The 2020-21 NBA season is set to tip-off on Dec. 22. To get you ready for the year to come, we're dedicating one day between now and the start of the season to each team in the league.
Today, we head out West to take a look at the Golden State Warriors.
2019-20 season record
15-50, 15th in the Western Conference
James Wiseman - No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft
Nico Mannion - No. 48 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft
Justinian Jessup - No. 51 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft
Kelly Oubre - Trade
Kent Bazemore - Free agency
Brad Wanamaker - Free agency
Dragan Bender - Free agency (Maccabi Tel Aviv)
Ky Bowman - Waived
Alec Burks - Free agency (New York Knicks)
Glenn Robinson - Free agency (Sacramento Kings)
|PG||Stephen Curry||Brad Wanamaker||Mychal Mulder|
|SG||Andrew Wiggins||Damion Lee||Jordan Poole|
|SF||Kelly Oubre Jr.||Kent Bazemore||Juan Toscano-Anderson|
|PF||Draymond Green||Eric Paschall||Alen Smailagic|
|C||James Wiseman||Kevon Looney||Marquese Chriss|
3 key storylines
Can the Warriors overcome the loss of Klay Thompson?
On Nov. 19, the Warriors announced that Klay Thompson is expected to miss the entire 2020-21 season after suffering a torn right Achilles tendon in a workout.
If he does miss the entire season, it will mark the second straight season in which the Warriors have been without the five-time All-Star, as Thompson missed the 2019-20 season after tearing his left ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals.
Klay Thompson suffered a torn right Achilles tendon, an MRI confirmed today in Los Angeles. Thompson suffered the injury in a workout yesterday in Southern California. He is expected to miss the 2020-21 season. pic.twitter.com/w733cWawK6- Golden State Warriors (@warriors) November 19, 2020
With Thompson, the Warriors were expected to be one of the best teams in the Western Conference yet again this season. The Warriors are still expected to be competitive without him - PointsBet set Golden State's win total at 39, the seventh-best in the Western Conference - but there isn't anyone on the roster who can replace Thompson's 3-point shooting and perimeter defence.
Thompson's absence will put a lot of pressure on Curry to carry the team offensively, Green to set the tone defensively, and Wiggins, Oubre and Wiseman to get up to speed sooner rather than later.
Can Stephen Curry stay healthy?
With Thompson sidelined, the Warriors can't afford for Curry to have another injury-riddled season.
Following five straight seasons in which he missed little-to-no time, Curry missed 31 games in 2017-18, 13 games in 2018-19 and 60 games in 2019-20.
In 2017-18 and 2018-19, the Warriors had Thompson, Green and Kevin Durant to turn to whenever Curry was out. In 2019-20, they had only Green. The result? The Warriors averaged 104.4 points per 100 possessions in the 2019-20 season, giving them the worst offensive efficiency in the NBA.
The Warriors have more talent this season than they did last season - Wiggins, Oubre and Wiseman are upgrades over who Golden State had at shooting guard, small forward and centre in 2019-20 - but they're still only going to go as far as Curry can take them.
If Curry can stay healthy, the Warriors should be in the mix for one of the eight playoff spots up for grabs. If he can't, it's hard to see them competing with the likes of the Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks, nevermind the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets at the top of the Western Conference.
Is James Wiseman ready to contribute?
It's no surprise that the Warriors used the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft to select Wiseman. Not only does he have some of the highest upside in his class, he fills a huge need for the Warriors at centre.
As NBA.com's Kane Pitman wrote on the night of the draft:
Wiseman provides an immediate fit for the now, while also carrying significant upside into the future. While LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards would have been fine selections, Wiseman is exactly what the Warriors need.
What will be interesting to see is how ready Wiseman is to contribute to a team that has playoff expectations this season.
There's no denying Wiseman's talent, but he played only three games in his lone collegiate season and won't get an opportunity to play in Summer League. While he does carry significant upside into the future, the Warriors would benefit greatly from him hitting the ground running, even moreso now that Thompson is likely out for the season.
5 games to watch
Los Angeles Lakers, Date: TBD
Stephen Curry against LeBron James. Need I say more?
Portland Trail Blazers, Date: TBD
A battle between two of the best point guards in the league in Curry and Damian Lillard and two teams hoping to rise up the Western Conference standings this season.
Phoenix Suns, Date: TBD
Another point guard showdown, this time between Curry and Chris Paul. Curry and Paul have a lot of history, having played against each other 30 times in the regular season and 18 times in the playoffs.
Brooklyn Nets, Date: TBD
Kevin Durant's first game against the Warriors since leaving the franchise for the Nets in 2019. Durant has career averages of 30.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game against the Warriors.
Minnesota Timberwolves, Date: TBD
Wiggins faces the Timberwolves for the first time since being traded to the Warriors. Also a matchup between the No. 1 pick (Anthony Edwards) and No. 2 pick (James Wiseman) in the 2020 NBA Draft.
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