High expectations for Golden State
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Optimism pervades at the Warriors' practice facility in downtown Oakland. It's media day, and the team, from management on down, exudes giddy anticipation.
This was a Warriors media day unlike any other in at least a decade. Players spoke of a championship as an actual goal. Such a proclamation would have been laughable in recent (and even not-so-recent) years. This time it's different.
Since they're new, the Warriors are in a good spot. There's optimism without expectations, positivity without pressure.
"I love this team!" actor Michael Rapaport exclaimed at center court. Though a die-hard Knicks fan, he's here to check out whatever the Warriors are building. After treating the nation to an exciting first-round upset of the Denver Nuggets, Golden State emerged as the second-favorite team for a lot of fans. The advantage of never having been good is that you've made few enemies.
Despite all the happy talk, there's a lot of work to be done, a lot of unanswered questions. Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry carried the Warriors' bench last year. Both of them left for more lucrative offers.
To compensate, the Warriors added former All-Star Andre Iguodala, D-and-3 guard Toney Douglas, plus pick-and-pop specialist Marreese Speights. Iguodala is the big addition, though, as he can conceivably replace Jack's point guard duties while providing value elsewhere.
"I'm just bringing my experience, court savvy, versatility. Hopefully, I'll make every guy on this team a better basketball player," Iguodala said.
When asked if his addition might take some valuable development time away from Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes, the newest Golden State starter countered: "We'll all be better basketball players. As far as how we compete with each other, we're all going to play a whole lot of minutes. You might even see all three of us in at the same time on the perimeter. So I'm really excited about that group, just to show people how versatile I am, and not taking anything away from these guys, but adding to their game."
With so many wings on the roster, Barnes might be the odd man out -- even though he's coming right off a breakout postseason. That is, unless the Warriors can find more time for him at the 4-spot, where he thrived against Denver in the first round.
"I like the stretch 4 role," Barnes said. "Thought I had some good success there, but, obviously, I'm naturally a 3."
The power forward slot is currently occupied by All-Star David Lee. Mark Jackson has a lot of choices on his hands, in part because so many of his players don't fit a positional prototype. Barnes is a small forward who might excel at the power forward spot. Iguodala is an off guard who can guard 3s and play point guard. Lee is at his best offensively when playing the 5. Douglas is point guard sized but struggles to run the point.
Maybe it's up to the Warriors' superstar to sort all this out.
"If we're playing well and we're becoming a better team than we were last year, I think I'd have a lot to do with it," Stephen Curry said amid flashing cameras. "Finding out how to gel with some new guys we have on our team and how to make the guys I haven't played with before even better. That's my job."
The Warriors might have too many viable options, but there are certainly worse problems. If Andrew Bogut and Curry are healthy this season, Golden State should be good at the very least.
Taking "good" and improving on it is something of an obsession for Curry.
"It's a game of imperfection to a certain point, and it's just about doing it at as high a level as you can," he said when discussing the impossibility of ever truly mastering a skill. When asked whether he ever gets bored when practicing his shot, Curry responded while smirking: "No. Because I miss."
MORE NBA HEADLINES
- LeBron says he is going back to Cleveland
- Sources: Bosh agrees to max deal with Heat
- Reports: Gasol closing in on deal with Bulls
- Source: Love 'intrigued' by deal to Cavaliers