With their hearts set on a third championship in four years, the headstrong Golden State Warriors face a season filled with matchups of all sorts of threats. In my opinion, it would seem that every team, West or East, has something to prove. Teams like the Houston Rockets or the Oklahoma City Thunder intend to prove the strength of their newly formed alliances. Other teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers are looking toward the young blood of their teams for momentum and energy.
The Warriors find themselves as a medium between extremes. Having young hungry role players((Kevon Looney, Patrick McCaw and others)) while maintaining the all-star starting team ((Curry, Klay, KD and Draymond)) the Warriors have the responsibility of using all of their players to their full potential. Their s“superteam” is in it’s supposed sophomore year with Kevin Durant continuing his journey with Curry, Klay and Draymond. These four all-stars, having come off a virtually flawless championship run, are now in the process of restructuring their offense with the addition of a deeper bench. Not only do the scoring options of Nick Young and others allow for a more versatile second and third team, it also takes the scoring pressure off of the starters. There have been several games this season where the Warriors have benefited from a strong bench presence.
Multiple times their bench production have given them strong advantages even so much as securing the win. On Oct.. 30, behind by 54 bench points — — the most this season by Golden State — — the Warriors pulled off their 12th straight win against the Los Angeles Clippers. This signifies the importance of the bench and its importance to the future of the season. With this importance comes the responsibility for the bench to produce consistently each game. That way, offenses and lineups can be structured with the bench presence in mind. If the bench doesn’t give consistent production, however, the coaching staff and starters must scramble to alleviate any inconsistency. On Oct.. 29 against the Detroit Pistons, the Warriors’’ big 3 gave it everything they had, all posting efficient scoring numbers — Curry: 27, Thompson: 29, Durant: 28. However, the Achilles heel for this game was their insufficient bench scoring — 19 points — and their mass turnovers (25). The turnover numbers will, hopefully decrease as the season continues and, for now, and in my opinion, is the result of slow start. Nonetheless, the bench plays the role this season of sustaining leads, giving new blood a chance to find their shot and their overall role on the team, and to provide a solid offense and defense to allow the starters the rest needed to come back charged and prepared.
We’ve seen in the first ten games that Steve Kerr and staff have decided to experiment with his rotations seeing a mix of first, second and third team lineups. Kerr has done so in an effort to foster a more consistent bench production. To do this, he has paired veteran role players with young new players hoping to guide them through in-game action. One of these lineups have been setting up 2016 Defensive Player of the Year, Draymond Green, with first year Oregon duck rookie, Jordan Bell and 2015 NBA Finals MVP, Andre Iguodala, with second-year shooting guard, Patrick McCaw. Not only has this allowed us to see a mix of first, second and third team counterparts playing together, these mix of lineups give the young players a chance to test their leadership skills alongside veterans that can actively critique their decision making.
It will be very interesting to see what other combinations of experienced veterans, role players and young upstarts will work together this season given this sliver of data we’ve been given thus far. While many believe Warriors will have their work cut out for them, given the centralized talent of a select number of teams in the West — Houston, OKC, Minnesota, San Antonio, etc. — this may be easier said than done. Even their Finals rivals, the Cleveland Cavaliers, have met a healthy opposition from the East this season. Similar to the Warriors, the Cavs enter the season with a strong starting 5 and an intimidating bench of role players. However, in their first ten games, they are 12th in the East with a record of 4-6. Even with 2003 Draft Class members and best friend duo, Lebron James and Dwyane Wade reunited, the Cavs are still scrambling to fill the void of recently traded point guard, Kyrie Irving. If these inaugural games are any indication, I believe that the 2017-2018 NBA season will be very exciting and entertaining.