Before the season started, The Golden State Warriors’ reign over the Western Conference came to an end. Kevin Durant is now a Nets player. Klay Thompson’s out injured. Key players, Shaun Livingstone and Andre Igoudala have moved.
Over the course of the previous 5 seasons, The Warriors accumulated a staggering 322 wins from 410 regular season games. They hold a respectable 3-2 record in the NBA finals in the same period. The most despised team are now struggling with an unbelievable misfortunate run with injuries.
Firstly, Klay Thompson has torn his ACL and will be evaluated only after the all-star break. There’s a good chance that the defensive splash brother, will not step on the court this season. Kevin Looney has been dealing with a nervous issue, and has missed extended time. Draymond Green tore his finger ligaments, putting the versatile forward out of action for a few games. Jacob Evans, Eric Paschall are facing time on the sidelines as well.
The most devastating in season loss was Steph Curry. The 2x MVP broke his hand in a collision with Aron Baynes. The initial prognosis suggested he would be out for 3 months. Recent reports are not helping. It’s suggested he will be missing the entirety of the season. It’s the most devastating injury he suffered since 2012 when ankle issues derailed his 2011-12 season.
Warriors owner has said that the team will fight it out to the end. If the prognosis of Curry’s injury is true, it will be beneficial for the team to now consider tanking and preparing themselves for the upcoming 2020-21 season. If the Warriors can ride out this stormy season, there’s a relatively brighter season up ahead.
How you might wonder?
Firstly, it’s obvious. Both Splash Brothers: Klay Thompson and Steph Curry will return to action. The bonus of missing the season through injuries, is letting their bodies recover from an exhausting 5-year championship contending run. It can also consider them to rest Draymond Green towards the end of the season.
Between Green, Curry and Thompson the Warriors have a core trio for the next 2 seasons at the very least (when Curry’s 5-year Super Max contract ends). Secondly, by tanking this season, they will protect their 2020 1st Round Pick. That pick, would have gone to Brooklyn if it fell out of the Top 20. The intense competition of the Western Conference will push the Warriors out of playoff contention. They will be part of the NBA lottery for the first time since 2012.
Secondly the Golden State Warriors are now an inexperienced roster. The Warriors last season had 5 players aged under 25. This season that number has jumped up to 8. Curry is the only player over 30 in the team. Despite the presence of D’Angelo Russell, the others will need time to acclimatize to the NBA. Reduced expectations and more playing time will ease that process.
Third factor is the hard cap. Most NBA teams have a soft cap, allowing them to exceed the salary cap with luxury tax penalties. The sign-and-trade deal that sent D’Angelo Russell to the Warriors and Kevin Durant to the Nets, have put a hard cap. The hard cap incurred, will limit their flexibility options in acquiring talent.
How to navigate the storm?
As mentioned, resting their big paying trio. If Curry and Klay are out, Draymond will be rested as well to have him fresher for the next season. Youth will gain experience, and develop as better role pieces.
Perhaps the most important asset is trade. It’s still up in the air, if the Warriors plan to trade D’Angelo Russell or integrate him into the team. After his stellar season at Brooklyn and good performances so far, there should be teams willing to trade. Similarly, there are other trade pieces, such as Willy Cauley-Stein and Alec Burcs. It will be the first time that the Warriors have made a mid-season trade in years.
The Golden State Warriors, are going to struggle to make the playoffs, and will be in the bottom rung of the NBA. That should encourage them to take tank a bit, and improve their odds for a good draft pick after many years.
The Warriors can hoard assets over the year, and then look to acquire and draft talent that will complement their rested star trio.
They might not be the dominant force between 2014-19, but the Warriors could emerge as a strong playoff team, even in a packed Western Conference