The 2021-22 NBA season is set to tip off on Oct. 19 (ET). In preparation for the upcoming season, we're dedicating one day between now and the start of the season to each team in the league.
Next up? Golden State Warriors.
2020-21 season record
39-33, 9th in Western Conference
Otto Porter Jr., free agency
Nemanja Bjelica, free agency
Andre Iguodala, free agency
Chris Chiozza, free agency
Jonathan Kuminga, No. 7 pick in 2021 NBA Draft
Moses Moody, No. 14 pick in 2021 NBA Draft
Kent Bazemore, free agency
Kelly Oubre Jr., free agency
Eric Paschall, trade
|PG||Stephen Curry||Jordan Poole||Damion Lee||Mychal Mulder||Gary Payton II|
|SG||Andrew Wiggins||Moses Moody||Avery Bradley||Chris Chiozza||*Klay Thompson|
|SF||Otto Porter Jr.||Jonathan Kuminga||Andre Iguodala|
|PF||Draymond Green||Juan Toscano-Anderson||Nemanja Bjelica|
|C||Kevon Looney||James Wiseman|
*sidelined until at least Dec.-Jan.
3 Key Storylines
Will Stephen Curry have another MVP year?
Last season, despite the Warriors not having any realistic title expectations, Stephen Curry had one of the best seasons of his career. His remarkable play made him an MVP finalist last year and saw him return to the All-Star and All-NBA First Team squads after missing both in the 2019-20 season, having played just five games.
His numbers last year of 32.0 points, 5.8 assists, 5.5 rebounds on shooting splits of 48.2 percent from the field, 42.1 percent from beyond the arc and 91.6 percent from the free-throw line, are not far off his averages during his unanimous league MVP season in 2015-16.
Given the talent that was on their roster a season ago, it's astounding that the Warriors recorded the eighth-best record in the West going 39-33. A huge credit for their success last season undoubtedly goes to Curry. There's this stat to better articulate his impact - with Curry on the floor, the Warriors' net rating was +4.6 but when he was on the bench, their net rating would dip to -5.6. He ranked seventh in the league in ESPN's PER, sixth on NBA.com's Player Impact Estimate and third in Box plus-minus.
This season, barring injuries or forced absences, the Warriors have re-tooled to build a deeper team around the two-time league MVP but a lot of their success this season still hugely depends on his standard of play.
How will the Warriors balance development and winning with their young core?
Having players the caliber of Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, the Warriors were never going to go full rebuild. Having said that, with Thompson's injuries, they haven't really been able to contend over the past couple of seasons.
Golden State didn't bring in another star after rumours suggested they would all offseason long. Instead, the franchise has drafted three young players in the lottery of the last two Drafts in James Wiseman (No. 2, 2020), Jonathan Kuminga (No. 7, 2021) and Moses Moody (No. 14, 2021) hoping they can develop alongside their superstar trio.
If even one of three young guns emerge and establish themselves, Golden State's decisions will massively benefit them but to prove themselves, the rookies need minutes early on and a key factor in their results early on will be how the Warriors balance their young core's development alongside trying to win now.
Can veteran locker room presence deliver on-court results?
Compared to last year's roster, there are certainly more veterans on hand to help Curry lead this roster. Andre Iguodala returns after a couple of years away, Avery Bradley, an 11-year veteran, can be a handy defensive guard alongside Curry and Nemanja Bjelica is a battle-tested 33-year-old Serbian stretch big.
All add incredible experience and maturity to the locker room alongside Curry, Green and Thompson. Each of them is aged 30 or above and has seen their minutes decline in the past few seasons, so it would be fair to not expect these players to average upwards of 30 minutes.
It would be their impact on the court and the culture off the court especially providing leadership to the team's young core that would be more valuable to the franchise. Neither of them has signed on for long-term contracts but their impact could be far more profound than any numbers they put on the floor this season.
5 games to watch
Oct. 19 at Los Angeles Lakers
The Golden State Warriors would love to avenge their close 103-100 Play-In game loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. While they do get that opportunity right away on opening night, it's against a much deeper and more star-studded Lakers squad, which includes former league MVP Russell Westbrook alongside their superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Nonetheless, it will be great for the Dubs to be back on the floor and test themselves right away against what many consider to be the championship favourites in the Western Conference.
Dec. 25 at Phoenix Suns
The streak of the Warriors playing on Christmas Day continues. This season, they travel to Phoenix to compete against the reigning Western Conference Champions Suns.
It will be the third matchup against Phoenix that month.
Jan. 13 at Milwaukee Bucks
This is not breaking news but the reigning NBA champions, unless injuries have run riot, always receive every team's best shot. The Warriors will get their first crack at the Bucks in Milwaukee, part of a four-game road trip in mid-January.
Last season, Golden State played the Bucks in Milwaukee on Christmas Day and were blown away by 39 points (138-99). Although they did get their revenge stunning the Bucks in January 122-121 albeit without Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Mar. 15 vs. Washington Wizards
A matchup between the reigning scoring champion Stephen Curry and Beal, who finished second by just 0.7 points per game. Both these teams have built their teams around the lone superstar guard and assembled quite similar rosters, ones with impressive depth that could be contending for the final playoff spots in their respective conferences.
This game is one of a four-game homestand when the Dubs also host Milwaukee, San Antonio and Boston.
TBD - Klay Thompson's first home game
Although the Warriors have provided no specific date or timeline, Klay Thompson could return early in 2022 barring any further setbacks.
When? Against which opponent? What would the minutes restriction look like? Nothing is known as of now but one thing is certain, the Chase Center will be rocking when Thompson checks into his first game in over 2.5 years. The last time he played in front of the Warriors fans was Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors at the Oracle (now Oakland) Arena on Jun. 13, 2019.
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