Stocked with fresh faces and talented youth, the 2012 Golden State Warriors are hoping to make a playoff run for the first time since 2007. Still, there are a number of concerns about this squad heading into the start of the season, which CSN Bay Area's Matt Steinmetz narrows down to his five issues the W's need to fix before the start of the season.
The health of Andrew Bogut:
Bogut missed all but 12 games last season with a fractured left ankle. He's been rehabbing all offseason, but has still not been cleared to play five-on-five. Bogut is targeting a few preseason games, and then playing in Game 1. In any event, it appears the Warriors will monitor Bogut's minutes closely - particularly early in the season.
If Bogut isn't healthy, his 5-year, $60 million contract is a complete bust. Golden State believes they are paying for one of the better big man in the league, and won't do any good on the bench. They need Bogut healthy and productive if they want to be a winning team this season.
The status of Stephen Curry's ankle:
Curry is in the same boat with Bogut injury-wise, but looks to be further along. Curry missed most of last season with a troublesome right ankle, but he is healthy and is expected to start the season-opener. The Warriors have eight preseason games, and that should give Curry - and the Warriors - a good look at how everything is progressing.
The fact that Steph's ankle has been a problem over-and-over again leaves me gun-shy to claim he'll be ready this season. Like Bogut, Curry is an important cog on offense for Golden State and if his ankle can't hold up, they'll be back to square one. It's going to take a few games to see how that ankle will respond to the grind of season.
The battle for starting small forward:
The Warriors have three viable candidates for the spot: Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush and rookie Harrison Barnes. Yes, who finishes at the small forward spot is more important than who starts, but who starts might give you a feel for what coach Mark Jackson is thinking this year and what he values.
Jefferson seems the most likely as the most veteran of the three, though Brandon Rush had a great season last year and could be a great fit with guys like Bogut, Curry and David Lee amongst the starting five. We'll have to wait and see what head coach Mark Jackson decides his offensive philosophy will be this year.
Speaking of style, how will the W's play?
It remains to be seen what kind of team the Warriors will be. Bogut helps them defensively, but they're still not strong in that department overall. And they probably won't be the running team they've been in the past. At the same time they have some terrific shooters, and a couple of big men in David Lee and Bogut, who can pass. It will take a while for this team to develop an identity.
Jackson is a big proponent of defense, and will likely play a slower game offensively that in previous years with Bogut on the floor. Still, there are a lot of young guys on this team, and could play a very fast-paced, high-flying style of offense as well.
Who's the backup center?
The battle for minutes at the backup center spot will be between Andris Biedrins and rookie Festus Ezeli. Bogut's minutes are likely going to be limited - particularly early in the season - so there are minutes to be had at center.
Biedrins has been flat-out terrible over the past few seasons, which means Ezeli has a legitimate chance at garnering more minutes. There is also Jeremy Tyler to consider, who could be a big help if he can get his game together on both ends of the floor.
Training camp and the preseason should be an interesting time for this team as coach Jackson looks to mold his players into a cohesive unit worthy of a playoff spot.