Last year's record? 26-56, missed playoffs.
Projected record, as predicted three months ago in time to publish in Yahoo! Sports' NBA Preview Magazine? 21-61
Why I think that sounds about right?
I don't think it sounds right. It sounds wrong. It is wrong. Golden State will have their struggles this season, and they won't make the playoffs, but they will win more than 21 games.
Why I think I might be terribly, terribly wrong?
Because the prediction was handed in sometime in mid-July, and back in mid-July Don Nelson had a job coaching basketball for the Golden State Warriors. He doesn't, anymore, and this is why the Warriors will win more than 21 games.
They won't double the win total, and I still don't see them as a playoff team, but the substitution of Nelson with anyone that slightly resembles an average NBA coach (and, for all we know, new coach Keith Smart could be a brilliant NBA coach) will result in a serious uptick in wins. The team is coming off one of the more ridiculously injury-plagued seasons in NBA history, the squad has serious scoring talent in Monta Ellis(notes), Stephan Curry, Reggie Williams(notes), and David Lee, and they might actually resemble an orthodox (if still fast-paced) NBA team this year.
Nelson's departure changes everything. Again, I don't see a .500 team here, but nobody should be surprised if the W's hit the mid-30s.
Step up or step off
Who are you, Monta? We know what you can do with the ball in your hands, about the extra gear you have in the open court, about the knack for getting to the rim, about the ability to make opposing coaches hyperventilate and rival fanbases salivate as you heat up, expand, explode and envelop. There's no doubt you can be the best scorer on the court most nights -- heck, maybe even every night.
But what else can you be? Can you be the best player on a legitimately competitive team?
Can you be the guy who sees that the Warriors' best chance for a win on a given night is letting Lee and Steph run two-man? Can you be the guy who not only sees that, but accepts it? Who's willing to let it run until the D finds the answer, then step up to release the pressure and show them that you changed the question? Can you be the guy who uses that ludicrous speed, that preternatural quickness, those fast hands to ruin the other guy's night on the defensive end? Can you be the guy who helps the team get what it needs, whatever it needs, when it needs it?
If you can be ... well, ultimately it might not matter too much, because you guys are still going to have all sorts of trouble stopping people enough to contend for the eighth seed. But in the way that Big Things Matter, it'll resonate. Because you're young enough to make meaningful change, old enough to make that mean something and, potentially, transcendent enough to make teammates believe in it, and in you.
So go ahead. Make us believe that you're more than a mixtape marvel, a League Pass luxury. Make us believe there's some there there.
Five things about the Warriors that furrow Ol' Man Howard's brow
1. You're not gonna pronounce it right, then you don't get a first name, Curry. Hmmm? You tell your daddy you don't get one. Then you tell him he was lousy in the field and never could have made it in the big leagues, no how. YOU TELL HIM THAT.
2. Harvard boy, huh? Bet you think you're real smart, huh? Bet you think you're pretty slick, huh? Let's see you multiply discipline times grit and divide it by the Greatest Generation. What's the remainder, huh, Harvard boy? There is no remainder. Because we're weren't wasteful.
3. You eyeballin' me, Gadzuric? I fought a war with the Cherokee so you could wear black socks. Don't you eyeball me, Gadzuric.
4. You're not up at dawn, Bell, I got no use for you. Not in this economy. Grown folks take their day serious.
5. I guess you never learned how to work a razor, huh, Lee? Wipe that dirt off your chin, son. President could be watchin'.
If it's the Yoga Fire, you can just go over it and jump kick
But if it's the Yoga Flame, you'll be entering a world of pain. Decisions, decisions. It's like my grandfather always told me: "Keith Smart is so dangerous when he's Dhalsim."