New look Warriors

The Golden State Warriors face an uncertain next 12 months. After reaching five consecutive NBA finals in which they won three, they retooled the roster in preparation for the 2020 season. While the All-Star core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green remains intact, Kevon Looney is the only other surviving member of their championship core.

The four games to two finals loss to Kawhi Leonard’s Raptors will still be raw in the minds of both players and fans. Before Thompson went down with a devastating ACL tear, it seemed like the Warriors were going to take the series to seven games and potentially win another title. The injuries suffered by Thompson and Kevin Durant may have ended the Warriors dynasty prematurely. But while the All-NBA talents of Curry, Draymond and Green remain, the Warriors will continue to be dangerous.

D’Angelo Russell

Many shocking moves were made during the first few days of Free Agency, none more so than D’Angelo Russell’s move to the Warriors. After Kevin Durant left, the Warriors were over the cap looking like there was no way to improve the team. By executing a sign and trade with the Nets it meant they got something back for Durant, while signing an All-Star and one of the best young guards in the game. Russell took a massive step forward last season for the Nets. Posting a career best stat line of 21 points, four rebounds and seven assists, Russell dragged the Nets back to the playoffs. His three point and mid range shooting were both improved, while his impressive handle and ball control opened up his passing game. With Thompson’s injury and the need to manage Curry’s minutes, Russell will be free to run amok with Draymond on offense.

Other signings

Though they had to say goodbye to key pieces Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala, this created space to enable them to stay competitive. Kevon Looney was a key resigning in this regard. At the bargain price of five million they brought back a guy with championship experience who can play on both ends. He will be a key part of the team moving forward. Being over the salary cap now means they have only been able to bring in players on minimum contracts.

Arguably the best center available at this price was Willie Cauley-Stein. An athletic rim running big, Willie is the energy piece the Warriors need. Playing for his next contract, he will provide great value on the minimum salary. Glenn Robinson III was also signed at the minimum. Robinson is an interesting prospect, still only 26. Coming off serious injuries the last few years, Robinson is an ex dunk contest winner who shot 39% from three point land for the Indiana Pacers. In real need of someone to play the three, Robinson if fit could have a breakout season for the Warriors.

There is one other intriguing signing who may have flown under the radar this summer. The Warriors traded two second round pick and cash to the New Orleans Pelicans to get 18 year old Alen Smailagic. The youngest ever G-league player at 17 last year, Smailagic has a unique blend of size and skill. At 6’10 he can shoot, put the ball on the floor and defend. With the Warriors star core all around the age of 30, young prospects like Smailagic are key to the future of the franchise.

Though this Warriors team may not contend for a championship this year, while they have four All-NBA talents they will continue to be a threat. If Klay Thompson returns and they are in the postseason, don’t be surprised to see another playoff run. There is no substitute for championship experience!

Warriors – Raptors Game One points

The Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors squared up in Game one of the NBA finals in Toronto yesterday. Led by Pascal Siakam’s 32 points, the Raptors comfortably put the Warriors away 118 – 109. Kevin Durant was cleared not fit to play, while DeMarcus Cousins was cleared for his first game since injuring his thigh in the first round of the Playoffs.

Draymond Green couldn’t guard Pascal Siakam

This Game was Siakam’s coming out party in this Playoffs. Though he had massive games in all three previous playoff rounds, his 32 points was a Playoff career high. The Warriors geared their defense towards shutting down Kawhi Leonard. By putting Draymond Green on Siakam, Coach Steve Kerr thought Green could help off of Siakam and shut Kawhi down. Siakam saw this as an opportunity to take it right to Green though. Siakam’s size advantage coupled with his ball handling and crafty post moves meant he was able to score on Green a massive seven times out of ten. Though Green is a great man defender he struggled to body up Siakam, and as he had picked up early fouls this made the job on Siakam even harder.

Marc Gasol’s game is a perfect for the Raptors

When Marc Gasol was traded to the Toronto Raptors at the trade deadline, Masai Ujiri knew he was getting an elite defender who could stretch the floor with shooting and passing ability. Gasol has surpassed expectations this postseason with his defensive savvy and timely scoring. On the Memphis Grizzlies he had almost double the usage he has now for Toronto. Not bothered by having less touches, he has been excellent at setting screens and passing out of the low post. He was a +8 in yesterdays game, his best rating since game five of the 76ers series.

In yesterdays game he defended all the way out to the perimeter when needed. He also hit two three pointers and had a game best 107 defensive rating when he was on the floor. The Warriors smaller lineups may struggle to defend him down low as they don’t have the massive rim presence that previous Raptors opponents had.

Fred VanVleet has improved as the Playoffs have gone on

After shooting a measly 12% in the series against the 76ers on only two points a game, Fred VanVleet bounced back to the tune of 47% shooting against the Bucks. Yesterday he was five of eight from the field and was a team high +11. His quickness and use of off ball screens mean he is a threat from anywhere on the court. While his catch and shoot game is also strong, his shooting came on in the last series when he was able to shoot three pointers from Kawhi Leonard drives. Not known as an elite defender, yesterday when guarding Stephen Curry he limited him to only one of six shooting. This is an added bonus for the Raptors if VanVleet can continue to limit Curry.