Friday, 15 August 2014

5 Must-See National TV Warriors Games This Season

The NBA released the 2014-15 season schedule on Wednesday and the Golden State Warriors, rewarded with another strong year will have a total of 19 National TV appearances (not including NBA TV). This upcoming season is a major test for the Warriors who seek to move into the upper echelon of the Western Conference. With that being said, let's take a quick look at the five National TV Golden State games you cannot miss.

Golden State vs Oklahoma City | December 18th, 2014 | TNT
Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry, two of the most elite point guards in the NBA will face off for the second time in the 2014-15 season but this will be the first meeting at the Oracle Arena. With widely distinct skillsets, look for Westbrook to attack aggressively off the dribble while Steph finds his range from downtown. Of course, we cannot forget the reigning MVP Kevin Durant. Last season, two of the three Warriors vs Thunder games came down to only one possession. This year may be no different.

Golden State @ LA Clippers | December 25th, 2014 | TNT
The two California teams who faced each other in last season's first round playoff matchup will once again take the big stage on Christmas Day. This game promises alley-oops, dunks and threes and course, it will be a physical one. Marresse Speights, Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut will do all they can to give Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan an earful. History says it may be possible that we see a lot of technicals and flagrants. While everyone is certain to tune in to LeBron's Miami return on this special occasion, the Dubs/Clips matchup is one that cannot be slept on.

Golden State vs Cleveland | January 9th, 2015 | ESPN
LeBron and the Cavaliers will make their only visit to Golden State on this date. Our eyes will all be on The King but let us not forget that Kevin Love will be in a Cavs jersey. Golden State reportedly was unwilling to part with Klay Thompson in a Love trade this offseason. Thus, this matchup could become an evaluation of whether the Warriors front office made the right decision for the team.

Golden State vs San Antonio | February 20th, 2015 | ESPN
Prior to the extended All-Star break, the Dubs will get another chance to face the defending NBA Champions on their home floor. The Warriors lost all four games against the Spurs last season and must solve the balanced San Antonio attack. This matchup will be an interesting one as it the possibility of Gregg Popovich resting Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and/or Manu Ginobili is intriguing.

Golden State vs Denver | April 15th, 2015 | ESPN
In the 2013 NBA Playoffs, the Golden State Warriors surprised and overwhelmed the Denver Nuggets without David Lee. Denver, an underrated team with depth at multiple positions will look to regroup with healthy bodies and make a playoff push this upcoming season. Just a year removed from their 57-win season, the Nuggets uptempo style alone will certainly make this matchup a must-watch. This game is the last game of the regular season for the Warriors and it could have playoff significance for seeding.

Which Warriors games are you looking forward to? Let me know in the comments section below.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Making a case for trading Harrison Barnes

The Golden State Warriors drafted Harrison Barnes with the 7th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft hoping he could become one of the top two-way forwards in the league. Although Barnes had a mediocre showing during the regular season in his rookie year, he filled in remarkably well for the injured David Lee in the playoffs. As a result, the expectations for his sophomore season rose and many believed Barnes was primed for a breakout season. Unfortunately, Barnes' production has stayed relatively stagnant ever since while his efficiency has decreased. According to Basketball Reference, Harrison Barnes had a 9.8 PER last season which was well below the league average (15.0 PER). The addition of Andre Iguodala last summer which saw Barnes move into a 6th man role may have stunted the sophomore's development. However, while Barnes received a slight uptick in minutes, he experienced a fallback from a statistical standpoint. The small forward posted lower shooting percentages in multiple categories (.399 FG%, .347 3P%, .419 2P% and .718 FT% compared to .439 FG%, .359 3P%, .464 2P% and .758 FT%).

Harrison Barnes is only 22 years old and he definitely still has room to grow. He used mismatches to his advantage well by taking bigs off the dribble and posting up smaller guys in the 2012 NBA Playoffs. Yet, Barnes is not a particularly good shot creator for himself or playmaker for his teammates. He has played the best ball of his young career as a small-ball power forward but with the emergence of Draymond Green, could the Warriors use him as a trade chip to address other team needs? It is clear that Barnes and Green have fairly contrasting skill sets and they can coexist with each other on the floor. Frankly, when you also factor in Klay Thompson's upcoming extension (or new contract depending if he hits restricted free agency), Golden State will have limited financial flexibility even with the rising cap.

The Warriors are in win-now mode but they still have some holes to fill in the roster. Could they flip Barnes for a go-to-scorer off the bench and another asset or future compensation? New head coach Steve Kerr mentioned in his intro press conference that he would like to obtain a stretch four. Would they be able to use Barnes as a centerpiece in a trade for someone like Ryan Anderson or Ersan Ilyasova? Maybe Golden State tries experimenting with starting Harrison Barnes at the 4 and bringing David Lee off the bench in the preseason. Or perhaps the Warriors just ride it out with Barnes as the 6th man and he makes huge strides next season, proving he can lead the bench unit.

What do you think the Warriors should do with Harrison Barnes? Let me know in the comments section below.