#8 The Golden State Warriors

Ahhh the splash brothers, one of the classic League Pass Golden boys (GET IT?) of the last couple years. After a tough loss to the Clippers in round 1 of the playoffs last year, and the long will-they-or-won’t-they Klay for Kevin debate, this team is back and ready to improve on the successes they’ve had over the past several seasons.

While the Warriors almost slipped by their in-state rivals after the Donald Sterling fiasco, this was a series they were doomed to lose as soon as their Aussie big man, Andrew Bogut, went down with a fractured rib. Bogut gives the Warriors a no-nonsense interior presence; someone ready to punch an opponent in the face for shit-talking and a welcome sense of toughness on a team where the average middle schooler looks at Steph Curry and say, “Hey, I could take him.”

And let’s not forget what else. On a team widely regarded for its unholy 3-point shooting, the Warriors are actually quite impressive defensively. Bogut is a rock in the paint and is able to shore up a lot of David Lee’s shortcomings. Andre Iguodala has always been a lock-down defender, ready to take on the other team’s best perimeter player. He may be a little older but still has a few more good seasons as a stopper and facilitator. And Klay Thompson is a SERIOUSLY underrated perimeter defender, and will likely be taking those best player assignments away from Iggy this season.

But the shooting, though! The splash brothers! This team finished in the top 5 in both percentage and makes, despite falling outside of those 5 for 3 pointers attempted (thanks J.R.). This team also features the molten-hot Curry who has repeatedly torched the Knicks and the Garden for gross 51 point outbursts and is one of the few players who can rival Durant for a holy-shit-heatcheck performance. The physical incarnation of 1 make, 2 makes heating up, 3 makes on FIRE. Play him at beer pong at your own risk. You’ll be naked, he’ll be sober, and I told you so.

More seriously, this has a team that has a lot to look forward to. They may be totally capped out, but I believe they chose wisely in keeping Klay over chasing Kevin Love and leaving their youth movement intact. They have a strong bench, led by Harrison Barnes, who may finally take the next step forward this year, and have steadily been improving in the cutthroat West. I say these guys are finally ready to have that home-court advantage come April.

X-Factor= Klay Thompson.

Did anyone watch the FIBA basketball world cup? No? Just me? Look we won that one, easy. But we started pretty much every game flat and struggled until the other team started missing shots and we could score in transition. That and Klay Thompson. Thompson came off the bench to make 3s and incite those runs every game I watched. If he’s any less of a shooter than Curry I haven’t noticed and this guy is on track to be the best 2-way guard in the league.

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