Between the 2014-15 and 2018-19 seasons, the Golden State Warriors won a total of 322 regular seasons, setting an NBA record for most wins in a five-year span. The Warriors won three NBA championships and made it to the NBA Finals in the other two years of that run.
Now, just one year after that incredible run, Golden State is coming off an NBA-worst 15-50 season, which is understandable considering the circumstances. The team lost Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and DeMarcus Cousins last offseason, Stephen Curry played just five games due to injury and Klay Thompson didn’t play at all due a torn ACL.
Golden State is hoping to bounce back to title contender status in 2020-21 with Curry and Thompson healthy and Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, a high 2020 draft pick and a host of other role players supporting them.
Will the Warriors be healthy enough and have enough depth to make a run at the NBA Finals just one year after finishing at the bottom of the league?
Will Klay Thompson & Draymond Green Be Their All-Star Selves Next Season?
Unlike the rest of the NBA’s bottom-feeders in 2019-20, the Warriors are in win-now mode. Golden State’s three best players (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green) are 31, 29 and 29 years old. That core has won three championships together since 2015 and they have a lot of collective wear and tear on their bodies from several deep playoff runs.
The Warriors will go into the 2020-21 with their eyes on a championship, but a lot depends on how Thompson and Green perform. Both of them have a lot to prove after what has happened in the past year or so. Thompson hasn’t played since June 2019, when he tore his ACL in Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors. Green had various injuries throughout the 2019-20 season and didn’t look motivated enough to play his high-energy brand of basketball when he was on the floor. That was somewhat excusable, considering that the Warriors were the worst team in the NBA.
If both Thompson and Green are back to playing like All-Stars, Golden State should contend with the top teams in the Western Conference. If one or both of them isn’t ready to reach that level yet, the Warriors could be closer to the middle of the pack.
How Many 2019-2020 Warriors Players Are Good Long-Term Fits?
The Warriors’ injury-riddled 2019-20 season allowed them to give opportunities to a lot of different players looking to find a niche in the NBA. In total, 22 players played for the Warriors this season, and most of them had little to no NBA experience heading into the season.
Of course, playing for the worst team in the NBA is very different from playing for a title contender. The players who got tons of burn for the Warriors in 2019-20 will see their roles change for 2020-21 with Curry, Thompson, Green and Kevon Looney all back on the court playing major roles for the team.
The Warriors have nine other players on their current roster, though, and all of them will be gunning for key roles.
Andrew Wiggins is probably the most likely player to earn a big role, with his averages of 19.4 points and 3.6 assists per game in Golden State last season. However he is prone to poor effort and instincts on defense and he has always worked best as a No. 1 or 2 scoring option. Can he coexist with the Warriors’ big guns? Other players such as Marquese Chriss, Damion Lee, Eric Paschall and Jordan Poole will also have to figure out ways to contribute positively even though they will have the ball in their hands much less often than in 2019-20.
Can the Warriors Find an Immediate Contributor in the Draft?
The draft lottery hasn’t happened, but Golden State’s odds have them guaranteed to pick in the top five in this offseason’s draft. Again, though, the Warriors have a very unique situation compared to the other teams selecting near the top of the 2020 NBA Draft.
Golden State’s priority is to take advantage of its veteran talent while those players are still in their primes. The team is more likely to select an immediate contributor than a raw prospect who has more upside but also more risk. The Warriors can accommodate players at a variety of positions, but the key for them will be finding a player with the maturity, competitive spirit and skill set to fit in as a role player on a contending roster.
Some of the top 10 prospects in the 2020 draft fit those aforementioned characteristics, such as Tyrese Haliburton, Onyeka Okongwu, Devin Vassell and Isaac Okoro. The thing is, all of those guys are slotted closer to No. 10 in most mock drafts, rather than in the top five.
Golden State may be wise to trade down a few spots to grab an immediate contributor rather than swing for a guy like LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards or James Wiseman with more boom-or-bust potential and less immediate role player potential.
Will Chase Center Provide Warriors With Home-Court Advantage of Oracle Arena?
One year ago, the Warriors moved across the bay from Oracle Arena in Oakland to Chase Center in San Francisco for their home games. The Oracle Arena property had been the home of the Warriors for 48 seasons. In recent years, the stadium had been affectionately nicknamed “Roaracle Arena” for the high decibel levels fans would create.
The Warriors’ first season in Chase Center was obviously not a good one in the standings, and the fans at their home games were understandably much more calm as a result. As we move forward, though, it is worth wondering whether Chase Center can provide that same home-court advantage that Oracle Arena brought for so many years. Obviously, Warriors’ fans will be much more excited for this season, but there is also the factor of the franchise reaching a slightly different clientele across the bay and also the players having to readjust to the atmosphere of the arena.
I have no doubt that the team will adjust to the new environment over time. However, in a sport like basketball where home-court advantage has proven to be so important, especially in the playoffs, you have to wonder if Golden State will have the same advantage as they had in the past several years.