Coming off their victory Wednesday night against the New York Knicks, the Golden State Warriors are 6-2. Undefeated at home and playing well on the road, is this the year the Warriors return to the playoffs?
For starters, the team’s currently boasting the second-leading scorer in the NBA with Monta Ellis and his 27.1 PPG. Alongside him are a bevy of quality players rounding out the starting five.
Second-year player and Rookie of the Year runner-up Stephen Curry is doing wonders at the point guard position, working well with Ellis in the backcourt and not being hampered by an early ankle injury. Newcomer David Lee has been manning the power forward slot, posting up solid numbers in the paint and rebounding at a high level now that he’s not asked to be the primary scorer on the team.
Another newcomer is Dorell Wright, who is an early breakout player of the year candidate after spending six years with the Miami Heat. At only 24 years old, he has averaged 16.3 points a game, 5 rebounds a game, over 3 3-pointers a game, as well as providing solid defense on the wing. Rounding out the starting five is center Andris Biedrins, who already has a 20 rebound game and is providing a solid interior presence after an injury-filled last season.
Looking at the bench, while it may not be filled with elite sixth-man company other top teams employ, there is the right mix of youth and veteran presence to have a bench that can contribute at all times.
Starting with the backup guards, D-League standout Reggie Williams is an instant scoring threat off the bench and is looking to continue his hot start from last season in his first full season. Also on the wing is Rodney Carney, an athletic first-round pick who looks to have found a role on a team fitting his style of play.
A veteran anchoring the backcourt, Charlie Bell, whom the team acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks with Dan Gadzuric for Corey Maggette, serves as the solid veteran for young guards such as Curry and undrafted rookie Jeremy Lin. A 2010 summer league standout, Lin has slowly developed into a reliable backup point guard.
As for the frontcourt, the Warriors feature Gadzuric, Brandan Wright, and Vladimir Radmonovic off the bench. They are all serviceable backups who each have found a nice role to contribute to their team when called upon. Also joining the frontcourt in the near future will be Louis Amundson and 2010 first-round pick Ekpe Udoh, both of whom are defensive-minded and hustle players.
Perhaps the biggest move this offseason that has perhaps initiated this fast start to the season is the switch at head coach. Previously manned by Don Nelson and has all-offense, no-defense philosophy, now enters Keith Smart in his first real shot at being an NBA head coach.
Aside from his interim status for the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this decade, Smart, who has been an assistant coach for the Warriors for over six seasons, has promised to bring a different mentality to his team while still featuring a run-and-gun style offense. Stressing areas such as rebounding and overall team defense, viewers of the team are seeing a side of this Bay Area team they have not seen for a very long time.
Combining all of the changes in the off-season, new personnel, and a fast start to the season, the Warriors have a lot to look forward to as the season progresses. Granted, the team has faced a relatively light starting schedule; only 2 of the 8 teams they have faced so far made the playoffs last year. Despite this, this team is exuding an optimism and style of play that has put the team on notice for the rest of the NBA.