When last seen, the Warriors were … bringing up the rear in the West, a position that was completely at odds with the rest of the decade in the Bay Area. Such was the stark reality for a team that lost Kevin Durant in free agency, Klay Thompson to knee surgery and Steph Curry for all but five games to a broken left hand. They forced a philosophical shift toward grooming players for the future to see which ones would compliment the core of Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green when everyone healed. That resulted in a string of difficult nights for a franchise that shuffled mostly young and untested players and absorbed defeats on a constant basis. The “lost” year was beneficial with regard to the draft lottery, however, where the Warriors secured the No. 2 pick, so it wasn’t a total loss.
What’s new? The Warriors never emphasized the center position during their dynasty, mainly because they never had one good enough to command a large role, certainly not on a team with Curry and Thompson. Yet on draft night, they took James Wiseman, by far the best big man prospect. He’s not a center who’s considered a franchise-changer, though. Wiseman’s college career at Memphis was cut short to a few weeks because of NCAA issues and yet his size and potential was highly regarded anyway. Hours before drafting Wiseman, the Warriors suffered a major setback when Thompson tore his Achilles during workouts. Golden State swung a deal to get Kelly Oubre with hopes he can reduce the absence of Thompson, who’s done for the year.
What’s missing: Aside from Thompson? Well, nothing is on that level of importance. Thompson worked hard to recover from 2019 knee surgery which cost him all of last season, only to be dealt another major blow. The Warriors must tweak their approach, then, and find other sources of shooting and defense that was lost when Thompson pulled up lame. The hope is Oubre and newcomer Kent Bazemore can enhance the team’s perimeter defense and help Curry out in that regard; Thompson usually guarded the other team’s leading scorer.
POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE
Stephen Curry | 20.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 6.6 apg
Ready to battle back after essentially missing a season and reclaim MVP-level status.
Andrew Wiggins | 19.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.6 apg
Enigmatic yet talented player looks to fit in and redo his sketchy reputation.
Draymond Green | 8.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 6.2 apg
A veteran who impacts both ends of the floor will need to improve his shooting this year.
James Wiseman | 19.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 3.0 blk
Rookie big man will be thrown to the fire early and asked to produce for a winner.
Kelly Oubre | 18.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.5 ast
Young swingman looks to replace the point production and presence of Thompson; good luck.
Eric Paschall | 14.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.1 apg
Physical forward took advantage of the ravaged Warriors to earn a longer look.
Marquese Chriss | 9.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.9 apg
A forgotten lottery pick is fighting to secure minutes and recover his career.
Kent Bazemore | 8.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.3 apg
Well-traveled forward brings a 3-point presence and defense to his former team.
Golden State Warriors, last 5 seasons
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions
The Warriors were thrown for a loop with Thompson’s injury and now are caught in bit of a bind. They still have the mentality of a title contender because of Curry and Green, yet are also in transition with the rookie Wiseman and, to an extent, Oubre, who’ll be asked to provide production for a winner. Can that transition be smooth and quick? Curry is too good for this to quality as a bridge year until Thompson returns, which means the Warriors will prosper, but maybe not to the level or extent they’re used to.
Predicted finish: 45-27.
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