This year's Warriors squad is nothing like last year's. With all the changes, there is much to be excited about with the season opener just weeks away.
Preseason is already underway and from the first few games, there is a lot to be excited about already. With sweeping changes to all sectors of the Warriors organization, it was difficult narrowing down the top five things to look forward to. Where does Andris Biedrins' haircut and nickname change rank compared to other things? What about the chemistry expected between Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry? They've been caught singing in the shower together but will one of them be singing Chris Brown's "Deuces" sooner or later? From reverse order, here's my take on the biggest headlines, thus far, going into the season. What are yours?
5. PF Brandan Wright's Last Chance
The former MVP of the ACC tournament (2007) has disappeared faster than another UNC alum, once-promising yet now injury-riddled power forward Sean May. Except, unlike May, Wright is probably severely underweight and undersized, muscularly, which has been reason for why he continually gets injured doing what his job responsibilities ask of him: to bang with other power forwards in the league.
Some might say Wright is inconsequential to the Warrior's future given how the Warriors have clearly learned to manage without him. And with David Lee's arrival, Wright's chances are even more limited. But you still cannot deny that Wright has an intriguing skill-set, particularly his touch around the basket. Wright is just too skilled to be lumped with other great Warrior busts. If he can't stay healthy and aggressive on the court, Wright may be following former lottery bust Patrick O'Bryant to China to continue his career.
4. New Ownership Making Moves Fast
The Joe Lacob and Peter Guber-era has begun! Their most recent decision to part ways with head coach Don Nelson, promoting assistant coach Keith Smart weeks prior to training camp, was another bold move by the ownership. They are clearly putting their name on this franchise even as the NBA is still voting on the sale.
The legends of Lacob's interest in Jeremy Lin as a PR move to appease a fan to the ever-present Lacob sitting courtside chatting it up with fans, has been a startling and welcomed change in comparison to the practically exiled Warriors-owner Chris Cohan. The Warriors radically transformed roster with seemingly non-Don Nelson type players -- first round pick Ekpe Udoh specializing in his defensive and rebounding abilities -- also shows that this is a new era.
Clearly, the new owners are not afraid to shake things up and perhaps we can expect some big changes before the trade deadline. At the very least, they may upgrade the food at the coliseum.
3. Combo-guards Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry -- Backcourt Of The Future Or Is Monta Ellis On The Trading Block?
The tension between Ellis and Curry has been well-chronicled by various news sources already. But, they've apparently squashed their beef as Ellis paid for Curry's 22nd birthday party and Curry the only Warrior attending Ellis' wedding this past summer.
With rumors swirling this past summer of Carmelo Anthony wanting to play for Golden State (among a few other locations), Ellis' name came up in several possible trade scenarios. Curry is clearly untradeable as the franchise has told everyone since the end of last season. Yet, how long will this harmony last between the two stars of this team? Can they really co-exist? Or is this just being blown out of proportion?
Ellis is the last remaining member of the We-Believe Warriors, except it is unclear whether or not Lacob, in an interview with KNBR, really sees him as part of the Warriors future. With Lacob at the helm, you can bet that Monta Ellis trade-rumors won't rest. And if the losses start piling up, perhaps we'll see the roster shake-up much sooner than we've ever expected.
2. Dorell Wright As Mr. Versatility
With reports coming out that Dorell Wright is a versatile swingman, much more than the spot-up three point shooter he was asked to be while in Dwyane Wade's shadow in Miami, I wonder if this is more preseason hype than anything.
In his first game, he managed to register statistics in all major fantasy basketball categories, getting almost as many assists as rebounds (4:5) to go with his decent shooting percentages from the field and the line (4-4 from FT). Granted, it was only preseason.
This is how Keith Smart has described Wright's versatility:
"Man, he can make plays," Smart said of Wright. "He can move the basketball and do things like a playmaker. We had a guy like that a couple years ago, a 6-8 guy. We'll see how it goes in camp, see if he can handle it. I think he'll be OK."
Once billed as having the body, athleticism, and game of a young Tracy McGrady, Wright's first preseason stats show that this season with the Warriors may be time to show that the comparisons still ring true. So far, Wright's injuries in his 6-year career show him more like an older Tracy McGrady than anything else.
But with the potential of Wright's offensive skill-set, the Warriors starting five probably has not been this good since We-Believe. There are always late bloomers (see Jermaine O'Neal) and if Wright suddenly becomes what people thought he was coming straight out of high school, the Warriors could be very good.
1. Pick-and-Roll Between David Lee and Stephen Curry
The Warriors have long desired a big man presence with the skill-sets to rebound and score in the post since Chris Webber left back in 1994. Since then, we all know how many people have tried to fill his shoes, with almost all of them failing miserably.
Stephen Curry's passing skills, much better than originally advertised, worked so well that he managed to get his offensively challenged front court in great positions to score. And the Warriors probably would have been better had Ronny Turiaf had better hands and Anthony Tolliver had not been so vertically challenged.
But with one-time Eastern Conference all-star David Lee arriving, the Warriors have been incredibly upgraded in so many different ways, offensively and rebounding-wise. Someone of Lee's offensive skill set, particularly around the pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop, can create much more opportunities for others as that will become something that opposing teams may have to pay attention to. If not that, imagine the ease of points scored like days of John Stockton and Karl Malone.
Curry and Lee have a long way to go before they can even be close to being that effective. But having a go-to combo like this could be really exciting and may finally silence ideas that the Warriors just play "playground ball."