Golden State Warriors 2020-21 Season Previewby MJ Hurley December 17, 2020 0 comments
Coming into the 2020-21 NBA season, ESPN’s official power rankings listed the Golden State Warriors as the 13th best team in the NBA. Whether or not Steph Curry and the new-look Warriors saw the rankings, their energy and performance in training camp indicate that they will perform better than 13th.
Can the Rookie Step in?
With the second pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Warriors selected James Wiseman, C, out of Memphis. On the night of the draft, All-Star guard Klay Thompson tore his Achilles and was ruled out for the entire 2020-21 season. Wiseman only played a few games his freshman year before receiving a suspension from the NCAA. Instead of serving the suspension, Wiseman opted to prepare for the draft.
Wiseman is listed at 7-foot-1 and 247 pounds. Given the Warriors’ lack of a dominating force in the paint since their emergence in 2013, Wiseman is a welcome sight to Head Coach Steve Kerr and the Warriors coaching staff. Wiseman was out of practice until the last few days due to a positive coronavirus test coming into camp. The rookie has still made quite the impression on everyone in the organization.
“He covers a LOT of ground. He ran the floor great, came up with some offensive rebounds,” said Draymond Green.
“Several great screens in practice today, he seems to be a very natural screen setter,” said Kerr.
“He has an extremely high ceiling. Excited for him to get some reps and be in a game-like situation. His energy in practice was crazy. It was like letting a puppy out of the cage,” said Curry.
How the Pieces Fit
With Green and Wiseman back, the energy within the Warriors practice facility has clearly increased. Kerr spoke multiple times about how good Green looks, and Draymond clearly cut weight during the offseason. Given the role Wiseman and returning center Marquese Chriss will play, Green may get more minutes in the true power forward role this season.
But what about Steph Curry? Amazing question. Curry is not only playing at the same elite level before his injury-riddled 2019-20 season, but he is having fun again. Curry dropped 29 points on 5-of-13 from three-point range in their second preseason game. There were smiles all around when Kerr pulled Curry after his 28th minute.
Most importantly for the new-look Warriors will be fairly new additions Kelly Oubre Jr. and Andrew Wiggins who will play the wing and two-guard respectively for Golden State. Oubre Jr. is no stranger to scoring and playing with high energy. His 18.7 points per game average from last season will be an important piece of replacing the offensive gap left from the loss of Thompson.
In 12 games for the Warriors last year, Wiggins averaged 19.4 points per game on 45 percent shooting from the field. These numbers were in the absence of Curry and mostly in the absence of Green as well. Although Wiggins may end up being the fifth offensive option out of the starting lineup, his growth will be paramount to the success of Kerr’s offensive system in Golden State.
Off the bench, Golden State will look to Eric Paschall and Chriss to build off of their 2019-20 seasons. Both players benefited from increased playing time, but a successful bench unit will rely on their production as the main big men behind Green and Wiseman. Additionally, returning guards Damion Lee and Jordan Poole are joined by Brad Wanamaker, Kent Bazemore, and rookie Nico Mannion. With a crowded backup backcourt, Kerr will have plenty of fluid decisions to make as the season begins.
With one more preseason game against the Kings on December 17, Curry and the Warriors have one more chance to cement their chemistry and team identity before Golden State opens the 2020-21 season against Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets on December 22. Durant’s first game back from his torn Achilles suffered in the 2019 NBA Finals, will be against the team he won multiple championships and a Finals MVP with. Durant and Kyrie Irving will be a quick test of the Warriors’ regular-season firepower, but with a full schedule ahead of Golden State, their season opener will not define them in any way.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images