It seems like it all went downhill for the Warriors after KD went down with an injury. First, Klay Thompson tore his ACL in game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, which deprived them of any serious contention for the championship. Then Stephen Curry broke his hand at the start of the 2019-20 campaign, causing the Dubs to throw the season away and focus on next season, letting the Splash Brothers fully recover.
We all know how the offseason played out for the Dubs, with Durant taking his talents to Brooklyn. For many, KD’s departure marked the end of the dynasty. For Nick Wright, it didn’t end in one deciding moment. It was a result of a series of events.
“Unfortunately for my friends in the Bay Area, the answer is obviously and unequivocally yes. It didn’t end the moment Kevin Durant left. It was on life support when Klay tears his ACL, and Kevin Durant leaves.”Nick Wright, First Things First
And Wright is probably not wrong by saying that one of the greatest NBA runs is over. They probably won’t make five straight finals again and win three of them. However, what Wright said next is the part that’s bugging me. He questioned the moves they’ve made, meaning that they didn’t use their assets how they should’ve. Bad acquisitions resulted in no flexibility, which is the reason Wright thinks that the Warriors won’t make the finals again in a Stephen Curry era.
“The Warriors had one path forward – package their top-five pick that’s coming this year and D’Angelo Russell this summer for a legitimate impact player. Instead, they took an alternative path, which is to trade Russell for a far inferior player and get a pick that will never help you during Steph Curry’s prime. They forfeited their one real ability to add another star when they traded D’Angelo Russell to get Andrew Wiggins and a pick, that we would never get to see Steph Curry in the finals again.”Nick Wright, First Things First
First things first, let’s not take Wright’s words literally. Saying that Curry’s Warriors won’t make the finals again is pure speculation. What the NBA analyst is saying is that the Dubs won’t be in serious contention for the title soon. That’s the part I’m having trouble with.
We know how great Curry is, especially when he doesn’t have another superstar he has to defer to. We’ve seen some historic performances before Durant’s arrival, and we expect nothing less from Steph. Same thing with Klay. He is coming off an ACL injury but will have extra time to heal and get back in shape. He isn’t the type of player to be worried about if he’s going to come back the same. One thing he will have to do is get some strength back in his legs because he relies on his jump-shot the most. There will be an adjustment period for Thompson, getting back into playing rhythm, but once he gets accustomed to NBA basketball again, he’ll be fine.
What Draymond has done this season might be misleading from the type of player he is. Green was asked to be “the guy” on a roster full of young, unproven players. And he looked terrible, no doubt about it. But he would look bad on any team if he has to play the role of the star. Draymond has never been a go-to type of player. Green is an all-star type of role player. He is the glue guy and team’s leader, and he will be back in the role he thrived in when the unit is fully healthy. One thing he will have to improve is his three-point shooting. He shot .279 from outside the line this season. Him becoming a respectable outside shooter again is a critical factor for their famous system to work.
Then there’s Andrew Wiggins, who is a 22 points scorer in this league. He is going to be their 4th option. There aren’t many better in the NBA. Wiggins may be a disappointment as the first pick in a draft, but he could potentially find his spot in Golden State. Think about Andre Iguodala. He was a good player but resurrected his career after arriving in the Bay Area, becoming one of the best in the league in his role. I’m not saying Wiggins is the next Igoudala, but he is finally in a sound system where he isn’t expected to be the cornerstone of the franchise. He has shown that he isn’t built for that. What Wiggins brings them is athleticism on both ends of the floor and some intermediate game. He is also a much better positional fit than D’Angelo Russell, who was a centerpiece of that trade.
Other then what they already have on the roster, the Warriors have a guaranteed top 5 pick in a draft, with a 14% chance of it being number one. It probably won’t be a game-changer in a short run, but is a good stake for the future, whoever a pick turns out to be. If they find a trade partner to improve with a contributor right away, even better.
The days of Warriors being heavy favorites to win it all are over. However, their championship window is still not closed. And they all still got something to prove. They will come back fully healed and rested, with new faces on the roster, but the foundation of the original Warriors’ juggernaut team being the same. Will it be enough for another historic run? Probably not. But they should definitely still be considered a contender.