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Golden State Warriors 2015-16 Preview

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Can the small ball Warriors repeat?

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

2014-15 IN REVIEW
67-15
1st in Pacific Division
1st in Western Conference
Won NBA Finals vs. Cleveland (4-2)
NBA Finals MVP - Andre Iguodala

SUMMER OF 2015

Key Additions - Jason Thompson, Kevon Looney
Key Losses - David Lee

As the new TV deal has drastically changed everything we know about NBA finances, 2015 free agents have been cashing in like crazy and Draymond Green was one of the biggest beneficiaries. Coming off of a breakout year in 2014-15 where Green put up 11.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.3 blocks per game while earning a spot on the NBA's All-Defensive 1st Team, Green inked an ultra-lucritive five-year contract extension worth as much as $85 million.

Yikes.

Golden State made some changes to their frontcourt, sending two-time All-Star David Lee to Boston in exchange for Gerald Wallace and Chris Babb. Wallace has since been moved and Babb will have to fight in training camp for his spot on the 15-man roster, but the Warriors ended up finding a very serviceable replacement for Lee on the depth chart.

Wallace was flipped to Philadelphia in a deal that sent Jason Thompson to Golden State, providing Steve Kerr's bench with a serviceable 6'11" veteran that acts as a reliable pick n' roll/pop target and provides a healthy level of activity under the rim. With Andrew Bogut, Draymond Green, Marreese Speights and Festus Ezeli on hand, it's doubtful that Thompson will play as much as he did in Sacramento over the last seven years. However, when his name is called upon, he will be able to give them a lift and produce off the bench.

On a darker note, head coach Steve Kerr may or may not need some time away from the club as he recovers from back surgery. His timetable to return to the sidelines is unknown at this time, but there is some level of optimism that he could be back early enough to start the season.

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
C
- Andrew Bogut / Festus Ezeli / Jason Thompson
PF - Draymond Green / Marreese Speights / James Michael McAdoo / Kevon Looney
SF - Harrison Barnes / Andre Iguodala / Brandon Rush
SG - Klay Thompson / Leandro Barbosa / Ben Gordon
PG - Stephen Curry / Shaun Livingston

X-FACTOR - Andrew Bogut
It's no secret that the Warriors took off last year after they decided to run a more spread out offense and dictate the tempo of the game with smaller lineups. With that said, this team is not going to be able to repeat without a healthy Andrew Bogut anchoring the defense and controlling the paint.

Bogut was healthy for 67 games in each of the last two seasons, after appearing in just 44 accumulated games in the two years prior. His first three years in the league from 2005-2008 was the only stretch of time in his career that he has suited up or 60 or more games in three consecutive seasons.

Steph Curry is the leader of the team, Klay Thompson is a budding All-Star and both Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green are important two-way pieces to this team, but if Bogut isn't healthy, Golden State is going to have a difficult time mirroring last year's success.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2015-16
There is no reason to believe that the defending champions will not be back in the mix for another deep postseason run. As Doc Rivers always liked to say, "they are the champs until somebody beats them." Outside of David Lee, the band is back together and you can fully expect the Warriors to come back strong in 2016.

Golden State will certainly find a bigger target on their back this time around, as any defending champ would, but they aren't going anywhere.

PROJECTED STANDINGS
1st in Pacific Division
1st in Western Conference

Additional Warriors Previews:

Golden State Warriors 2015-16 NBA season preview - Golden State Of Mind

I don't think there's any question about what the Warriors' number one strength is: 2015 NBA MVP Stephen Curry is the foundation of everything that made the Warriors' offensive philosophy and small ball strategy work so well last year.

The Warriors are going to learn how hard it is to repeat - SBNation.com

What can the Warriors do for an encore? They had the best player and the best team by a wide, vast margin. In my mind, they also had the best coach, the best defensive player and maybe the best Sixth Man too. The front office pushed all the right buttons, and even when things didn't work out the way they envisioned -- David Lee getting hurt -- they turned out perfectly. What a remarkable year they had. Can they do it again?