Dubs Lead

Dubs Set to Chase New Dreams at Chase Center

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The Golden State Warriors open their season Thursday night at their brand new palace in San Francisco. Chase Center looks amazing inside and out. It was supposed to be a palace fit for the kings of the NBA. But we know what happened to end the 2018-19 season. The Dubs lost to the Toronto Raptors in the Finals, Kevin Durant walked in free agency, and Klay Thompson tore his ACL. Klay’s (and Durant’s) availability for this year was severely impacted by the unusually late occurrence of their injuries during the season. So, the Warriors are not the reigning kings anymore, but life is still good around the Bay.

Chase Center

The spotlight on opening day this year will squarely be on the arena. Chase Center is a privately funded, $1.4 billion project. Technically, a lot of the credit goes to Joe Jacob, the majority owner of the Golden State Warriors and Rick Welts, their president. But, I like to call it the arena that Steph Curry built. Take a virtual tour of the arena below if you have a few minutes to spare:

 

Fresh Start

It’s a new beginning in this arena in more ways than one. Dubs are going in there with a re-made roster. While you can’t replace Kevin Durant, the front office pulled off a miracle by getting D’Angelo Russell in that transaction. It was smart thinking in that they added a young All-Star to a capped out team. But, due to the complex salary rules of the NBA, this means they hard-capped themselves. They went from being ready to spend upwards of $300 million to keep KD and Klay to not being able to spend more than $140 million this year.

I am sure that’s a nice little monetary windfall for this team. But everybody knows this ownership group does not care about anything but wining. Now they have DLo, but they had to get rid of Andre Iguodala to fit under the hard cap. They drafted some interesting youngsters and added a bunch of shaky role players. The championship core was gutted by KD leaving, Iguodala’s trade, Klay’s injury, and Shaun Livingston’s retirement. They went from having the World’s best small forward in KD to having the league’s weakest depth chart at that position. With all that said, this still is an exciting reboot with some old faithfuls like Curry and Draymond leading the charge.

Curry’s Kitchen

This new beginning in some ways is a back to the future for one Mr. Stephen Wardell Curry. It is now unquestionably his team and basketball. He shared both with Kevin Durant for three years, though in the eye of the Dub Nation, Curry was always the man. Now he gets to run the kitchen again. He got his trusted buddy Draymond by his side and his other friend Klay will rejoin him at some point. He also has a new partner in crime in D’Angelo and a bunch of kids. It will be an odd, but interesting stew at Chase.

While the Championship dreams have shifted south to La-La land, this team has not conceded anything yet. There is a lot of expectations for Curry at a personal level including some MVP hype. If that comes to fruition, you are already looking at a fun season and a packed Chase center. There are not many athletes who can entertain and fill arenas like Curry. Moreover, with this roster, coach Steve Kerr might be forced to run and gun even more. We may be looking at a lot of high scoring contests at Chase. The question is, will that translate to wins?

Defense and Rebounding

The story of the Championship run the last five years with this Dubs dynasty can be summed up in one phrase – splash brothers. The focus has been on their shooting and the offense. However, this team won big because it dominated at both ends of the floor. This is where this year’s team is going to take a big hit. They lost Klay and Andre, their best wing defenders. KD was versatile and a problem for opposing offenses when he wanted to be. A healthy Livingston always brought his defense. Now they have a bunch of youngsters and questionable defenders in their place. That is going to be the biggest challenge for this team.

If there was one thing obvious from the preseason, it was that they had trouble defending and rebounding. That’s a bad combination. Granted, they played the Lakers almost exclusively in the pre-season and the Dubs’ bigs were all hurt. Also, Lakers are not only a talented team and a title contender, but also big, long, and athletic. I would like to see these teams play with a healthy Kevon Looney and Willie Cauley-Stein in the Warriors’ uniform, but defense and rebounding is still going to be a concern. I expect the team to play great offense and get better defensively as the season progresses. It might be a rough start defensively to start the season.

New Dreams

The projection for this Dubs team is all over the place. Some pick them to win the West, while others say they will miss the playoffs. If you are a Dubs fan, you have to be happy that some respected analysts like John Hollinger have positive predictions for them:

Time will tell what happens, but there is newfound excitement among the fans. To some extent, the championship pressure and the KD free agency took lot of the fun out of last season. Both the players and fans are now happy to have their team back in some sense. It’s Curry’s team again with Dray and Klay completing the big-3. This is the core that started it all and it is rather exciting to see how things look in this new context in a new building. Klay’s injury in a weird way takes a lot of the pressure off of them. It becomes a built-in excuse for everything and anything including missing the playoffs. However, I can assure you that’s not what this team is thinking.

Of course all the excitement will dissipate if they start the season 2-8. I don’t think that will happen even in this brutal West. The locker room at Chase is new, but there is still too much pride, experience, character, and structure in there. There is immense talent too in the form of Curry and Draymond, not to mention D’Angelo. They are now re-born and chasing some new and exciting dreams. I wouldn’t plan a championship parade for them this year, but count them out at your own risk.

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About Aravind Srinivasan

Aravind loves two things- the NBA and writing. He has been a long-time Phoenix Suns fans since the Charles Barkley-Kevin Johnson era of the mid-90’s. He now lives in the Golden State and follows the Warriors closely. An avid sports and NBA blogger since the early days of blogging, he is now a Suns and Dubs writer for TLSM. His favourite Sun is Steve Nash and his favourite Warrior is Steph Curry. Twitter: @15cent

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