ESPN’s summer forecast predicts that the Golden State Warriors will have the biggest turnaround next season. The Warriors missed the playoffs last year via the play-in tournament despite being the 8th seed after losses to the three-rim-seeing LeBron James and the Lakers, followed by a home loss to Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies. The Dubs did all this despite the absence of Klay Thompson, their all-star guard looking to make a comeback this season, reuniting the Splash Brothers for the first time since the 2019 NBA Finals.
While the promise of Klay Thompson’s return breathes life into the Warriors’ locker room, the prevailing question is whether or not the Dubs can pick the dynasty up where they left off. Concerns continue to arise as the core members of those championship teams are either a few years older or no longer with the team.
“The Warriors need to see their offense come back. They fell to 19th in offensive rating last year, largely because Draymond Green’s offense just went…”Brian Windhorst, ESPN The Jump.
Draymond’s offensive decline has been steep. In just five years, he has gone from the potential Finals MVP in 2016 to someone teams don’t pay much attention to on the offensive end; it still puzzles me how Draymond became such a liability in terms of scoring. Many say that Green’s decline and Klay’s impending struggles coming back from two major injuries are signals that the Warriors will not be the same team we saw take the league by storm in 2014-2015. From my perspective, I think that the Warriors with Klay Thomspon are automatic title contenders and would be the favorites to the league’s best chance at beating The Brooklyn Nets.
The Lakers certainly have the star power along with this guy named LeBron James, but in a matchup against the Nets, it’ll be a battle between the Lakers’ relentless attack on the rim versus the Nets’ impeccable scoring. With the Lakers likely having to count on their defense to give them a chance against the Nets, I see very few scenarios where the Laker lineup can keep KD, Kyrie, and James Harden in check.
As for the Warriors, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson can get even more scorching hot than those boys in Brooklyn. More importantly, we have seen it happen time and time again on the biggest stage. Please look up “Game Six Klay” if you have managed to forget.
The Warriors are also a team built to contend with the Nets defensively, and they’re simply more connected and more agile than the Lakers. Anthony Davis is great at guarding the paint and makes up for the Lakers’ mistakes on defense, but Draymond Green makes sure those mistakes rarely happen, which is a level of sophistication a team needs to contend with Brooklyn. Steve Kerr’s ability to get the most of his players on that end of the floor is any team’s chance at applying pressure to the ultra-talented Nets guards. The Warriors may not have as many isolation weapons as the Nets or Lakers, however, their constant moving and impeccable passing will not only get them open shots but tire out the Brooklyn guards by making them chase Curry and Thompson all over the court. The Splash Brothers’ off-ball movement alone is enough to break defense schemes and get anybody else on the team a wide-open shot, and while the recipient of those open looks will no longer be Harrison Barnes of Kevin Durant, you can count on a shooter being the one taking those shots.
Lastly, intensity matters in the finals, and the Warriors come with tons of it. Apart from Draymond Green, young players like Juan Toscano-Anderson and Jordan Poole compete on both ends of the floor. They might not have been great last year, but we all know how one great season, followed by an offseason of hard work, can tremendously impact a young player’s game.
In boxing, they say styles make fights, but the same is true for basketball as well. The Golden State Warriors are not even the fourth most talented team in the Western Conference, but you can be sure that no team in the top half of the division will want to see them in the first round. Why is that? Because character, chemistry, and continuity matter, and that’s what the Warriors have more of than the two superteams in the league today.