Done. Finished. Complete. The Warriors' preseason slate is now over and done with.
Time for the real fun to start.
That's right, folks. The dawn of the 2018-19 season is upon us, as the Dubs prepare to host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Opening Night on Tuesday. It'll be their first of 82 regular season games, over the course of which Golden State will attempt to set themselves up for what they hope to be yet another extended postseason run.
As part of our 2018-19 Season Preview, we've taken a closer look at the changes in the Warriors' roster from last season, as well as several upcoming individual milestones. Here, we close out the preview with its final installment – takeaways from the preseason:
Steph & Klay Ready to Fire Away:
If one thing was made evident throughout preseason play, it's that the Splash Brothers are already in midseason form when it comes to their three-point prowess. Both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were incredibly locked in from long distance over the course of Golden State's five exhibitions, as each made more than half their shots from beyond the arc. Curry made his first four attempts and finished the preseason having shot 14-of-27 (.519) from three-point range, while Thompson was even better than that, making 16 of his 29 three-point attempts to finish with the best preseason three-point percentage (.552) of any player in the NBA that attempted at least six treys per game.
Curry and Thompson are career 43.6 and 42.2 percent three-point shooters, respectively, and are the only two players in NBA history to make at least 200 treys in six consecutive seasons. Historically, they've both shot better from three-point range in the second half of the season than they have the first, but if they can carry their hot start into the beginning of the regular season, it will only aid them in their pursuit to make it seven-for-seven.
Follow Their Lead:
While the Splash Brothers were bright spots from three-point land in the preseason, the same cannot be said of the rest of the roster. Curry and Thompson combined to go 30-of-56 (.536) from beyond the arc, but the rest of their teammates shot just 20-of-89 (.225).
Now, it's a small sample size and one wouldn't expect those rates to continue into the regular season, but a more well-rounded three-point attack would serve Golden State well moving forward, particularly one that saw frequent contributions from the bench. The Dubs are coming off a season in which they ranked dead last in the NBA with only 160 made three-pointers from reserves, and while that weakness was mitigated by the success of the Splash Brothers, it's an area in which they'd like to see some improvement in the season ahead.
The Men in the Middle:
Assuming everyone is healthy, we know who will start at four of the five positions for the Warriors every night; the fifth, however, might be more of a mystery.
Curry, Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green are the four aforementioned All-Stars that will be on the court for the opening tip on a nightly basis, but the individual jumping for that ball could be any one of several individuals. Damian Jones, Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell all figure to play meaningful roles in the Warriors' big man rotation, and that doesn't even include fellow All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, who continues to rehab his way back from an Achilles injury.
Steve Kerr has already determined it will be Jones that gets the nod at center on Opening Night, and he made great use of his preseason opportunities, averaging 9.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 18.0 minutes per game. He ended on a high note, with 16 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting from the field in Friday's loss to the Lakers.
Between Jones, Looney and Bell – not to mention Cousins when the time comes – Steve Kerr has a plethora of big man options at his disposal to deploy as he sees fit. They all bring different skillsets and abilities to the table, and it will be interesting to watch how the hierarchy at that position develops.
Youth Movement in Effect:
Jones and Bell are both 23 years old. Looney doesn't turn 23 until February, is entering his fourth NBA season, and was the youngest player on Golden State's championship-clinching roster this past June. As previously mentioned, all three figure to see significant playing time this season.
Those three young big men will additionally play a major role in ushering in a youth movement to Golden State's roster, as the vast majority of reserves are still very much of the 'green' variety.
Quinn Cook, 25, will provide depth behind Shaun Livingston at the point guard position. Alfonzo McKinnie, 26, figures to be one of the wings off the bench, and has the length and athleticism to make an impact on both ends of the court. Looney is no longer the youngest player on the roster, as that honor goes to first round draft pick Jacob Evans, 21, who is expected to get backup minutes at the wing positions as well. Then there are the Warriors' two two-way players in Damion Lee (25) and Marcus Derrickson (22), who will split their time between Santa Cruz and Golden State over the course of the year.
The youth movement is perhaps the biggest and most noticeable difference between the Warriors' 2018-19 roster and that of a season ago. The fact of the matter is that the Dubs will be counting on several of their younger players to take the next step in their development in the season ahead, which could be a determining factor in their pursuit of what would be a third consecutive league title.