thing, but to be able to defeat some of the teams out West in a seven game series would be a tough ask.

Kale Roy
Kale Roy
Senior Columnist

As long as they can stay healthy, they can hang there with any team in the NBA.

Krithic Annamalai
Krithic Annamalai
Elite Columnist

If their second unit can step up, then I know this team is a legit contender.

Cliff Conover
Cliff Conover
Commentator

The Warriors have a great coach in Mark Jackson, one the players know has thier back 100 percent, however he makes emotional decisions at times (no doubt this comes from being a successful former NBA point guard). Their fan base is growing and they have an electrifying, very loud arena that makes it hard for teams to come into Oakland and win. The ingredients are there for a contender: solid big men ( with a backup in Oneil that can give them a solid 10-15 minutes a game when healthy) superstar point guard with a rising star at the shooting guard, great coach and great fan base/ arena. My concern is injuries and all around depth. They are definetly a contender in the West, as long as the injury bug doesn't bite them down the stretch.

Aditya Trivedi
Aditya Trivedi
Senior Analyst

Yes although I'm not a fan of teams who solely rely on fast paced shooting offenses. The Clippers are a prime example of a team doing that and they never go further than the 2nd round in the playoffs. I think they can be legitimate if they get hot during the playoffs and it is seen that when they are hot they are unstoppable. But I just don't know if they can sustain it.

The second unit needs to step up and Bogut needs to become the good offensive center he was back with the Bucks.