NBA Season Preview: Golden State Warriors

2019-20 Regular Season Record: 15-50 (.231%), 15th in Western Conference, Missed Playoffs
Head Coach: Steve Kerr

After a 7-year run of excellence which included three straight 67+ win seasons, five Western Conference Championships and three NBA Championships, the Golden State Warriors came crashing down to earth last year. Already dealing with the absence of Kevin Durant (signed as a free agent with Brooklyn) and Klay Thompson (recovering from a torn ACL), the Warriors simply couldn’t handle the loss of Steph Curry to a broken hand in the season’s 4th game. With Draymond Green having a predictably down year, the Warriors never stood a chance and were playing for the lottery straight away. Shades of the 1996-97 San Antonio Spurs come to mind – a franchise player (David Robinson) misses most of the year and the team gets lucky with a high lottery pick and lands a generational talent (Tim Duncan) and go on to have a two-decade run of success. Don't forget the Warriors made a mid-season trade, sending D'Angelo Russell to Minnesota in exchange for former number 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins
With last year's season thrown away so quickly, let's move on to how the Warriors are going to attack the upcoming season. 

How Will James Wiseman Impact the Warriors?

Picking James Wiseman at the number 2 spot was a smart move for the Warriors. Not only do they get an uber-talented big man (7’1”, 245 lbs.) that could be a franchise center in the future, they get a player that can help them hunt down a playoff spot this year. Most lottery picks go to teams that have missed the playoffs multiple years in a row and are often in shambles (see: NYK), but this is obviously not the case with Golden State. Wiseman will benefit tremendously from the Warriors championship pedigree, All-Star teammates and excellent head coach. Regardless of how he plays in his first season, the Warriors know they have time to develop Wiseman. When Klay Thompson returns for the 2021-22 season, he will be able to rejoin Curry and Green to form the 3-headed monster that ruled the NBA. If Wiseman develops rapidly, that will be a scary proposition for the rest of the league. For Wiseman’s first year, the Warriors will be looking for him to be a beast on the boards, provide rim-protection and chip in on offense with lob finishes and good screens for Curry to run off. It’s entirely possible that Golden State won’t have to run an offensive play all year for Wiseman and he could still average over 10 ppg through hustle and IQ. Look for the 2nd overall pick to average a double double right out of the gates and be a defensive stalwart for the Warriors, with bigger things to come in his future. 

Tom's Take: James Wiseman will win Rookie of the Year with averages of 13 ppg, 10 rpg & 2 bpg while shooting better than 55% from the field. 

Your Reminder that Steph Curry is Really Good

Here’s your daily reminder that Steph Curry is one of the premier players in the league and a future hall of famer. The Warriors franchise player only played in 5 games last year, and will be seeking revenge on the league, looking to lead the Warriors back to the playoffs after last year’s injury-forced aberration. With Klay Thompson out for another year there will be more shots available for Steph to jack up – look for him to average close to 30 ppg and be the Warriors primary playmaker. He should work well in tandem with James Wiseman in the pick-and-roll and will look to involve the big fella at the rim finishing off lobs. Steph will be responsible for getting Andrew Wiggins involved in the offense and ensure that he gets the ball in transition and in spots that he likes in the half-court set. A lot is resting on Curry’s shoulders heading into this season.

Who is Going to Fill the Klay Thompson Void?

With Thompson set to return after a full year off, the Warriors were thought to be right back in the title hunt for 2020-21. Of course the news that broke on the morning of the draft burst not only the Warriors bubble, but all of the NBA. How will the Dubs fill the void? First up to the plate will be Wiggins, who brings a career scoring average of 19.7 ppg on 44.1% shooting – not exactly the sharpshooter that Thompson is. However, Wiggins will be playing with the most well-rounded team he’s been on in the NBA and will have guidance and leadership from Steph, Draymond, Klay and the Warriors excellent coaching staff led by Steve Kerr. The pressure of being the number 1 overall pick won’t be hanging over his head either, like it was in Minnesota. Kelly Oubre Jr. will also look to contribute, coming off a career year averaging 18.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.5 apg & 1.3 spg in 34.5 minutes per game. Oubre Jr. has been welcomed with open arms by the Warriors leadership group, and is enjoying his introduction to the Warriors culture. If he can bring high-energy and high-intensity to their lineup every night, there’s a possibility that between he and Wiggins, they can help soften the blow from Klay’s departure. 

Photo Credit: Ringo Chiu/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire