Call me crazy, but the Golden State Warriors will be a force in the Western Conference this season. Yes, you heard me correctly. Golden State will be a thorn in the side of every team in the West this year, because everyone is sleeping on them, apparently.
Y’all must have forgotten about the Warriors. So, they aren’t the Dubs of a few years ago, and their core players have gotten a little older. Did you see Wardell Stephen Curry torch the league last season? Not only did Curry flame opponents, but he did it while teams were able to key in on him alone as the only real offensive threat on the floor for Golden State. Last year, teams were able to focus on Curry sending multiple defenders at him, and all he did was average 32 points per game and win his second scoring title.
Curry accomplished the highest scoring average of his career without his ace in the backcourt to take pressure off him every night. The Warriors went into each game knowing teams were only worried about Curry, yet they still finished six games above .500. On offense, there was none of the consistent help that Curry’s been used to over the years. Give Steph a little more support on the offensive end, and the Warriors will shoot back up towards the top of the conference.
Enter Klay Thompson, who hasn’t played in an NBA game since 2019.
Back-to-back leg injuries (Achilles and ACL) kept Klay on the sideline for the last two seasons. I think the Warriors will take things slow with Thompson’s comeback, and I don’t expect to see him back on the court before January. Even if that is the case, I think this team can still be in the mix when he returns. No one expects Klay to be what he was before the injuries — which was one of the best two-way players in the NBA. His defensive production may decline some, but the shooter’s touch never leaves you. If Thompson is right, he’ll be able to fill it up for the Warriors.
Having Thompson back on the court means Andrew Wiggins can slide down into a role better suited for him offensively, as a third or fourth option. He may be inconsistent, but if there’s less pressure on Wiggins to score, I think he’ll be more efficient in that part of his game. He also stepped up and showed that he could play defense last season for Golden State.
Don’t forget about Draymond Green leading the defense. Which I still think he’ll be capable of doing at a high level this year. Outside of their core, the Warriors have a young team ready to step up and contribute this season. Jordan Poole is one of the Warriors’ young guns on the roster, and he showed flashes at times last season. In his sophomore season, Poole improved his scoring average by more than three points. And he did this while his average minutes played decreased by three. James Wiseman will also return from injury (at some point), and I expect to see more from him this year once the team works him back into the rotation.
Now, I’m not picking the Warriors to win it all, but I am telling you to watch for them contending for a spot in the Western Conference Finals. I also see the Warriors finishing top four in the West, then making a run from there. The Lakers and the Nuggets (depending on Jamal Murray) are the teams that worry me where the Warriors are concerned. If Kawhi Leonard were healthy, I’d have the Clippers in that group as well. But his return is a bigger mystery than any other player returning from injury. Any other team in the West, I think the Warriors could handle in seven.
So don’t sleep on this group of Warriors just yet. They still have some gas left in the tank, and they’re about to show all the doubters.