The Golden State Warriors are in a nightmare scenario. Steph Curry’s broken hand will keep him out for three months, Klay Thompson may not play this season. Andre Iguodala and Kevin Durant are on other teams. Their depth is arguably the worst in the NBA.
Draymond Green has been frank about their struggles, and a short-term future that could be very ugly. At the end of a dynasty, a run of five consecutive NBA Finals appearances, teams are usually in a much worse spot than the Warriors are, however. This team might be set for pain in 2019/20, but there are reasons for hope in 2020/21.
First of all, the construction of their dominant roster meant they didn’t have to clear out all future assets. Durant arrived in free agency, Curry, Thompson and Green were all drafted. They will not have to send their first-round pick to Brooklyn.
The Warriors have their first-round selections for the foreseeable future, enabling them to pad out their roster with fresh talent or use them to make trades to improve the group around Curry, D’Angelo Russell, Thompson and Green in 2020/21.
That core alone would be very competitive. Solid drafting – who knows where they’ll end up in the 2020 NBA Draft – could bolster the cast around that quartet. Rumours of a Russell trade will bubble along all year – it’s possible he’s on a different team by the start of next season, giving Golden State more assets.
It’s an unusual situation Bob Myers finds himself in. After a run like this, a deep rebuild is meant to begin. New, long-term contracts for Green and Thompson, and the arrival of Russell, contribute to some unique circumstances. Most franchises in ‘win-now’, as the Warriors were for the last five years, end up flipping future picks to enhance their title chances. Golden State never did that, partly because they didn’t need to.
Players have shown a willingness to move around the league for a number of reasons. Success, and the culture built by Myers and Steve Kerr, has seen Curry, Green and Thompson stay put. While the trio are all vastly experienced now, they still have at least a couple more seasons of their primes to go. And that’s, perhaps crucially, without the distraction of upcoming free agency.
The Warriors are heading to the lottery in 2019/20, but don’t be surprised to see them – assuming all their stars are healthy – competing at the top of the Western Conference in the 2020/21 season.