After a disastrous 2019-20 season, the Golden State Warriors aim to bounce back in the competitive Western Conference. Stephen Curry returns in full strength. Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green also return to the starting frontcourt. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Brad Wanamaker are key additions to help support the backcourt and No. 2 pick James Wiseman should have an impact.
The Warriors had a solid offseason business-wise but were, unfortunately, bit by the bad luck bug once again. The devastating injury to Klay Thompson alters gameplans and rotations, especially after receiving many question marks on their offseason. Golden State is back, but not at an easy cost in a stacked Western Conference.
Golden State Warriors 2020-21 Season Preview
2019-20 Season Review
The Warriors had a poor season primarily due to injuries. Thompson tore his ACL and missed a full year, while Curry battled with a season-ending wrist injury, and Green struggled on a depleted team (tough winning on an injured team). After winning three NBA Finals in five years, Golden State finished with a 15-50 record in 2020. They were also unable to truly settle into their new home, Chase Center, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, there were a few silver linings. The injuries to Thompson and Curry paved way for Mychal Mulder, Damion Lee, and Jordan Poole, who all showed their versatility and length. Wiggins only played in 12 games last season but will have a bigger role with Thompson out for the year. The 2020 season showed that the Warriors’ bench is ready for tipoff, especially with Curry and Thompson back.
A young, but solid bench combined with two championship players give Golden State some hope to excel this season and return to the postseason.
Heading into the 2020-21 season, the Warriors were one of the favorites to win the NBA Finals. While Thompson’s Achilles injury significantly reduces their chances for a ring, Golden State showed why they are home to one of the best front offices in basketball. In the sports business, particularly operations, there is more to front office work than just draft picks and free agency. This offseason demonstrated that.
Due to the Warriors’ injury-plagued 2019-20 season, they landed the second overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft Lottery. Golden State continues to have many strengths, but one issue is size. Drafting Wiseman demonstrated that the Warriors mean business. The news of Thompson’s injury also broke out on draft night, leaving the front office scrambling to fill his roster spot. Due to his injury, the Warriors were granted a $9.3 million Disabled Player Exception to help acquire more pieces. While Oubre will not replace Thompson’s offensive efficiency, especially behind the arc, his size and athleticism give Golden State another wing option next to Wiggins.
The Warriors also added pieces in their backcourt to help take some load off of Curry. They used part of their mid-level exception as they acquired Oubre to sign Wanamaker. He is a solid defender who can knock down open threes and is a no-nonsense veteran player the Warriors need. Kent Bazemore’s return to the Bay Area gives Golden State another solid veteran who can knock down essential three-point shots and defend multiple positions.
Besides that, the Warriors also had a solid draft. On top of drafting Wiseman, Golden State selected University of Arizona guard Nico Mannion, who will not play a big role this season, but could serve as Curry’s backup in the future due to his rare form of playmaking ability.
The Importance of Health and Consistency
As with any team, health and consistency will play a huge role for the Warriors. They were hit hard with the injury bug last season and a unique offseason could play a factor, despite not playing in a regular-season game since March. A big key to watch is how Wiseman develops in Golden State’s offense, which relies on off-ball screens and passing to multiple teammates before shooting. If he can adjust to a quick-tempo offense, the Curry-Wiseman duo will be hard to defend and fun to watch.
Green has also had his share of lingering injuries. Despite a somewhat reduced role last season, he is the X-factor for the Warriors this year simply because of Thompson’s absence. If he is consistent and can shoot at least 34 percent from behind the arc, Golden State will excel because of the lack of shooting as a team.
Golden State Warriors 2020-21 Season Prediction
Thompson’s injury significantly decreases the Warriors’ chances of bringing the Larry O’Brien trophy back to San Francisco. However, they still have several assets and money from the Disabled Player Exception to add a new player. The Warriors are no strangers to making big moves in the middle of the season. The trades and signings will help the Warriors enough to compete in the postseason. At best, their experience and roster versatility will earn them the sixth seed in the Western Conference. However, a more realistic finish is the seventh seed simply due to the Western Conference’s overall strength and competition.
Golden State Warriors 2020-21 Season Prediction: 40-32, seventh in the West
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