The Golden State Warriors are back.
After two years outside of the playoffs, the sleeping giant is
about to wake up. And watch out, because this team in the Bay has
scary potential, even though their three stars (Stephen Curry, Klay
Thompson and Draymond Green) are all on the wrong side of 30 at
this point. After signing Curry to a four-year, $215 extension this
offseason, the Warriors' championship window remains wide open.
Let's not forget how potent the Warriors are at full strength.
They made five-straight NBA Finals appearances from 2015-2019,
resulting in three championships. Golden State's spaced-out offense
changed the NBA forever, as teams tried their best to copy them
following their historic success. However, no team has come close
to the Warriors’ greatness.
Unfortunately, basketball fans have been robbed of Golden
State’s continued run of excellence with Klay Thompson missing the
last two seasons in their entirety due to an ACL tear suffered in
the 2019 Finals, then a torn Achilles in November of 2020. Two
years of Thompson’s prime were taken away, but with his return now
imminent, his two-way brilliance will give the Warriors a
much-needed boost as they attempt to return to the Western
Conference’s upper echelon.
Golden State will once again be led by the "Splash Brothers"
and, assuming Thompson returns to form, the Warriors should have
one of the best backcourts in the league. Last season, Curry
averaged a career-high 32.0 points as the Warriors failed to reach
the playoffs for a second-straight season largely due to Thompson
missing time. Now, Curry’s three-level scoring dominance should
continue and defenses won't be able to zero in on him quite as
easily. Last season, Curry attempted a career-high 21.7 field goals
and 12.7 three-pointers per game since he didn't have much help
Golden State is trying to walk a tightrope between going all-in
on pursuing a championship (potentially for the last time) and
setting themselves up for future success with the high picks
they've had at their disposal recently. The trio of Curry, Thompson
and Green isn’t going anywhere, but the arrival of four first-round
prospects adds even more intrigue entering the 2021-22 season.
James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and Jordan Poole
will all play a crucial role for the Warriors down the road, but
also in the immediate future if they want to make a deep playoff
run. Playing in the Warriors’ system and learning from the veterans
should only help their long-term development.
Poole is the most experienced of the quartet, and he has already
made a huge leap developmentally. In only 19.4 minutes per game
last season, Poole averaged 12.0 points on a 58.1 True Shooting
percentage. Extrapolate those numbers on a per-36-minute basis
(22.3 points) and the former 28th-overall pick already looks the
part of a microwave scorer who's capable of creating buckets with
Wiseman had an up-and-down rookie season after being selected
No. 2 overall in the 2020 NBA Draft. Wiseman began to create
synergy with Curry as head coach Steve Kerr opened up the playbook
to run more simple pick-and-roll concepts. However, Wiseman
suffered a torn meniscus in the middle of Golden State’s playoff
With two lottery picks in this year’s draft (No. 7 and No. 14
overall), Golden State added two extremely high-upside prospects
into their system: Kuminga and Moody. After forgoing college for
the G League Ignite route, Kuminga flashes tantalizing two-way
potential as a modern wing who can create for himself while holding
his own on the other end. In NBA Summer League action, Kuminga is
showing why he was talked about as a potential No. 1 overall pick
entering the 2020-21 campaign, averaging 17.3 points, 5.7 rebounds,
1.7 steals and 1.3 threes.
Meanwhile, Moody’s 7-foot-1 wingspan (at just under 6-foot-5)
and sharpshooting equity will allow him to immediately step into a
15-20-minute-per-game role in Golden State’s rotation.
With an interesting blend of young prospects and battled-tested
veterans, where do the Warriors stack up in the loaded Western
Conference? Assessing their current rotation, it’s going to be
interesting how Coach Kerr distributes the minutes.
Starters: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins,
Draymond Green, James Wiseman
Bench: Jordan Poole, Moses Moody, Damion Lee, Jonathan
Kuminga, Otto Porter Jr., Andre Iguodala, Nemanja Bjelica, Kevon
With 13 players potentially deserving of minutes on opening
night, it’s going to be a true juggling act for Kerr early on.
Should he sit some of these veterans who have contributed over the
last few years or move slowly with rookies like Kuminga and
Golden State’s roster didn’t lose much at all. Honestly, they
improved all-around even when adding two rookies to the equation.
Porter Jr. and Iguodala are instant contributors off their bench.
Kelly Oubre Jr. didn’t fit the Warriors’ system, but these two
wings certainly do. Porter Jr. can provide excellent spacing as a
three-point marksman, while Iguodala’s previous experience in
Golden State will matter in playoff situations. Also, having
Iguodala as a mentor for Kuminga and Moody is excellent.
It’s fair to peg the Warriors into the Western Conference's top
tier. The Los Angeles Lakers brought in Russell Westbrook and
plenty of floor-spacers to make his transition easier. The Phoenix
Suns aren't going anywhere, running it back with their core while
acquiring win-now role players for their second unit in Landry
Shamet and JaVale McGee. The Utah Jazz will also continue to be a
powerhouse, not losing any key pieces while adding Rudy Gay and
second-round pick Jared Butler as scoring punches off their bench.
Health-permitting, Golden State belongs alongside those three
Once you get past the Lakers, Suns, Jazz and Warriors, there
could be a drop-off in terms of staying power atop the conference.
Don’t rule out another leap from Luka Doncic, but do the Dallas
Mavericks have enough around him to contend? Injuries to Kawhi
Leonard and Jamal Murray have dampened expectations early on for
the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets.
As we’ve learned throughout the Warriors’ dominant run, you can
never count out Curry. With him leading the way once again, now
finally flanked by a healthy Thompson, Golden State’s strong
rotation should allow them to stay within striking distance among
the Western Conference’s elite. If all goes well for the Warriors,
returning to the NBA Finals for the sixth time in eight seasons is
In the meantime, keep an eye on how exactly these pieces all fit
together. With Andrew Wiggins’ bloated contract still on their
books, plus intriguing young assets, Golden State could attempt to
add another star. Imagine how scary the Warriors would be if they
added a Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard or Pascal Siakam to their
Golden State has all the firepower to make another run in
2021-22. The question is: Will they return to juggernaut status or
be stuck in the middle of the pack?