The Golden State Warriors dynasty has been diminished over the past couple of seasons. With the loss of Klay Thompson in the 2019 NBA Finals and then Steph Curry to an early-season injury last year, the Warriors were set up for a tanking season. After this 15-win season, they drafted versatile big man James Wiseman with the 2nd overall pick. Things were looking positive for the Warriors going into last season until Klay Thompson experienced another heartbreaking setback, injuring his Achilles in training camp.
The Warriors played decently, finishing with a 39-33 record, but it was clear that for this team to truly compete Curry needed his splash brother alongside him. Steph was able to carry the Warriors to the play-in tournament, but they lost to the Lakers and Grizzlies in back-to-back games.
Now here we are, 2021, the year that everything should fall back into place for the Warriors. While Klay may not return until Christmas, this team is fully loaded after some solid moves in the off-season.
The question is... Does this team have what it takes to win the championship?
Point Guard - Steph Curry
Former unanimous MVP and greatest 3-point shooter of all-time… Stephen Curry.
Steph is clearly back in form after witnessing last year's campaign. The chef whipped up some spicy numbers averaging a career-high 32.0 PPG, 5.8 APG, and 5.5 RPG. He shot an unbelievable 42% from the 3-point line with 12.7 attempts per game. Statistically, this season was even better than the year he won the unanimous MVP.
Steph had a lot of responsibility last season. The most he’s ever had. He proved that he can carry a team, but it’s not enough to win championships in today’s game. It’s going to be scary to see what the Splash Brothers will do this season once they are finally reunited.
Shooting Guard - Klay Thompson
Although Klay won’t start the season off, he should return in December or January given his injury timeline of 8-12 months.
Klay Thompson will have an emotional return to the court after a 2-year absence. It was sad to see Klay go down in game 6 of the 2019 NBA finals, but it may have even been worse to see him go down just as he was getting back up.
Klay is the best catch-and-shoot 3 point shooter of all time. He has textbook form and he releases the ball before you can blink an eye. To have him and Curry alongside each other is just unfair at times. The last we saw of Klay in 2019 he averaged 21.5 PPG on 40% from the 3-point line.
No one knows what we will get out of Klay in his return. But one thing I do know is that a great shooter never loses his touch. Everyone should be rooting for this man to return better than ever.
Small Forward - Andrew Wiggins
The Warriors are in jeopardy of losing another starter for half of the season in Andrew Wiggins. Currently in San Francisco, there is a COVID-19 vaccine mandate which requires all fans and players to prove vaccine status at large events and gatherings. Wiggins has yet to get the vaccine and the NBA has recently denied his exemption request. It will be interesting to see how the Warriors handle this situation given he will not be able to play in any home games.
Andrew Wiggins is coming off a very impressive season averaging 18.6 PPG. All of his shooting percentages went up as well. With players like Curry and Klay around you, it shouldn’t be very hard to get good looks. Wiggins has always been a scorer, but if he wants to become a better player he’ll need to improve his playmaking.
Power Forward - Draymond Green
Draymond Green has been with the Warriors through it all. He has had some good seasons and some not-so-good seasons. He struggled a lot in 2019 without Curry and Klay. But when he’s got his Splash Bros with him, Draymond is the perfect fit alongside them.
One thing that’s for sure about Draymond is that he will bring high intensity every single game. This passion and high intensity can be a good and a bad thing. Sometimes it can cause tempers to flare… So usually Draymond ends up leading the league in a stat that’s not on the box score: technical fouls.
Draymond Green is a true defensive stopper and can guard multiple positions on the court. Somehow his shot has gotten worse over the years, but he is still an outstanding playmaker. Draymond averaged 7 PPG, 8.9 APG, and 7.1 RPG last season.
Center - James Wiseman
James Wiseman will be looking to improve upon a mediocre rookie year. The second pick in the draft showed flashes last season of his potential, but he still has many areas he can improve upon.
In 39 games Wiseman averaged 11.5 PPG and 5.8 RPG. One thing about James Wiseman is that he always puts in the effort when he’s on the court. He plays harder and stronger than he actually is. Sometimes it’s not all about how much weight you can bench or squat, it’s more of a mindset of playing tough and Wiseman has this mindset. He’s also 7-foot 240 lbs so that helps a little bit.
If James can develop a consistent mid-range or potentially extend it out to the 3-point line, he will be lethal. He’s a great screen setter and finisher at the rim, so he can fit in well with what the Warriors do. I’m sure he will improve this season, his only roadblock will be his health.
Mychal Mulder, Chris Chiozza, Gary Payton II, Jordan Poole, Damion Lee, Moses Moody, Avery Bradley, Otto Porter, Jonathan Kuminga, Andre Iguodala, Nemanja Bjelica, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Kevon Looney
Since Klay Thompson is out until December-January we will most likely see Jordan Poole start off the year for the Warriors. He turned out to have a pretty good campaign last year averaging 12 PPG. And in Golden State's final 6 games, he averaged 20.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, and 3 three-pointers in 26 MPG.
This Golden State team has a couple of key new additions in Otto Porter, Nemanja Bjelica, Moses Moody, and they also returned former finals MVP Andre Iguodala. Otto Porter has had a bit of an up and down career, but he has been a decent contributor throughout. Having him come off the bench should bring a spark to this team.
Nemanja Bjelica will be a good fit with the Warriors. He’s a 6’10 PF/C that can shoot the 3. It’ll be nice for the Warriors to have a center that can spread the floor at times. Moses Moody is the Warriors' latest draft pick out of Arkansas. He averaged 16.8 PPG in college. He may have an opportunity for some minutes early on with Klay out, but once he returns, the rookie may not see much floor time. The Warriors also returned veteran Andre Iguodala. He’s 37 years old and his play has dropped off a bit, but he still can bring value to a team, especially this one.
Do The Warriors Have What It Takes To Win A Championship?
The Warriors have a lot of question marks surrounding their team. For one, Klay Thompson is out for the first couple of months of the season. For two, Andrew Wiggins' availability is in question because of the vaccine mandates in their hometown. And for three, James Wiseman won’t be available until later on in the season while recovering from right meniscus surgery.
So it seems like Steph will be in a familiar position for at least the beginning of the season. What we do know is that he can carry his own and he should be able to keep the team afloat while they fully recover. If they have a decent record by the time Klay is able to return they should be able to slide into a playoff spot.
This roster when healthy looks to have a lot of potential. They have three 20+ PPG scorers, a playmaking forward, a big man on the rise, a couple of vets, some young guys, and a few solid role players.
The question remains as to whether or not this team could really compete for a championship this year. The Warriors currently sit at 3rd as far as championship odds go at +900. That is impressive and surprising considering they only sit behind the obvious favorites in the Lakers and Nets. Being without their second-best player and then having to ease him back in after a 2-year hiatus will be tough. If the Warriors are able to squeeze their way into the playoffs… The chemistry they’ve developed over the past 10 years with their core of Steph, Klay, and Draymond could be enough to force them into the NBA finals.