Warriors Breakdown: What we know from the first preseason game
This was also the first chance for fans to see a revamped lineup with some familiar faces and new ones that hope to become part of the rotation.
Head coach Steve Kerr said before the game that his plan was to not let any of his starters play more than 20 minutes. He played 18 players in total — the starters played the first half and sat out the second.
Here are the takeaways from the first preseason game of the year.
Stephen Curry (PG):
Looks healthy and seems to have regained his explosiveness and ability to cut since he was last seen struggling in the NBA finals.
Was comfortable driving to the rim and got his only two-point field goal by going against Kyle Lowry. Finished 2-for-6 from the floor with eight points and two steals.
Klay Thompson (SG):
He took the bulk of the shots from beyond-the-arc. Matter of fact, he took more threes than the entire starting lineup put together, going 4-for-11 from deep.
He definitely has the ultimate green light and is enjoying the open looks from having two threats off the dribble in Curry and Durant.
Kevin Durant (SF):
He was overly eager in the first quarter, missing his first four shots, but made his fifth in a breakaway dunk. Finished 2-for-9 and seems like he’s still too used to having people get out of the way for him to work in isolation.
The sooner he abandons that mentality, the faster he’ll fit into Kerr’s system and reap the benefits of having two dead-eye shooters on the floor with him.
Draymond Green (PF):
Looks like his usual self on defense, getting strips and challenging shots inside and on the perimeter, but is reckless on offense and plays faster than he should, pushing the ball up the court and making poor decisions.
His experience in Rio was pretty much a free ride to a gold medal as he didn’t see any significant playing time and was out of sorts offensively.
Zaza Pachulia (C):
He’s no Andrew Bogut, but is still a decent rebounder and good at setting screens for Curry and Thompson on the perimeter. Played the least amount of minutes amongst all the starters with eight, and finished with a point, a steal, a block, and three rebounds.
Pachulia should fit in nicely in offensive sets as he is a willing passer and plays well with others on offensive sets, the question is if he will provide enough on the defensive end to cover the holes left by a high pace switch-style defense.
Highlights from the bench
Andre Iguodala (SF):
His back problem seems like a thing of the past. He has his natural spring back in his step and made a couple of big plays in the first half, including a buzzer-beating three at the end of the first quarter to give the Warriors a 22-20 lead.
David West (PF):
West can be an impact player for the Warriors. He played at the five-spot with Pachulia out of the lineup and was tenacious contesting shots and active on the glass. Offensively, West is a veteran with great passing instincts that understands the offense and can step out and make threes.
He led the Warriors in rebounds with six, and added six points, a steal, a block, and a trey to round it out.
Patrick McCaw (SG):
Simply put, the brightest star for the Warriors in this game. McCaw’s looks can be deceiving, standing at 6-foot-7 and a fragile 185-pound frame — but he’s a hawk just waiting for his opportunity to strike.
The rookie made the most out his 22 minutes of action, scoring 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting and recording team highs in assists and steals.
He showed great passing ability with three of his four assists coming on bounce passes for layup finishes. McCaw totaled three steals in the fourth quarter and had five total in the game.
He’s an excellent defender on and off the ball despite his thin composition and can definitely snag a role with the Warriors à la Kent Bazemore.
Ian Clark (PG):
Looks a lot more comfortable in the offense and is in line to getting more minutes thanks to the departure of Leandro Barbosa. He was assertive and played well with Durant and Thompson on the floor.
Scored eight points with three assists and two triples in 18 minutes of play.
Javale McGee (C):
Played 16 minutes and totalled five points, four rebounds and three blocks. McGee’s contributions could help Golden State as they badly need a shot-blocking presence to intimidate potential drivers out of the lane.
McGee played well and was energetic, but needs to be disciplined and know when to challenge a shot and when to keep a hand up and box out. If he can do so during the upcoming preseason games, he could land a roster spot and help the Warriors in an area of need.
Let’s address the elephant in the room — the Warriors need help on the glass and they need it bad. It was obvious during the Finals and it was even more apparent this game as they were out-rebounded 16 to nine on the offensive glass and 56 to 42 overall.
Because of the Warriors’ switch-happy defense, it often leaves them vulnerable to bodies crashing the boards. It was often one man against two or two against three and the Raptors got the better of them in most occasions.
Golden State was the best defensive rebounding team in the league last season and fourth in overall rebounding, but the departures of Bogut and Festus Ezeli leave a crater-sized hole on defense and it becomes harder for a volume-shooting team to keep afloat without offensive rebounds to get extra possessions.
Kerr does not have the depth to pull out all his starters and substitute 5-for-5 like he did all season long. By the looks of this game, it seems like Durant will be taken out early in opening quarters and re-inserted along with the bench unit, so that there’s always a go-to scorer with every support unit.
Curry and Durant seemed comfortable taking shots and didn’t seem to overpass. Thompson saw the bulk of the shots and can become the large beneficiary of this situation — his 16-point/no assist/no rebound-outing shows exactly what he’s meant to do in this system — shoot.
Green’s shots will definitely see the most steep decline. If Kerr has his way, he will be more selective with his three-point attempt and look to be a threat in the paint, with shooters at his disposal to give his offense plenty of options.