The Golden State Warriors entered the 2021-22 season as the fourth biggest favorite to win the title, trailing only the Nets, Lakers, and Bucks. The Warriors exceeded expectations early, launching out of the gate with a 27-7 record through 2021. They headed into the New Year looking poised to climb the mountain for the first time in three years behind the number one rated defense in the league and a trio of All-Stars, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins. And they did it all without Klay Thompson.
Klay returned on January 7th, the same game Draymond Green began a two-month stint on the sideline with a lower-back injury. Despite having Thompson back on the court, the Warriors struggled without Green, their defensive quarterback, and they started to slip on the less fun end. Making matters worse, Stephen Curry was laid down with a left ankle tweak in the middle of March. The Warriors’ well-oiled two-way machine began spitting out smoke, pistons grinding to a halt.
Golden State ended the year in ugly fashion, finishing 11-12 after the All-Star break, leaving fans and experts alike wondering if this was another wasted year for Steph, Klay, and Dray. The Warriors have blasted off in the postseason, beating the Nuggets four games to one in the First Round. Steph has looked dominant as the most talented sixth man ever to play, Klay Thompson is 100%, Draymond Green is anchoring the defense again, and Jordan Poole has emerged as one of the biggest stars in the playoffs.
The Warriors are poised to do real damage in the 2022 postseason. However, they have the highest payroll in the league this season at $178,242,289 and look like they will top the NBA again next season in player salaries.
Will Golden State management be able to keep the band together in the long run?
Below we’ll detail every Warriors player’s status heading into the 2022-23 season and discuss what GM Bob Myers will likely do with each member of their roster.
Stephen Curry - $48.1 Million
Entering 1st Season Of A Max 4-Year Extension (2022-23: $48.1 Million, 2023-24: $51.9 Million, 2024-25: $55.8 Million, 2025-26: $59.6 Million)
Stephen Curry had a down year in 2021-22. After leading the league in scoring the previous season with 32.0 points per contest, he averaged “only” 25.5 PPG along with 5.2 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.3 SPG, and 38.0 3P%. Still, Curry led the Warriors in Win Shares at 8.0 for the season, and he was also first on the team in Box Plus/Minus at 5.8. Steph, typically an offensive-oriented player, had his most impressive overall defensive season. Dunks and Threes rated him in the 91st percentile in the NBA in Estimated Defensive +/-, behind his 2.2 deflections per game and 44.1 DFG%.
Stephen Curry, 33, is one of the most skilled two-way players in the NBA, and he showed no signs of slowing down this season. He featured Yo-Yo handles, one of the most impressive stop-and-go moves of all time, and a top-10 burst to the rim. Steph will retire as a Warrior with his jersey hanging in the rafters.
Klay Thompson - $40.6 Million
Entering 4th Season Of A Max 5-Year Contract (2022-23: $40.6 Million, 2023-24: $43,2 Million)
Klay Thompson returned on January 7th after missing the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. He averaged 20.4 PPG, 3.9 RPG, and 2.8 APG while connecting on 38.5% of his shots from deep off 9.3 attempts per game during the regular season. Klay could probably hit from deep with one leg when he’s 65-years-old, so it was no surprise his long distance shot looked clean this year. More importantly, Thompson showed no ill-effects from his knee and Achilles injuries, driving to the rack, maneuvering around screens, and shuffling side-to-side. Thompson connected on an excellent 71.4% of his attempts at the rim this season with a solid burst in the lane. He also held his assignments to an impressive 5.3% under their typical average on the season, playing tough-nosed defense.
Next year, Klay Thompson, 32, will enter the fourth season of his max contract. Warriors management will probably let him play out the year, ensuring he’s 100% healthy and doesn’t suffer another major injury. If Thompson gets through the year without incident, Golden State will probably offer him a significant extension, all but ensuring he retires next to Steph as a Warrior.
Draymond Green - $25.8 Million
Entering 3rd Season Of A 4-Year, $99.6 Million Contract (2022-23: $25.8 Million, 2023-24: $27.6 Million Player Option)
Draymond Green is one of the most unique players in the NBA. If you abide by his 2021-22 numbers—7.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 7.0 APG, 1.3 SPG, 1.1 BPG, and 29.6 3P%— he’s a solid role player who struggles from deep. His advanced stats don’t paint a much better picture of Green’s value. He ended the year with 2.8 DWS (5th on the Warriors) and 109 OFFRTG (13th on the Warriors).
Statistics are an excellent tool, but this is an instance where they are irrelevant. Draymond Green was the Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner before he was sidelined in early January, guiding the Warriors to a 101.5 Defensive Rating, 5.4 points better than the second-place Boston Celtics. Green guards every position on the court, and he works on a swivel, constantly helping his teammates against mini-breakdowns. On offense, Green shot poorly from deep this season, but he only attempted 1.2 three-point jumpers nightly, choosing instead to defer to his better-shooting teammates, setting them up with precise dimes from beyond the arc or off cuts to the basket.
Outside of Stephen Curry, Green is the most critical player on the Warriors. Dray has a player option for the 2023-24 season he’ll probably opt out of, looking for one last long-term payday. The Warriors would be wise to offer Green another four-year, $100 million contract, doing their part to ensure that he also retires in San Francisco.
Andrew Wiggins - $33.6 Million
Entering 5th Season Of A 5-Year Rookie Max Extension (2022-23: $33.6 Million)
Andrew Wiggins was named to his first All-Star team this season, averaging 17.2 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.2 APG, and 39.3 3P%. Maple Jordan was probably the premier 3-and-D wing in the league, offering the Warriors top-10 perimeter defense along with the 36th highest three-point shooting percentage in the NBA.
The Warriors would undoubtedly love to keep Andrew Wiggins, 26, but he could be the odd man out with over $113 million due next season to just Steph, Klay, and Dray. Next year Andrew Wiggins will head into the final season of his five-year rookie max extension, and he’ll almost certainly ask for another five-year max deal. Golden State can’t afford that type of money with Jordan Poole’s incredibly cheap contract expiring during the summer of 2023 and Moses Moody, James Wiseman, and Jonathan Kuminga’s rookie extensions on the horizon.
The Warriors could look to unload Andrew Wiggins in the 2022 offseason, jumping ahead of his eventual departure and picking up a couple of expiring contracts and future draft compensation.
Jordan Poole - $3.9 Million
Entering 3rd Season Of A 4-Year, $10 Million Contract (2022-23: $3.9 Million, 2023-24: $5.8 Million Qualifying Offer)
Jordan Poole ended the 2021-22 season by averaging 23.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 5.2 APG, and 40.8 3P% after the All-Star break. He’s also been the breakout star of the postseason, putting up 21.0 PPG while shooting 48.4% from deep. Poole has one of the quickest first steps in the league. He leverages his excellent outside shooting touch, constantly pressuring opposing defenders into making tough decisions on the perimeter. He’s also steadily increased his playmaking ability throughout the season, showing lead guard chops toward the end of the year and in the playoffs.
Jordan Poole will become a restricted free agent at the end of the 2023 season, meaning any team can offer him a contract, with the Warriors able to match. Recent reports circling among Golden State insiders state GM Rob Myers could give Poole a deal after the postseason is finished in the range of four-year, $80 million, cementing him as part of the Warriors’ core for the foreseeable future.
James Wiseman - $9.6 Million
Entering 3rd Season Of a 4-Year, $39.6 Million Contract (2022-23: $9.6 Million, 2023-24: $12.1 Million Team Option)
Next season, James Wiseman will enter the third year of his career, having played only 39 games. During his time on the court, Wiseman played ho-hum basketball, averaging 11.5 PPG off mostly put backs and cuts to the rim, and 0.9 BPG while flashing subpar shot-blocking instincts.
Wiseman is a legitimate 7-footer, and he could become an excellent rim protecting center for the Warriors, but he’s far from a sure thing. As things stand now, James Wiseman will be Golden State’s fifth-highest player next season. The Warriors have the highest payroll in the league, and with Kevon Looney’s solid play and knowledge of their system, it could be wise to trade their young center over the summer for a veteran frontcourt player and draft compensation.
Jonathan Kuminga - $5.7 Million
Entering 2nd Season of 4-Year, $24.8 Million Contract (2022-23: $5.7 Million, 2023-24: $6.0 Million Team Option, 2024-25: $7.6 Million Team Option)
Jonathan Kuminga had an excellent rookie year for Golden State, averaging 9.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 0.9 APG, and 33.6 3P%, carving out a role for the veteran Warriors, playing 16.9 minutes per game across 70 games. Kuminga supplied the over-the-rim athleticism in 2021-22 we expected, but his 110% defense was a surprise. He flashed top-20 defensive potential as a player who could eventually guard positions 1 through 5 on the court.
Next season, Jonathan Kuminga will begin the second year of his rookie contract, and he should be on the Warriors for at least the next seven years as a member of Golden State’s core.
Moses Moody - $3.7 Million
Entering 2nd Season Of 4-Year, $17.0 Million Contract (2022-23: $3.7 Million, 2023-24: $3.9 Million Team Option, 2024-25: $5.8 Million Team Option
Moses Moody didn’t get the same playing time as fellow rookie Jonathan Kuminga. He saw action in only 52 games during 2021-22, totaling 607 minutes, averaging 4.4 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.4 APG, and 36.4% from deep. Moody flashed a smooth stroke from deep during his freshman campaign and, at 6-6, 205 pounds, has the prototypical size teams look for in a perimeter defensive stopper.
Moody is firmly entrenched in the Warriors’ future plans, and if Golden State trades Wiggins during the summer, he could see his role increase significantly next year.
Otto Porter Jr. - Unrestricted Free Agent
The Warriors signed Otto Porter Jr. to a $2.4 million one-year contract, and it’s safe to say he earned himself a pay raise for next season and beyond. Otto Porter Jr. averaged 8.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.1 APG, and 37.0% from beyond the arc in 2021-22. He also posted the 47th highest Defensive Win Share mark in the NBA, at 2.7 for the season.
Golden State is looking at a massive luxury tax bill in 2022-23, but 3-and-D players are critical in this modern version of the NBA, and only a dozen or so wings outperformed Otto Porter Jr.’s combination of perimeter defense and outside shooting this season. GM Rob Myers would be wise to try and lock up Porter Jr. to a reasonable three-year, $24 million deal if he can.
Kevon Looney - Unrestricted Free Agent
Kevon Looney, 25, has spent his entire career playing for Steve Kerr and the Warriors. He is far from an All-Star center, averaging 6.0 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 0.6 BPG this season across 21.1 minutes nightly, but he is dependable and knows Golden State’s system.
It would be a massive surprise if Warriors management didn’t offer Kevon Looney a new multi-year contract at a reasonable price during the offseason, something like a two-year, $10 million deal.
Andre Iguodala - Unrestricted Free Agent
Andre Iguodala, 38, only played in 31 regular season games, but even at his advanced NBA age, he was one of the most effective short-burst defenders in the league. Iggy held his assignments to 7.2% under their typical shooting rate, and he ended the year with a 3.7 DBPM.
Andre Iguodala offers the type of high-class veteran leadership and excellent defensive acumen every well-run organization covets. Warriors management gave Iguodala a one-year minimum contract this season, and if he is willing to suit up for another year, GM Rob Myers will almost certainly offer him the same type of a deal this summer.
Nemanja Bjelica - Unrestricted Free Agent
Nemanja Bjelica was a pleasant surprise for the Golden State Warriors in 2021-22. He averaged 6.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 0.4 BPG, and 36.2 3P% while playing solid position defense across 16.1 minutes per contest. Bjelica formed a nice center rotation with Kevon Looney, furnishing a change of pace from the 5 position with his solid outside stroke.
The Warriors signed Bjelica to a one-year, minimum contract in 2021-22 and will probably run it back with him on the same type of low-risk deal for next season.
Gary Payton II - Unrestricted Free Agent
Gary Payton II joined the Warriors this season on an unguaranteed contract and was only offered a year-long deal during January. Gary Payton II is one of the premier perimeter defenders in the league. He ended the year ranked second in the league in Dunks and Threes Estimated Defensive +/-, with a +3.6 mark behind his 120% I-want-to-stick-in-the-league effort and quick hands. Payton II wasn’t merely a one-way player, either. He was a beast at the rim, finishing 82.5% of his shots within 0 to 3 feet of the basket (5th in the NBA).
Top-tier perimeter ballhawks are incredibly valuable in the NBA right now. Defensive specialists like Alex Caruso and Marcus Smart received lucrative multi-year deals to hound the opposing squad’s point guard, and Young Glove could be next. The Warriors would be foolish not to try to keep Payton II, but they might not be able to afford him.
Damion Lee - Unrestricted Free Agent
Damion Lee was a decent contributor for the Warriors in 2021-22. He averaged 7.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and 1.0 APG across 63 games. Still, Lee made only 33.7% of his shots from deep and ended the year with a -2.0 Box Plus/Minus.
Damion Lee has fallen almost entirely out of the Warriors playoff rotation, averaging only 4.0 MPG in the First Round. The Warriors have a surplus of backcourt talent, and Lee seems like the odd man out. It would be a surprise to see the shooting guard back in Golden State next season.
Juan Toscano-Anderson - Unrestricted Free Agent
Juan Toscano-Anderson averaged 4.1 PPG, 2.4 APG, and 1.7 APG while shooting 32.2% from deep in 2021-22. Like fellow backcourt bench mate Damion Lee, Toscano-Anderson has found his role diminished in the playoffs, averaging only 4.0 minutes per game through two First Round games.
Unlike Damion Lee, Juan Toscano-Anderson is an excellent defender who goes hard every second he’s on the court. It seems likely that Warriors management will bring their young energizer back next season on a minimum deal unless another squad lures him away with a better multi-year contract.
The Warriors’ 2022 Offseason Will Be Critical For Their Future
Golden State is still playing in the postseason, but it’s not too soon to look toward their future.
Steph, Klay, and Dray should retire as Warriors with their jerseys swaying from the ceiling, while Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody look like future starters for Golden State. Jordan Poole could be due a lengthy long-term deal, and the Warriors would be wise to ink Otto Porter Jr., Kevon Looney, Andre Iguodala, Nemanja Bjelica, and Juan Toscano-Anderson to new contracts.
At the same time, Andrew Wiggins and James Wiseman could be on the move during the summer of 2022, victims of Golden State’s massive payroll. Gary Payton II might prove too expensive for the Warriors, and Damion Lee looks like he could be on the outside looking in.