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Warriors helped NBA become more of a skill game, but now are in need of size

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While it wasn’t on par with Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark (google it), the Warriors opener Tuesday was messy at best. At worst, it was a shock to the system for Dubs fans who thought the newest super team would hit the ground running and hit their opponents with a barrage of shots. While that style of play will be their calling card, game one of 82 was not a good look.

To start, the Warriors shot horribly from three. As we saw in the Finals last year, if they’re off from behind the money line, it’s hard for them to beat a good team. I’ll go out on a metaphorical limb and say that the best shooting team in league history will not shoot 21 percent for the rest of the season. Credit San Antonio’s defense and blame a Warriors offense in the process of attempting to integrate new players for the lack of three point-prowess.

And remember this — there aren’t too many teams equipped to play the defense like the Spurs and common basketball sense almost dictates that this team will get their offensive issues (whatever they may be) fixed sooner rather than later. That explains the 100 point part of equation. The 129 points allowed, the 50 points in the paint, the 21 Spurs offensive rebounds and the 26 second chance points that go along with them? Well, that’s a different story.

What struck me when I got my first look at the Warriors (sue me for not watching pre-season games that don’t count) was how small they are. While the league has changed from a size game to a skill game, a change that the Warriors are at the forefront of, having bigs who can provide defense and rebounding will always be a valued commodity, no matter how the game is changing. Golden State will always be able to shoot, the offense will get better as the year goes on, the turnovers will be a part of the process and the bench will come along. But here’s the problem: they’re never getting taller. Think about this, Kevin Durant is the tallest player in the regular rotation.

Size in the NBA is like money: you’d rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. Over the last two years, because of their explosive offense and their vaunted Death Lineup, the Warriors could play and thrive without relying heavily on Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli and Mo Speights. When those three now departed players were needed, they came up big more often than not, especially Bogut.

Of course, I don’t believe that the Warriors have a fatal flaw because of a seeming lack of size. But I do believe this: their play in other areas has to be a lot better when facing teams like the Spurs and their brethren. The good news is that there aren’t too many teams like the Spurs out there and, oh yeah, the Dubs are the most talented team in the league.

And also work in progress.

 

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