The Golden State Warriors caught plenty of headlines early in the NBA free agency period when they unloaded a load of salary in a trade with the Utah Jazz and then signed Andre Iguodala. The Warriors were knocked out in six games by the San Antonio Spurs in the second round of the Western conference playoffs. Golden State now have the starting line-up and depth that suggests they are legitimate NBA championship contenders in 2014.
The Warriors impressed just about everyone during the 2013 NBA playoffs with their brilliant shooting and scoring ability. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson elevated themselves to stardom status, while Harrison Barnes emerged as one of the more promising young players in the league.
After a brief pursuit of Dwight Howard, which would have required significant salary shifting, the Warriors found a trading partner in Utah to unload salary and then signed free agent Iguodala.
Suddenly, their starting line-up likely features Curry-Thompson-Iguodala-David Lee-Andrew Bogut. Curry and Thompson are two of the game’s most promising shooters, Iguodala is a player who can drive the basket and get out and run. Lee is a tough veteran, who can shoot the ball, while Bogut remains a bit of an x-factor. The big center has played extremely small through much of his career, but he really emerged during the playoff run. Can he bring the same grit, compete level and battle again in 2013-14?
That line-up would mean that Barnes, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green would all be coming off the bench. As an eight-man rotation there are few deeper and better in the NBA.
The time is certainly ripe for a run. Miami are a two-time champion with some questions about possible weaknesses particularly considering Dwyane Wade’s injury concerns. Houston are still a team with questions despite and frankly centering around the addition of Howard. Oklahoma City had serious concerns highlighted last year and San Antonio are yet another year older.
Iguodala gives this team another offensive threat. A man who can strike on the break and attack the basket aggressively. His main weakness is that he isn’t the greatest shooter. The good news is that the Warriors don’t exactly need a shooter given the presence of Curry and Thompson, not to mention Barnes and to a lesser extent Lee.
Of course, it won’t be as easy for Curry and Thompson to sneak up upon opponents as it was last season and the additional attention that Golden State will inevitably receive is something that head coach Mark Jackson will have to manage and deal with.
Still, there is genuine reason to see the Warriors as a serious 2014 NBA championship contender.