12-44. Yikes. After undergoing one of the most dominant five-year runs in NBA history, the Golden State Warriors find themselves at the bottom of the league, giving loyal Warrior fans flashbacks to the lottery-ridden years of the 2000s and early 2010s.
NBA fans—and players—have taken joy in the Warriors’ anguish. As one Pacific Division player stated earlier this season, “Now that they’ve come back to reality, you want to beat the hell out of them and see Steph with that towel over his head in the fourth [quarter]. ”
But make no mistake, this year isn’t like the other depressing, losing years. Unfortunately for the rest of the NBA, the Warriors will be back contending for a championship next season.
“How so?” you may ask.
For one, Golden State’s championship Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will receive some much-deserved rest.
Curry appeared in just four games this season before breaking his left hand and second metacarpal in November. It has been reported that Steph will make his return in early March. Klay Thompson has missed the entirety of this season after going down with an ACL tear in Game 6 of last year’s finals. He’s expected to miss the rest of the season and be ready for basketball activity by next season’s training camp. Draymond Green is under an unofficial minutes restriction as well. He’s been held to under 30 minutes a night this season for the first time since his second year in the league. His minutes will likely drop more in the coming games as Steve Kerr will look to give minutes to the guys who will likely be a part of next year’s bench.
It’s safe to say that if the Warriors were in playoff contention, there is a possibility that both Klay and Steph may have returned right now, though the organization explicitly denies any indication of this. Nevertheless, Curry and Thompson are receiving a well-deserved rest after seven consecutive playoff runs which included 5 straight trips to the finals. Steph and Klay have proven to be the best backcourt in the league this past decade, and have three rings to show for it.
Many have not held back in the criticism of Draymond Green. Though a lot of this criticism is driven by hatred, it isn’t all that misleading. Offensively, Green has been crudely inefficient as seen in his shooting numbers. His biggest strength, defense, has only been subpar as well. However, the return of the Splash Brothers would certainly eradicate at least some of these issues, as he would be back to playing in the system that he has been accustomed to and would have an increased motivation as well. No team wants to mess with a motivated Draymond Green, and his dominant playoff run last season shows for it.
The new addition of Andrew Wiggins is a big bonus in my eyes as well.
Many considered the Warriors losers in the Wiggins-Russell trade, but I actually believe the opposite, though I truly believe the Warriors could’ve gotten more from Minnesota had they waited until the offseason. Wiggins has been shunned into the “bust” label, which is a byproduct of the exceedingly high expectations that come with being a number one overall pick. Though he isn’t as terrible as the media and the fans have made him out to be, there are still many concerns with his game, with defense and perimeter shooting being the most glaring ones. However, with the player-friendly environment in Golden State, Wiggins is bound to make significant strides of improvement on both ends.
And finally, the lottery pick.
Even with Curry returning in early March, the Warriors’ lottery odds are safe in this lost season. Even with the new lottery system implemented by the NBA last season, the Warriors are projected to have a high lottery pick in this upcoming draft. The 2020 draft is a weak draft class talent-wise, but Golden State has their eyes set on James Wiseman, a 7’1″ Center who is projected to go top-five in this draft. However, Wiseman’s draft stock may drop as he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA earlier this year after an alleged scandal, which could roll in the Warriors’ favor.
Assuming Golden State snags Wiseman, a starting lineup of Curry, Thompson, Wiggins, Green, and Wiseman seems scary on paper.
With this seasons’ studs being added to next season’s depth chart as well, I think it’s safe to say the Warriors will be back in championship discussions next year.