Golden State Warriors Team Previewby Jackson Caudell September 30, 2021 0 comments
Last season for the Golden State Warriors felt doomed from the minute Klay Thompson tore his Achilles and was out for the season. This was a team that was counting on Thompson to come back from the knee injury he suffered in the 2019 NBA Finals and make them contenders in the Western Conference. That did not happen, but it is fair to say that the Warriors exceeded expectations in some ways last season.
The Warriors went 39-33 last season and made the NBA’s play-in tournament by winning their final six games of the regular season. Superstar Stephen Curry had one of his best seasons yet and finished as an MVP finalist and the scoring champ. The Warriors lost in their first play-in game to the Los Angeles Lakers and then were officially eliminated by the Memphis Grizzlies.
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At the beginning of the offseason, the Warriors were connected to about every rumor possible in the trade market. Whether it was Ben Simmons, Bradley Beal, or Damian Lillard, it once seemed inevitable that the Warriors were going to make a move for a third star. That move did not happen, but the Warriors did some things to make themselves a deeper team this offseason.
The Warriors had two lottery picks in the 2021 NBA Draft and used the picks on talented players Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody. Kuminga was getting top five buzz at one point in the offseason and the Warriors thought enough of him to take him seventh. With the last pick in the lottery, the Warriors selected Moody, a guard from Arkansas. It is unclear what kind of impact these two could have right away, but they are both talented players.
In terms of free-agent signings, the Warriors signed Nemanja Bjelica and Otto Porter Jr. Both guys are coming in at a discount and hope to provide depth. The only losses the Warriors had were Kent Bazemore and Kelly Oubre Jr.
The Starting Five
PG- Stephen Curry
SG- Klay Thompson
C- Kevon Looney
This is a lineup that will be familiar to NBA fans. However, there are a couple of questions that are going to need to be answered. It is unclear when Thompson is going to be back and when he will be fully healthy. Looney should start at center, but when 2020 second overall James Wiseman returns from injury, will he replace him? The Warrior’s defense was better when Wiseman was not on the floor and it will be interesting how they incorporate him back with the lineup.
Another interesting point could be Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins is not eligible to play in any Warriors home games or any games in New York until he is vaccinated. It would be a big loss for Golden State if it lost Wiggins for over half of their games if this does not get resolved. It also would not be surprising if you saw the Warriors mix and match with different lineups with Green at center if they felt that Looney was becoming a liability.
The Warriors bench is going to be headlined by two of their main bench contributors from last season in Jordan Poole and Juan Toscano-Anderson. Both guys stepped up in big ways last season and they should be the first two guys off the bench in every Warriors game.
Porter Jr and Bjelica are going to be important guys for the Warriors bench as well. Porter Jr has struggled with injuries, but he is a reliable three-point shooter and an above-average defender as well. It is going to be interesting to see how the Warriors handle Wiseman’s playing time considering he is coming back from injury and had issues on defense.
The Warriors are going to welcome back Andre Iguodala to the team after missing his presence in the locker the last couple of seasons. Iguodala can still contribute despite his age and he will bring a spark on some nights for the team. Mychal Mulder, who played a role last season, provides good depth for the bench.
One Potential Move to Make
As mentioned previously, the Warriors had been looking around to add a third star to the team and maximize the window to win a championship for Curry and Thompson. The name that the team has been linked to the most has been Ben Simmons, the disgruntled star in Philadelphia. There have not been serious talks between the teams, but it is an intriguing spot for Simmons to go to.
The Warriors are seemingly trying to balance trying to be competitive for a championship while trying to have young pieces for their team whenever Curry and Thompson are finished. Simmons would be the best of both worlds for the Warriors. For all of his offensive struggles, Simmons is the best on-ball defender in the NBA and an excellent transition player. He would be a younger and better version of Green.
For the Warriors to pull this off, Wiggins and Green would almost certainly have to be included in any deal. It is probably safe to say that Philadelphia is going to want players to win now and also have a couple of assets, whether that be young players or future first-round picks. This deal may not happen, but it is the most logical move that could actually happen for Golden State.
This is going to be an interesting season for the Warriors. The Western Conference is pretty open and while the Lakers might be the favorites, it is not a stretch to think the Warriors can win the West. A lot of this is going to fall on the health of Thompson. Depending on how long Thompson takes to return to form will make the difference on where the Warriors will go in the preseason.
If Thompson can return to the player he was pre-injury or at least something close to it, this is a championship contender. Curry is still an elite-level player. Green could be a challenger for defensive player of the year. Their bench is deeper with the additions of Porter Jr and Bjelica and there is expected growth from guys like Poole and Toscano-Anderson.
The clock is ticking on the trio of Curry, Thompson, and Green to win their fourth championship. The West is open and could be there for the taking for Golden State. It is truly championship or bust for the Golden State Warriors.
Season Prediction: 50-32, 2nd in the Pacific Division
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