Golden State Warriors: Title Favorite to Dark Horse

Before the year began, a few betting sites listed the Golden State Warriors as favorites to win the title once again. As they sit just a couple of games above .500 (26-24) close to the All-Star break, how do the Warriors stack up as title contenders in 2023?

Golden State Warriors: Title Favorite to Dark Horse

Despite winning their seventh championship in 2022, the Golden State Warriors haven’t come up much (recently) when discussing Finals contenders in 2023. Similar to other Western Conference foes, the Dubs have struggled with consistency all year long.

Whether due to inner turmoil, roster turnover, injuries, or otherwise, things haven’t clicked (yet) like they did during their impressive finish back in June. Superstar Stephen Curry has missed 15 games, and Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson have also been in and out of the lineup.

To make matters more interesting, Golden State is currently experimenting with a smaller starting five, one that features super-sub Jordan Poole at the two, with Kevon Looney sliding to the bench. Instead of solely featuring that group as a late-game option, Coach Steve Kerr has switched to it as a means to shake things up and build momentum for a push toward the top of the West.

A Lack of Roster Depth?

At the end of the day, is Golden State’s season capped by a lack of roster depth? With Poole now in the starting lineup, the onus is on the aforementioned Looney, Jonathan Kuminga , and Donte DiVincenzo, in particular, to maintain strong play off the bench. Beyond them, however, let’s take a quick look at some of the roster:

The regression of second-year players Moses Moody (currently in the G League) and James Wiseman (currently out of the rotation) is notable.

Free agent acquisition JaMychal Green has underperformed. Two-way players Anthony Lamb and Ty Jerome have filled in well but aren’t guaranteed to see big minutes come postseason time.

There hasn’t been a consistent combination for Coach Kerr to lean on when starters rest – and after losing both Gary Payton II & Otto Porter Jr. in the offseason, defensive personnel isn’t the same (GSW allows 118 ppg to opposing teams). That said, all is never lost when you have a talent like Steph, a core group used to winning, and a Coach like Kerr who isn’t afraid to try something different if things aren’t working.

The Last Word on Golden State’s 2023 Title Chances

For Golden State to capture another title in 2023, a few changes might need to happen.

First, the Dubs must explore a trade that includes a young player like Wiseman or Moody to acquire another reliable big. This would add flexibility as a starting option and would limit Looney and Green’s minutes down the stretch of the season.

Secondly, Coach Kerr, who’s liable to extend his rotation to 10-11 players on any given night, MUST consider limiting it to around eight or nine. The rotation might have to max out with Curry-Poole-Thompson-Wiggins-Green-Looney-DiVincenzo-Kuminga.

And lastly, the defending champs need to start taking care of business on the road. Their record of 7-18 away from Chase Center just won’t cut it.

A few weeks from now, Golden State may find some momentum and vault near the top of the conference. Similarly, everything could remain the same, and they could fall into a middling standing as a sixth or seventh-place squad hovering near the play-in. The Western Conference is that packed and unpredictable this year.

Either way, it’s impossible to call the Warriors anything but a “dark horse” in 2023. Maybe it’s right where they want to be, though: after all, it worked out perfectly just a few months ago.