The Golden State Warriors, sitting on a 41-7 record, could opt to play conservative and allow the current roster to marinate and gel until the playoffs. However, doing so would be ignoring some glaring holes on the team. The squad clearly has a turnover and clutch-time problems, which can be remedied with steady guard play, more shooters (shocking), and a solid backup for starting power forward Draymond Green. These moves would alleviate the load on KD to get the bench unit going when the other starters are out at the end of the 1st quarter and beginning of the 2nd.
The Warrior’s biggest obstacles standing in the way of a championship comes down to the size of San Antonio’s frontcourt, consisting of Gasol, Aldridge, and Leonard. Integrating Gasol into the San Antonio has been a struggle for Coach Pop this season, as Gasol is averaging a career-low 11.7 points on a career-low 26.4 minutes per game. An encouraging sign for the Spurs, however, is Gasol’s career-high 46.5% from 3, while shooting the most (1.1/g) and making the most of his career (0.5/g). This valuable floor spacing will drift Draymond Green or Zaza Pachulia out to the perimeter, allowing Aldridge to go one on one for offensive rebounds with an undersized Draymond Green or an outmatched and outmuscled Zaza Pachulia.
Furthermore, in the first meeting of the Spurs-Warriors to open the season, Kawhi and Aldridge proved to be too much for the new-look Warriors, even while on the road. Kawhi and Lamarcus combined for 61 points, 19 rebounds, and 6 assists; Kawhi has taken a major step forward offensively this season, and this game really set the tone for another MVP-like and DPOY-like season for Leonard.
If the Warriors do manage to get past San Antonio, they are almost destined to meet LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in a 3rd consecutive Finals matchup. The same issue of size and perimeter defenders will be the main focus when trying to contain Kyrie Irving, Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith, and Iman Shumpert.
Tristan Thompson on the offensive glass could also be a problem, and if JaVale McGee isn’t ready to step up and match the energy and consistency Thompson provides, we could see a repeat of last year’s Finals. Tristan erupted for an average of 10.1 rebounds per game, including 4 offensive. And, of course, there remains the issue of LeBron James, where the Dubs can throw out newly acquired Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green, and perhaps even Shaun Livingston. Last year’s efforts, however, as we all know, proved to be futile during the Warriors collapse of a 3-1 lead.
So, to bolster Golden State’s chances of a championship, they might consider picking up these 3 free agents for the playoffs.
Somewhat familiar with the Warriors schemes and a key member of the resurgence of the Warriors during the 2012-13 campaign, Jack could provide steady guard play, capable of creating his own shot and setting up the bevy of 3 point shooters on the roster. Last season, with Brooklyn, Jack averaged almost 13 points and 7 assists a game in 32 games as a starter, showing he is still capable of playing solid basketball.
Coming off his injury and the thought of a ring could incentivize him to sign for cheap on this loaded roster. Although the Warriors have an established guard rotation, Jack could provide valuable playoff experience, capable of directing the offense if an injury occurred to main ball handlers, Steph Curry or Shaun Livingston. Relying on rookie Patrick McCaw or youngster Ian Clark could be disastrous against a team like Memphis or San Antonio, who are elite at blitzing the ball and creating turnovers, especially young guards like these.
It may seem like I’m trying to recreate the 2012 roster, but trust me, I’m not… I think. Currently, there is a gaping hole at the backup PF spot behind Draymond Green. Bringing in Carl Landry, a career 10.8 ppg scorer and a much-improved rebounder and 3-point shooter, would provide more depth, range, and size for the team behind Draymond Green and currently injured David West. A dual power forward lineup of West and Landry with KD could provide solid spacing, yet enough rebounding to battle with the top frontcourts in the NBA, let alone the top bench units.
Before leaving the Bucks due to mental health issues, Larry Sanders was on the come up, on his way to becoming an All-Star. I see him as New York Knick Tyson Chandler-esque, with terrific rebounding, finishing, and defending. With rumors heating up about a possible return, the Warriors would be smart to give a shot to the once-promising big man, who erupted in his 2012 breakout campaign when he averaged 9.8 PPG, 9.5 RPG, and 2.8 BPG.
His 99 defensive rating would place him top 10 in the league this season, even better than DPOY-favorite Draymond Green. His low mileage, versatility to slide to the 4, and opportunity to join one of the best situations in the NBA would also make the transition even smoother. This could be a low risk, high reward move that can give the Dubs a legit rim protector (I know they lead the league in blocks) and put them over the top.
(Sleeper) Hollis Thompson
An oft-forgotten player of the 76ers for the last 4 years, Hollis Thompson quietly had a solid campaign for the 76ers. His 39% shooting from deep (over half of his shots come from 3) fits the warrior mold of having shooters on the floor. Furthermore, at 6’8, he can serve as a lengthy defender, capable of putting a body on the Kawhi Leonard’s, Trevor Ariza’s, and Gordon Hayward’s of the West off switches on defense, if necessary.
Honorable Mentions: Kirk Hinrich, Mario Chalmers