Well we’re about 10% of the way through the NBA season and around the same for the NHL. Let’s take a big ole sniff of how both teams have fared so far:
Okay, not so bad on both accounts. Let’s take a look first at the Warriors:
The Warriors’ 2 losses have been against the Spurs and Lakers, both of which are retooled with the Lakers now playing under Luke Walton and the Tim Duncan-less Spurs still very much a threat in the Western Conference. NOT TO MAKE EXCUSES FOR MY BANDWAGON TEAM BUT, with a team missing their bench presence at the cost of getting KD, these growing pains are bound to happen. If anything, early season losses against divisional/conference foes are welcomed as Steve Kerr is easily going to back as the season progresses to pinpoint where they need improvement against said neighborly foes.
My concern for the team is not that they’re going to turn into the 2012-2013 Lakers, but rather that the bench for the Dubs is not going to be even a shadow of the threat they were last year. More than a handful of games were saved by the play of the 2nd unit and with Speights/Ezili/Barnes/Barbosa/Bogut all no longer there, there needs to be a maturation process here early because they’re simply isn’t the production here now:
2015-2016 Curry/Green/Thompson/Barnes PPG per 48 minutes combined = 77.9
2015-2016 Rest of Team PPG per 48 minutes combined = 56.2
2016-2017 Curry/Green/Thompson/Durant PPG per 48 minutes combined = 82.7
2016-2017 Rest of Team PPG per 48 minutes combined = 37.1 (stats via Real GM)
It may be early, but we can already see that the stars on the Warriors are doing it more themselves this year and the bench this year just isn’t picking up the slack. Are there new additions besides Durant to the team? Absolutely. Are some of these guys D-leaguers now getting more time. No doubt. It’s not time to panic now, as it’s still very, very early in the season, but if the bench stats don’t start to improve, I wouldn’t guarantee that this team this year is an automatic WC finalist.
Now onto the Sharks
While sporting an 9-6 record, the Sharks and Petey DeBoer have a lot of good reasons to be enthusiastic about year most notably that their main guys are scoring, which wasn’t always the case last year. We’ve seen Burns, Pavelski and even Vlasic bailing the team out in the 3rd period, which is a drastic change of pace from last year which was a team that mostly gave away leads in the 3rd period as opposed to grabbing them.
Most important (aside from everyone being back and healthy) is that they’ve already played 8 games on the road going 4-4 and are 3-0 currently into a 6 game road trip. After this trip, they play 14 of their next 21 games at home, with a nice 5 game stretch during the Thanksgiving week at home. I would look for the Sharks to start to find their resilient mojo during this nice little stretch at home while spending time with their family. A lot of these guys in addition to playing in the SCF played in the WCH so I would think for the guys like Burns/Marleau/Pavelski who have their families here, this is going to be a nice recuperation period for them.
The main take away? R-e-l-a-x on the Sharks. The Ducks are foul, the Kings are dead with Quick out and the Oilers, while good, are going to come back to earth at some point this season. Tell me, does this look like the leadership of a team worried about getting back to the Cup?
And the Warriors? Yeah I’d say they’re just fine right now too:
I think we’re good on both fronts.