The Golden State Warriors head into this season with lofty expectations with the potential return of Klay Thompson. He has missed the last two NBA seasons due to injuries. Thompson’s absence has been felt by the Warriors and his return should provide a boost to this team.
Golden State Warriors Season Preview
Recap of Last Season
Last season was an absolute roller coaster ride for Golden State. Many fans were expecting the return of the strong Golden State backcourt after they dealt with injuries the season before. About a month before the season started last year, Thompson tore his Achilles and missed a second consecutive season. This placed a lot more burden on their superstar point guard in Stephen Curry.
Fortunately for the Warriors, Curry was healthy for most of the season, but the absence of James Wiseman (their second overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft) and Kelly Oubre due to injuries towards the end of the season reduced their bench depth. He led the Warriors to a 39-33 record during the regular season and earned the eighth seed in the loaded Western Conference. However, the seventh through tenth seeds in each conference had to play in the new Play-In Tournament and it is something that is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
During the Play-In Tournament, the Warriors drew the seventh seed Los Angeles Lakers and fell to them by three points. The Lakers earned the seventh seed and the Warriors played the winner of the ninth and tenth seed matchup. Golden State fell to the Memphis Grizzlies in overtime at home during their second play-in game thus ending their season. The Grizzlies earned the eighth seed and moved on to the Playoffs.
Despite Curry’s Herculean efforts, the Warriors couldn’t quite make it to the Playoffs. He had one of his best individual seasons without Thompson and finished third in MVP voting. Curry averaged a career-high 32 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per contest. This included a career-high 62-point game for the two-time MVP.
The Warriors had a successful offseason this year with their two lottery picks and some nice free-agent signings. They drafted Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody with the seventh and 14th overall picks in the 2021 NBA Draft. They’ve also added some extra shooters to space the floor with the acquisitions of Nemanja Bjelica and Otto Porter. Another key offseason signing was the former NBA Finals MVP with Golden State in Andre Iguodala. His chemistry with their key players is a boost along with his veteran presence. He was a part of the Warriors’ old “death lineup”.
Key departures for the Warriors this offseason were Kelly Oubre and Kent Bazemore. Oubre signed with the Charlotte Hornets and Bazemore signed with the Lakers during free agency. Nico Mannion, their second-round pick in last year’s draft has also left the Warriors. He will continue his basketball career in Italy. The Warriors are now working out several players to fill their final roster spot.
Expectations For This Season
After a season where the Warriors relied heavily on Curry without a consistent second option, the return of Thompson could fill that void. It remains to be seen as to how well he’ll be able to play after suffering such gruesome injuries. The Warriors were great on the defensive end last season but were lacking offensively. The Warriors will have Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green in their starting lineup as well. Wiggins had a solid season as he made improvements on defense and Green made another All-Defensive Team. Furthermore, Green added another gold medal this offseason playing for Team USA.
As for Thompson and Wiseman, they’ll participate in this training camp and make their returns at some point during the season. They’ll likely have Kevon Looney start at center as Wiseman works his way back into shape. When the Warriors are at full strength, they are expected to make a deep playoff run. After all, they have players with the heart of a champion.
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