With the 2019-20 NBA season quickly approaching, we're rolling out 30 Teams in 30 Days. Between now and opening night, we'll dedicate one day to each team in the league.
Today, we're looking at the Golden State Warriors.
2018-19 season record
57-25 (1st in the Western Conference)
Projected 2019-20 season record
49-33 (6th in the Western Conference)
D'Angelo Russell (sign-and-trade)
Willie Cauley-Stein (free agency)
Glenn Robinson III (free agency)
Alec Burks (free agency)
Jordan Poole (draft)
Eric Paschall (trade)
Omari Spellman (trade)
Kevin Durant (sign-and-trade)
Andre Iguodala (trade)
Shaun Livingston (retired)
Quinn Cook (free agency)
Jonas Jerebko (free agency)
Andrew Bogut (free agency)
|PG||Stephen Curry||Andrew Harrison|
|SG||D'Angelo Russell||Alec Burks||Jordan Poole||Klay Thompson*|
|SF||Alfonzo McKinnie||Jacob Evans||Glenn Robinson III|
|PF||Draymond Green||Omari Spellman||Eric Paschall|
|C||Kevon Looney||Willie Cauley-Stein|
* Out indefinitely while recovering from torn ACL suffered in the NBA Finals
3 key storylines
Stephen Curry's MVP campaign
Kevin Durant is in Brooklyn.
Klay Thompson is likely out until the spring.
If the Warriors are going to remain in the mix in a ridiculously deep Western Conference that has as many as 13 teams with legitimate hopes of making the playoffs, Curry will almost certainly need to revert back to the version of himself that won back-to-back MVP awards in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
On one hand, it's been several years since we've seen that version of Curry over an extended stretch. He's 31-years-old and has missed extended time in each of the last two seasons.
On the other hand, there's evidence to suggest that flame-throwing, super-saiyan version of Curry never really left, but has merely been in hibernation. Here's a year-by-year breakdown of what Curry did in limited time on the floor without both Durant and Thompson since the 2016-17 season:
If he scores like that, he's probably winning the scoring title.
If it leads to the Warriors hovering in the top 4 in the West, he very well could wind up capturing his third MVP.
Will 16-game Draymond Green show up early?
Of course, Curry can't do it alone.
D'Angelo Russell will be the secondary scorer and playmaker while Draymond Green will need to do ... well, everything else.
The version of Green that showed up in last year's playoffs is not remotely close to the one that slogged through the regular season. The one that shed weight and flew around the court on both ends is the version that won a Defensive Player of the Year in 2016-17 and led a 73-win team in assists back in 2015-16.
Green has spoken at length previously about the differences between 82-game players and 16-game players. Some players pile up heaps of stats all season long only to succumb to the pressures of the postseason while others have a knack for time and time again elevating their play. And while it's certainly true that postseason basketball is an entirely different animal, there's no question that if the Warriors are going to remain in the hunt that they'll 16-game Draymond for the 82-game portion of the season.
Fresh off a brand new four-year, $100 million contract extension that should end all speculation about his long-term status in Golden State, will Green lock in to help pick up the slack on what's a dangerously thin roster sorely in need of his swiss-army knife ability?
Concerns about depth
Klay Thompson will eventually come back and given his reputation, there's no reason to expect anything less than a full recovery. When he does, the Warriors' top-end talent remains elite, especially when considering the annual shrinking of rotations come playoff time.
But that's far off in the distance.
Remember that table about Curry dominating without Durant and Thompson? Besides Curry and Green, the two players who spent the most time out on the floor during those stretches are Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, two dependable Warriors mainstays no longer on the team.
Until Thompson returns, the fifth starter is likely to be Alfonzo McKinnie. Moving beyond the starting five, Steve Kerr will be relying on some combination of Willie Cauley-Stein, Omari Spellman, Jacob Evans, Jordan Poole, Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III. While Russell will certainly run the show in the majority of non-Curry minutes, the listed backup point guard is currently Andrew Harrison, who played all of 17 games last season for three different teams.
Not only are they largely unproven, it's almost an entirely new group. Outside of McKinnie and Evans, everyone else will be acclimating to a new locker room in addition to taking on bigger roles than they've been accustomed to.
The NBA is a star-driven league and the Warriors still have a supernova. But depth matters, especially when said supernova is on the wrong side of 30 and relatively sleight with a checkered injury history.
5 games to watch
Oct. 24 vs. LA Clippers
So much for an easy start to the season. After nearly five decades at Oracle Arena across the bay in Oakland, Golden State's season opener comes in the brand new Chase Center in downtown San Francisco against the team considered by many to be the prohibitive title favourites led by Kawhi Leonard, who is only months removed from ending Golden State's tyrannical grip on the NBA.
Nov. 13 at Los Angeles Lakers
Yes, they'll play each other a whopping four times in the preseason. But this is the first one that counts, the (relatively) new-look Warriors against the power couple of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Dec. 25 vs. Houston Rockets
This is actually their second meeting of the season as the Warriors travel to Houston on Nov. 6. But Christmas is special and there's no more fitting opponent than the team that's consistently given the Warriors more fits than anyone else in recent years. James Harden and Russell Westbrook will look to play the role of Grinch in Golden State.
Feb. 5 at Brooklyn Nets
D'Angelo Russell's return to Brooklyn and a head-to-head matchup with Kyrie Irving will be fun. This, of course, will garner far more attention the first time these teams hook up in the 2020-21 season when Durant is presumably back. But regardless, the Warriors trip into Brooklyn is one worth circling on the calendar.
March 16 at Toronto Raptors
The Warriors and Raptors play twice in a span of two weeks in March with the second meeting in Toronto. This will be Golden State's first game back in Toronto since Game 5 of the NBA Finals when Durant infamously tore his Achilles. While there's no Durant or Leonard, there's a chance that Thompson is back in time for this one.
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