Can The Warriors Be Champions Again This Year?
By JC Carlston
With the Warriors set to open the season tonight against the Kevin Durant led Brooklyn Nets on the TNT opening night slate, the uphill battle of returning to championship form begins for Curry and the boys. As the Bay Area and the basketball world all know by now, the Warriors will be without their second sharpshooter and Splash Brother Klay Thompson for the second straight season due to a torn achilles. This has opened the floor for two young stars in Kelly Oubre and Andrew Wiggins to step up and shine on the wings. Anything short and the Warriors could be in for another long season as their offensive threat is key to freeing up Curry in the offense. Warriors owner Joe Lacob put his money where his mouth is when he shelled out 82 million to acquire Oubre with 14.4 mill going to Oubre and an insane 68 million of that going towards this season’s luxury tax. That’s Jay-Z Queen B money.
Steph appears to be in mid season swing averaging 22.7 points in limited preseason action. Oubre showed why the Warriors were eager to sign him at any cost with strong defense and a gem of a game in the final preseason tune up going 4-6 from 3 and dropping in 22 of his own. Wiggins returning for his second year with the Dubs will benefit from Oubre and a healthy Steph taking the focus off of him and allowing him to be a third option in the offense. Draymond Green the Sass from Saginaw who missed the preseason due to a positive covid test came to camp much slimmer and full of energy. We always know what to expect from Draymond, do you boo.
Thanks to the dumpster fire that was the 2019-2020 campaign, that netted only 15 wins, the Warriors landed James Wisemen with the second overall pick in the NBA draft. While Wiseman hasn’t seen any on court action, he has been showing why the Warriors drafted him number 2 overall, demonstrating excellent rim protection as well as athletic ability, and throwing down lobs from one Draymond Green in practice. Draymond has become Wiseman’s official mentor so you already know the kid has a motor and toughness. While Kevon Looney will be expected to get the nod in the season opener, don’t be surprised if you see the young 19 year old in that starting center position at tipoff. The other two draft picks coming in the second round were Nico Mannion PG from Arizona and sharp shooter Justinian Jessup, who is currently fulfilling his contract in the Australian Pro League, look promising for the future. Jessup in his Australian debut dropped in 24 going 10-19 from the field and 4-9 from beyond the arc. While Nico wasn’t shooting the lights out in preseason play, he showed promising court awareness and the ability to move the ball.
Speaking of point guards, let’s get to the bench which looks very different this go around. This year’s bench is much younger and faster which will make for exciting basketball if not anything else. The Warriors signed free agent point guard Brad Wanamaker who had a productive year for the Celtics and looks to be a solid backup to Steph. Eric Paschall who returns after being a bright spot for the Warriors in his rookie season looks to build on last year’s run filling a much needed bench role behind Draymond. Jordan Poole who is slightly buried on the depth chart will be leaned on for key minutes when they are provided to him. The dreadlockless Jordan showed he could provide bench depth with a .524 field goal percentage in the preseason. Sharing those minutes will be Steph Curry’s brother in law Damian Lee who has shown us over the years that he is more than capable of coming off the bench and giving an offensive spark. Kent Bazemore who left the Dubs in 2014 is back as a veteran presence primarily backing up Oubre on the wing. Marquese Chris is a dude who can bring the energy on both ends of the floor. The ultimate project and fan favorite, Alen Smailagic, rounds out the bench with Mychal Mulder.
This is a very young Warriors team thin on veterans but not leadership. I expect a fastbreaking product that is going to be exciting to watch. The 6th seed looks like a solid goal at this point and I would deem that a highly successful season. If you were hoping to see a Durant/Draymond love fest you are going to have to wait as Dray is out with a foot injury. I am not sure what this season will bring but I am here for all of it.
For a more in depth bench look with nerdy numbers check JC Carlston at 3rdandkingsports.com