It seems like just yesterday we were watching Lebron James sob on the floor of Oracle Arena, as Stephen Curry and Draymond Green watched from afar. That night was 104 days ago, but thanks to a whirlwind of an offseason for the league and Golden State in particular, June 19th feels like it just happened.
But you know what? The universe doesn’t stop for nobody! The earth keeps spinning and the 2017 season is just beginning.
The NBA Preseason began with the Warriors playing the Raptors north of the border in Vancouver, followed by the Mavericks against the Pelicans at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. For the Mavericks, Pelicans, and Raptors, 2017 is all about improving upon last year, whether that means moving up in the playoff standings or just making the playoffs in general. But for the Warriors, 2017 has a much different feel.
With the addition of Kevin Durant, expectations for the Warriors have skyrocketed to ridiculous proportions.
“82-0! Dual MVPs for Durant and Curry! Another championship parade in Oakland, book it!”
Slowwwwww your roll there, Twitter tweeters. Half of the Warriors players from 2015 and 2016, mostly from their deep bench, are elsewhere, leaving Coach Steve Kerr with a solid, yet brand new, championship caliber team. Kerr spoke with the media after practice on Thursday about the new feel of the team.
“The practices have gone well, which means it doesn’t look like a brand new team…the fact that we have seven or eight returning guys means that everyone kind of knows our drills, knows what we’re doing, so practices have been smooth and fresh because of the new blood that’s here.”
It remains to be seen how quickly new players like Zaza Pachulia and David West will pick up Golden State’s offense but Kerr admits the first week of the preseason will be pretty rough, thanks to a quick ramp-up to the first preseason game.
“I’ve never seen an exhibition game come four days after the start of camp, that’s bizarre, so [the first game] is about conditioning and getting to know one another, getting to know our style.”
After the Warriors’ first game in Vancouver, the team will head back to Oakland to face the Clippers and Kings on October 4th and 6th. After that, Golden State’s next preseason game isn’t until October 14th against the Nuggets in Denver. Kerr hopes that week off will help the team grow and learn the Warriors style of play.
“The real work will come that week off after the third exhibition game…that week’s going to be critical, that’s when we’re going to put more of our stuff in, start thinking more about rotations.”
The preseason helps teams get to know each other better, both on and off the court, and it’s also the time for the new players and young guys to get some quality minutes. Look for the Warriors Big 5 (Curry, Thompson, Green, Durant, and Iguodala) to rest a lot during these games, especially towards the end of the seven game preseason schedule.
Although the team needs to bond and learn each other’s tendencies, the Warriors are looking more into the future, particularly to the month of June, so rest at any time of the season is a good thing. And with the new acquisitions needing a lot of minutes to learn and grow within Golden State’s system, don’t expect anything amazing from the Warriors during the early exhibition games.
"The first three games, it's not going to look pretty, I can tell you that,” Kerr said with a smile.