Can a healthy Golden State Warriors squad establish itself as NBA title contenders once again?
The 2019-2020 NBA season has been a humbling one for the Golden State Warriors.
After five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals from 2015-2019, the Warriors found themselves at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, mainly due to injuries to superstar backcourt Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, as well as the departure of another superstar, Kevin Durant.
You know the old saying: what goes up must come down.
But for the Warriors, does reaching rock bottom simply represent an opportunity for them to climb back to the top of the mountain?
Thompson, for one, thinks so.
Klay says the Warriors aren't done 😤 pic.twitter.com/Upz7d4ds8x
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 6, 2020
Thompson expanded upon his thoughts in his mini-documentary Above The Waves, which details his rehab from a torn ACL suffered, which he suffered in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals.
He’s eager for the Warriors comeback, as well as his individual comeback.
“I have so much more to give this game, but patience definitely builds character. You don’t have to prove anything anymore, you know? You have three championships. Multiple All-Star appearances. I’ll just be that eager to prove everyone wrong again.”
— klay thompson (@KlayThompson) May 6, 2020
Based on the past five years, it’s easy to see why Thompson feels this way. When he and Curry have shared the floor, magical things have happened, including winning an NBA title in 2015, before Durant arrived.
If there was a silver lining to Golden State’s struggles this season, it’s that the Warriors will likely be adding a top five pick – maybe the No. 1 pick – into the mix heading into next season, considering their 15-50 record is the worst in the NBA.
But does a healthy Splash Brothers backcourt, mixed with a young newcomer, spell an automatic return to NBA title contention?
Nick Wright doesn’t believe the addition of a top rookie will help the Warriors in the near future, and that the current surplus of youth on the roster will actually be a hinderance in getting back to the NBA’s mountaintop.
“Their non-starters under contract are Jordan Poole, Ky Bowman, Eric Paschall, Alan Smailagic, and Marquese Chriss. Not exactly strength in numbers. Now as far as these draft picks, here is a fact about the NBA: rookies don’t help you in the playoffs and young players almost never help you in the playoffs.”
"Who is the last young player to be a real difference maker on a champion? Dwyane Wade? … By the time [the draft picks] can help Steph will be 36, 37 years old. And one thing we know about Steph is he ain't LeBron James. It was a great run but the run is over." — @getnickwright pic.twitter.com/APKRkwHaZt
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) May 7, 2020
While rookies aren’t normally major contributors on title-contending teams – Derrick Rose is the last No. 1 pick to take his team to the playoffs back in 2009, and Tim Duncan is the last No. 1 pick to win a playoff series, back in 1998 – the Warriors are apparently looking to bolster their frontcourt. Reports suggest the Warriors are eyeing Memphis freshman James Wiseman.
The 7’1, 235-pound Wiseman was the No. 1 player coming out of high school a year ago, and averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in three games last season before being declared ineligible by the NCAA.
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) April 28, 2020
If the Warriors do land one of the top picks, they will also have the option of trading the pick for a more proven veteran, one who might be better suited to help a team with championship aspirations.
One of the names that has been floated around as a potential trade target is Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon.
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 6, 2020
Even with questions surrounding the Warriors’ direction, there are still those who believe they can make a run at a title when healthy, including Chris Broussard.
“Their days of being the favorite, certainly the definitive favorite, are over. However, could I see the Warriors winning another championship in the next three years? Definitely. I’m not saying I’m picking them, but they have a chance within the next three years to win a title.”
"The Warriors have a chance, within the next 3 years, to win a title. They will be a contender. Steph and Klay will come back as good as ever, if not a little bit better." — @Chris_Broussard pic.twitter.com/KRC5wIc7gX
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) May 7, 2020
Warriors forward Draymond Green, like Broussard, believes that Golden State’s track record speaks for itself.
Draymond speaks candidly on the Big Three Warriors. pic.twitter.com/ype543jK4l
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 26, 2020
With Curry, Thompson and Green back together, can Draymond’s words once again ring true?