Beyond the Toronto Raptors: Powerhouse Pacific Division

Toronto Raptors - Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Golden State Warriors

Key Arrivals: D’Angelo Russell, Willie Cauley-Stein, Glenn Robinson III, Alec Burks

Key Departures: Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Quinn Cook, Shaun Livingston

Talks of the Golden State Warriors’ demise are greatly exaggerated. This is still a team, albeit with a few key pieces short, that can contend for an NBA title.

The Warriors’ five-year championship saga finally caught up to them as they were battered and bruised during last year’s Finals. This year they’ll be losing Klay Thompson to an ACL injury while Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston via free agency, trade, and retirement, respectively.

But the engine that drives this juggernaut, Steph Curry, is still at his prime and poised to have another MVP-caliber season. Draymond Green returned to his peak form in the playoffs and should continue on that note with Thompson injured.

And once again, the Warriors surprised in the free agency by acquiring Russell. The former Net will look to fill the offensive gap left by Thompson while the other signings shore up some much-needed depth.

Offensive outlook

Golden State will still be a top offensive team in the NBA. They didn’t need Durant to lay carnage to the rest of the NBA. Losing Thompson stings and they have little offense beyond their starters, but Russell can be nearly as lethal from long-range and adds a bit more playmaking.

Robinson III is a breakout candidate with the Warriors. He had a forgettable season in Detroit but was lighting it up from deep (41.2%)  before getting injured with the Pacers. Returning to this form will be a boon to the Warriors who need all the scoring they can get on the second unit.

The Warriors will need to stay healthy and someone from the likes of Alfonzo McKinnie and Kevon Looney to step up and provide some offense they haven’t shown yet.

Defensive outlook

Most casuals will see Golden State as the high-powered offensive wrecking machine they are, but the more educated fan sees them as a defensive powerhouse.

Losing Durant and Iguodala, and Thompson for most of the season will hurt their defense more than their offense, but the team still does have some guys who can defend.

McKinnie still smells cooked from the NBA Finals, but he’s 6’8″ and is versatile enough to potentially defend all positions. And of course, former Defensive Player of the Year Green will be anchoring the defense.

Projected outlook: 48-34

Projecting where Golden State finishes in the ever-shifting landscape in the West is a challenge. They are just an injury or two away from completely dropping out of playoff contention, but are also still good enough to make a deep playoff run.

Maybe it’s a little bit of both. They struggle in the earlier parts of the season barely sitting above .500 then go on a surge after the All-Star break when Thompson returns. They don’t just sneak into the playoffs, they kick the doors down with guns loaded ready to pull an “upset” as a low seed.