OK, we're convinced: Stephen Curry is a star. His performance for the Warriors in the 2012-13 season erased most of the doubts that had survived his first three seasons in the NBA. The most important part was that he stayed healthy; that concern, the one about the longevity of his ankles, survives, but at least we now have an example of them putting up with a 3,000-minute season. We know it can happen.
The jumper? No doubts. His dribble-drive ability? No doubts. His passing? No doubts. His scoring intuition? No doubts. He's solidly entrenched in the upper tier of perimeter scorers now at age 25, in that lofty space alongside James Harden and Kyrie Irving.
By any reasonable standard, Curry is a star you build around. So the question is, what does a team built around Curry needs most from its other 12 or so players? Do the Warriors now have that?
Defense is the biggest hole in Curry's game, and lo! The Warriors added the best -- or second-best -- defensive wing available in free agency, Andre Iguodala, despite entering July capped out. (Tony Allen is the other contender for this honor.) The Warriors' front office has done nothing to disarm accusations that it is brilliant; how Golden State unloaded Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson to get the space required for an Iguodala acquisition is a modern miracle. Iguodala solves a lot of defensive problems for the Curry-led Warriors and is especially inviting for small-ball lineups in which Harrison Barnes bumps up to power forward.
Most scoring guards thrive when there is a big man scorer to balance the floor. David Lee is still around. An All-Star last season, Lee averaged 18.5 points on a .519 eFG. Given Lee's relatively high usage (23 percent), that efficiency is valuable and not terribly common. Lee also regained a good bit of his once-masterful rebounding advantage last season after two down years on the boards; a huge chunk of Golden State's defensive improvement last season can be credited to better rebounding. Better rebounding largely came from Lee and rookie Draymond Green. That needs to continue as well.
More defense? There's always Andrew Bogut, who played just under 800 minutes for the Warriors last season. The expectation is that he'll be ready for opening night and will play limited minutes all season long. Bogut was very recently one of the league's best defenders at center, and Golden State could really use that, as neither Curry nor Lee offer much in the way of defense besides Lee's rebounding. Besides Bogut, Iguodala and the role players (Green, Kent Bazemore and the surprisingly still-effective Jermaine O'Neal) should help on that end.
While Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, two solid secondary scorers, parted ways in the offseason, Barnes and Klay Thompson should provide plenty of supporting scoring to Curry and Lee. The team may miss Jack's passing, but rookie guard Nemanja Nedovic will be, if nothing else, interesting to watch in the backcourt. Most likely it will be Iguodala who will be asked to relieve Curry of ball-handling duties frequently, which is an acceptable solution.
When you consider what a Curry-led team needs -- lots of defense, secondary scoring and a playmaking relief -- Golden State has nearly all of it. The changes Golden State made in the offseason clearly point toward bolstering the defense and relying on the team's youth corps to supply the points. How Iguodala meshes directly with Curry will be something to watch, and the sustainability of a Barnes-Lee frontcourt is also a relative mystery that could be important given the likelihood of Bogut staying around 25 minutes per game and the lack of a top-flight reserve power forward in Landry's absence.
Questions will also surround Mark Jackson, especially since his top assistant, Michael Malone, left. There's debate as to how much credit Malone deserves for the Warriors' defensive improvement; rumors suggest it was actually assistant coach Darren Erman who rebuilt the defense last season, and he's still in Oakland. But Iguodala and more Bogut will likely have a bigger impact on the Golden State defense than any coach could, anyway, so that may all be moot.
Whether that's enough help for Curry is what we'll find out in 2013-14.