Why Golden State is dominant
Offense: Last season, the Warriors led the NBA in almost every major offensive category. Now, with DeMarcus Cousins in the fold — albeit a couple of months into the season — they have a chance to be one of the most potent offenses in league history. In the preseason, Golden State looked sharp, spreading the floor, making the extra pass and finding open shots with ease. The important thing for the Warriors will be maintaining their movement-heavy blueprint once Cousins comes back from the torn left Achilles tendon he sustained in January with the Pelicans. With the luxury of four other All-Stars, Cousins can play to his strengths and take easier shots than he is accustomed to seeing.
Defense: Perhaps the best news for Golden State’s defense is that Draymond Green — the 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year — isn’t over being relegated to the All-Defensive second team last spring. After he was uncharacteristically inconsistent and failed to provide game-saving stops last season, Green enters 2018-19 fueled by the desire to reclaim his DPOY award. That should only help a defense that, after ranking among the league’s top five for four straight seasons, slumped to 11th last season. The Warriors know their switch-heavy system works. They just need to do a better job executing it.
Starters: In July, when the Warriors signed Cousins to a one-year, $5.3 million contract, they sent shock waves through the league. Fresh off back-to-back NBA titles, Golden State is the first team to have five players who were All-Stars in the previous season since the 1975-76 Celtics. The biggest question is how the Warriors will integrate Cousins, a go-to option in Sacramento and New Orleans, into their system. Until Cousins returns, Golden State will lean on Damian Jones, Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell at center. It’s looking increasingly likely that Cousins will be back by Christmas.