The Golden State Warriors were clearly riding high entering the preseason. After their second title in three years and first with Kevin Durant in the fold, the Warriors are back with a vengeance--just ask Draymond Green.
While the team could be forgiven for not storming through the preseason, their x-x record is still somewhat disappointing. There were certainly some high points for the team, and those high points should carry over more than their lackadaisical effort in their preseason losses.
September 30th, 2017: Denver Nuggets 108, Golden State Warriors 102
This game was not as close as the final score would indicate--the Nuggets had a comfortable lead before both benches hit the floor in the fourth quarter. The Warriors might have been thrown off by starting the preseason in September, but this game was not even close to their best effort. Their Offensive Rating of 100.6 would stand out as problematic against any team, but especially against last year's 29th-ranked defense.
Other than Klay Thompson, Golden State's key players all had poor performances. Steph Curry went 3-12, Andre Iguodala went 1-7, and Draymond Green went 2-9. The team shot a ghastly 4-33 from deep, including 0-5 marks from Green and Kevin Durant.
On the other end, Paul Millsap started off his Nuggets career on a high note. He scored 22 points on just 11 shots and added 11 rebounds and excellent defense. Denver's defense might have finished last year as the second-worst in the league, but Millsap should improve that mark for Denver in 2017-18.
October 5th, 2017: Minnesota Timberwolves 111, Golden State Warriors 97
While the Warriors' offense put up fewer points with a lower Offensive Rating than they did against Denver, this game was actually more encouraging for Golden State. The starters all shot 50% or better from the floor, and the poor overall offense was dragged down by an abysmal 14-point fourth quarter with the deep bench players and training camp invites running the show.
This game was marred by Nick Young's poor performance--a continuation of quite a few negative storylines surrounding Swaggy P so far this season. He reportedly (and visibly) showed up to training camp out of shape. His shot has been erratic so far, and this game was troubling, to say the least--Young went 1-5 from deep and missed all five of his free throws. Given the strong performance by Omri Casspi and the Warriors' depth on the wing, Nick Young might play far fewer minutes this year than the team would have hoped.
October 8th, 2017: Golden State Warriors 142, Minnesota Timberwolves 110
It is easy to draw far stronger conclusions from preseason games than what is actually accurate for the teams in question. The Golden State Warriors proved that pretty definitely in this game, as they absolutely demolished the Timberwolves in Shanghai after their disappointing loss in Shenzhen.
The Timberwolves actually led for most of the first half, and it looked like they could sweep the Warriors. Then Steph Curry happened:
Curry finished the game with 40 points and the Warriors ran away with the game in the second half. The team did not show much defensive focus in the first half, but they turned it up after the break. Golden State dominated the third quarter 38-23; that third quarter dominance was key to their playoff success last season and they appear to be right back on track.
Friday, October 13th: Golden State Warriors 117, Sacramento Kings 106
The Warriors closed out their preseason with a 117-106 win over the Sacramento Kings. The game was far closer in the first half, as the Warriors led 54-51 before both teams pulled most of their starters in the second half. Steph Curry built on his strong second game in China, finishing with 18 points on 12 shots in only 19 minutes.
In a game when the starters sat for almost the entire second half, some of Golden State's bench players had chances to shine in this game. The most impressive player among that group was Jordan Bell. Despite his lack of an offensive game beyond his surprisingly good passing vision, Bell controlled the game in the third quarter. He crashed the glass effectively and anchored the team's defense. Bell's defensive talent and defensive IQ are well beyond normal rookie levels, and he could work his way into the rotation earlier in the season than some might predict.
The Golden State Warriors have little reason to be concerned coming into the 2017-18 season. Even though their preseason performance was not spectacular, they had plenty of positive moments to confirm that they will once again be a juggernaut. While there were some minor troubling signs during the preseason, the Warriors have little to fear as they prepare to defend their title.