This NBA season has been an extremely interesting one thus far. The title race is very competitive and very open for the first time in what feels like ages. Many teams view this year as their opportunity to win a championship, so many teams are looking to make the step this year.
Teams such as the Los Angeles Clippers (Marcus Morris), Houston Rockets (Robert Covington) and Miami Heat (Andre Iguodala) were buyers during the trade deadline in an attempt to beef up their rosters for deep playoff runs. Other teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics will be looking to make splashes in the buyout market to patch potential holes in their rosters. Many teams around the league are going all in to win a title this season.
There is a very obvious answer to why the title race this year seems so open. The Golden State Warriors, who have mercilessly been kicking everyone’s butts for the past several years, have fallen off. Golden State is currently 12-43, good enough for the last place in the Western Conference. After five straight finals appearances and three championships, the dynasty has finally ended.
Except maybe it hasn’t.
The golden state in Golden State has collapsed, but not for long. The Warriors will return to being one of the elite franchises in the NBA as soon as next year and will be right back in the title conversation.
This year is a one-off occasion. The grind of playing until late June in five straight seasons has finally caught up with Golden State and its superstars. Golden State’s coveted “Splash Bros” have both been dealing with injuries all year. Steph Curry broke his hand only four games into the season against Phoenix and has been sidelined since. Klay Thompson will be out until next season after tearing his ACL during game six of last year’s finals against Toronto.
Other players on the roster such as Willie Cauley-Stein (traded to Dallas) and Kevon Looney have dealt with injuries as well. This has forced Steve Kerr to roll out some pretty inexperienced and underwhelming lineups this season, which is a major reason for the state of their record.
Next year, Golden State will be healthy and have their backcourt duo back in the rotation. This will bring them from the worst team in the association to right back into the upper echelon of the Western Conference and NBA.
2020 Draft Pick
Due to their current record and placement in the NBA standings, the Warriors will be in the NBA lottery for the 2020 draft. They are currently projected to get the number one pick in next year’s draft. This will give Golden State the opportunity to add a young stud to their already established team and culture. Players such as James Wiseman, Anthony Edwards, and LaMelo Ball could be extremely valuable additions to Golden State and the longevity of their success.
Hitting on this pick is absolutely crucial for the Warriors. If they are able to make the right pick and bring in someone who can contribute and thrive in their system, then their dynasty will not only return but could extend for many years to come.
(Example: The San Antonio Spurs finished the 1996-96 season 59-23 and made it to the second round of that year’s playoffs. David Robinson got injured, like Steph and Klay, and the Spurs finished an abysmal 20-62 the following season. This one bad year while Robinson rehabbed his injury gave San Antonio the number one pick in the 1997 draft, thus granting them Tim Duncan. Their dynasty then lasted another 20 years).
Andrew Wiggins Trade
When Kevin Durant left for Brooklyn, rather than lose him for nothing, Golden State orchestrated a trade and received Brooklyn’s All-Star point guard D’Angelo Russell as collateral. He was a good piece for Golden State and helped field the damage in the absence of Steph and Klay. However, it is extremely unlikely that Russell was ever a part of Golden State’s long-term plans. At the trade deadline, they flipped Russell to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Andrew Wiggins and Minnesota’s 2021 first-round pick.
Andrew Wiggins had all the potential in the world as the first pick in the 2014 NBA draft. He did not live up to that hype. He has led a decent career thus far, averaging 19.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and a steal per game throughout his first six seasons. But he was supposed to be more. Wiggins was receiving LeBron comparisons in high school and while he played at Kansas.
Golden State is hoping that a change of scene is what Wiggins needs to reach his potential. He is an athletic wing player who can create his own shot. If the Warriors are able to bring in Wiggins and plug him into an efficient and effective role in their roster, then he can be a vital piece of their team.
Despite his max contract, Golden State is not asking Andrew Wiggins to be the guy. He was asked of that in Minnesota and struggled to live up to the part. Instead, he is only being asked to be a role player in the Bay. If Wiggins can fit in with the Warriors roster and culture, then he could be a legitimate contributor to the success of Golden State for years to come.
They also received that Timberwolves 2021 first-round pick in the D’Angelo Russell trade, which has the potential to be a high lottery pick. Another chance for Golden State to add another solid young player to their core.
2021 NBA Free Agency
On top of everything, Golden State is poised to make a splash in the 2021 free agency market. They will have the cap and roster ability to bring in a max-level player, which has the potential to be dangerous. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis and many other high-profile players will be available. Kevin Durant has shown that Golden State is capable of luring a player of that caliber.
If the Warriors can manage their cap accordingly and put themselves in a position to land another superstar player to put alongside Steph, Klay and Draymond, then the whole league will be in trouble once again. The most realistic target is Giannis Antetokounmpo because Kawhi and AD will probably re-sign with the Clippers and the Lakers.
Overall, there is a lot that Golden State can do to improve their team in the upcoming years. The return of Splash Brothers Steph Curry and Klay Thompson will bring a lot of the pace, flow and swagger of the Warrior offense back to the floor. The addition of Andrew Wiggins can give Golden State another player with plenty of room for growth and improvement. He could serve as a serviceable part of their team if he is able to carve a role for himself in their playbook and playstyle.
Golden State also will have a high draft pick this year, which gives them the ability to add a young star to their mix. They can also move that pick as part of a deal to acquire more talent. They also have Minnesota’s first-round pick next year from the Wiggins trade, and Golden State is hoping that it will be a high lottery pick. They will also have the opportunity to add another superstar to their roster during the summer of 2021.
Golden State is having a poor year this year, but this is merely a temporary downfall. The Warriors will be back, next year and beyond, and looking to continue their dynasty where they left off.