The NBA season officially began Tuesday night with a doubleheader, and in the main event, the hoops world was treated to a showdown between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers. One thing I took away from the season opener is what I’ve been saying all along. The Warriors will contend this season because this isn’t the same team we watched just a year ago.
No, I’m not crowning them as champions already. It’s just one game, but within that 48-minute session, the Warriors made a statement. They came out and put the league on notice last night. Last year’s Warriors are no more, and this squad is ready to compete and go far in the postseason this year.
Stephen Curry posted one of the quietest triple-doubles ever witnessed with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. It didn’t feel like it through most of this game, but Curry was putting in work; it just wasn’t in his usual manner. We know he’ll eventually heat up, but it seems he may have more consistent help carrying the scoring load this year.
The Warriors bench is what really impressed against the Lakers, scoring 55 of the team’s 121 points. Golden State will need to lean on the depth of its bench, having only one proven scoring star in Curry. The biggest surprise off the bench was Nemanja Bjelica with a double-double, scoring 15 points with 11 rebounds in 26 minutes. Bjelica’s output wasn’t any surprise to Draymond Green, who called it before the season.
I think the biggest wild card for the Warriors this year (aside from Klay Thompson’s return) will be the production they get from Jordan Poole. It was a slow start for Poole on opening night, but he ended the game with 20 points. He needs to be that second consistent scoring option for the Warriors, and I think he can be that over the first couple of months of the season. I expect him to have a couple of clunkers, but they’re going to play a lot of bad teams throughout the regular season, so I think it will all even out as the season progresses. If Poole can give the Warriors somewhere around 17-18 points per game, they’ll be just fine.
These Warriors should be in perfect position to make a run if Steph gets consistent help in the scoring department and if they clean up some of the sloppy play we saw in the first half against the Lakers. Curry is known to get a little reckless with the ball, and last night the Warriors committed 17 turnovers. Luckily the Lakers let ‘em off the hook and returned the favor, matching Golden State with 17 of their own.
All I’m trying to convey is teams around the NBA need to take these Warriors seriously. Thompson and James Wiseman aren’t even active yet and may not be for a while longer. DO NOT sleep on the Golden State Warriors, for those who choose to do so will end up being put to sleep like the Lakers were at Staples Center on opening night.
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