Ending their 40 year wait for the NBA title, the Bay Area was sent into a frenzy in the summer of 2015 as the Warriors captured the 2015 NBA Title, beating Cleveland 4-2 in the NBA Finals.
The regular season ended 67-15 for the Warriors in the competitive Western Conference and 16-5 as the post season record. The Warriors’ 83-20 is the 3rd best combined regular and post-season record in NBA history. With squad members such as Curry and Thompson in particular breaking several records through the season, the question now is, can the Warriors defend their crown with the same high standards they set last season?
The biggest positive for the Warriors is that their core team and valuable contributors have stayed on. Yes, they have lost David Lee who was traded to Warriors but he was not happy with the bench role. The Warriors could miss his solid contributions off the bench, which were really effective Game 3 onwards in the 2015 finals.
They have lost bench players Justin Holiday and Ognjen Kuzmić during Free Agency but it will really not affect the well-balanced squad. A major addition to the team has been Chris Babb who impressed in the NBA D-League. Once again, the Warriors on paper seem to be a well-balanced side, and led by the Splash Brothers, they will be looking to break their 3-point field goal records as they look to defend their crown once again.
However, on a downside for the Warriors, Coach Kerr is out for an indefinite period to rehabilitate his back, following complaints of pain and a surgery after the end of the season. With no date set for his return, his tactics (using a mix of Pop’s tactics and Phil Jackson’s offensive techniques) will be missed. The Warriors, however, still have Luke Walton, who is a capable backup. But Coach Kerr will still be a loss reflected strongly in the team.
The preseason has not been good so far with the Warriors having won only once in three games so far. Both defeats have been by double-digit margins which might cause some concern, but pre-season form means nothing if there is a positive change in the regular season.
The Warriors team is on high morale, as shown by their responses to a recent press conference where Draymond Green and Stephen Curry replied to critics who said the Warriors faced an easy post season.
So given all this, The Warriors will still be favorites to retain their crown (and be the first team to do so since the Lakers in 2010), but this time they will face a much sterner Western Conference with the likes of San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets all stepping up their game.
The Warriors have their loud fans from the Bay Area backing them up to create an electrifying atmosphere that turned the Oracle Arena into a fortress last season. They can surely do it again!