Aww, is it tough being a Warriors fan?
Step back for a second and look around. Yeah the team is struggling, but we have Curry, Klay, Draymond, Looney, etc.
Let’s get something out of the way: it’s a little bit rough right now for the Golden State Warriors. After a strong push in his absence, the team has dropped three straight with the return of mega star Stephen Curry. This afternoon they get the pleasure of smashing into the Milwaukee Bucks - and their NBA-best record. They’ve got problems of their own, given that their big star, Giannis Antetokounmpo, is questionable; but this is going to be another tough one for the Warriors.
But looking around this roster, I find that I can’t rule this team all the way out.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (34-33) at Milwaukee Bucks (48-18)
WHEN: Saturday, March 11th, 2023 // 5:30pm PDT
WATCH: ABC; ESPN2
Down but definitely not out. Hold the rope!
Keep your heads up, Dub Nation. The Golden State Warriors do not suck. Are they great? Absolutely not. Certainly not compared to the peak of the dynasty, but by pretty much any objective measure, this team has turned a season that can be described by people of all generations as “mid” at best.
But the Warriors are far from out. The inertia certainly doesn’t seem to favor another run to a championship, but repeat or not, this is a team of champions. Is it so far fetched to hold out faith that the core of this team could flip a switch in the playoffs?
To be clear, it would be a pretty major flip. Andrew Wiggins is dealing with something heavy. Gary Payton is maaaaybe going to be ready for the playoffs. Curry, Green, and Thompson have been in and out of the lineup to varying degrees. Poole, Kuminga and some of the role players have flipped back and forth between good and detrimental all season. The Warriors are (of course) smack dab in the middle of the league when it comes to Net Rating: 15th out of the 30 teams. Pedestrian. A .500 (or so) team.
But not wretched. No, for those of us that have stared long and hard at the bottom of the barrel, I can attest that this is nowhere near rock bottom. It might be bad, but it could be a lot worse. Sure, there are some dead roster spots, and the gambles haven’t paid off, mostly.
Both Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole have shown flashes of dominance this season, but it’s the consistency that has been the biggest concern. There’s an alarming lack of cohesion - even as Thompson won the team multiple games, it feels more like carrying than a group effort. I’m not saying that championship teams can’t throw the ball away in unforced errors like this play below, but it feels way too frequent. At this point in the season, it’s not that teams can’t - they shouldn’t be making mistakes like throwing the ball into empty space.
Looking at the rosters from this season to last season, it’s not like the annual drop off is super shocking. Some of the top rotation players are gone. Otto Porter was 5th on the team in regular season minutes last ear, Damion Lee was 7th, Payton was 8th and Bjelica, Toscano-Anderson, and Klay all played significant bench roles.
This year, the list of reliable players goes maybe seven deep? Look at the stacked comparison here. This season on the left, and last year is on the right. Pay attention in particular to the bottom half of the minutes allotment.
Okay, boo hoo. Did you get the sadness out? Stare long and hard at the names that are missing. Otto Porter, Damion Lee and a whole lot more of Wiggins and Cirry would have helped a ton.
But now look at the top of those rotations. What do you see? A bunch of champions, that’s what I see. No, I definitely wouldn’t put money on this team to win it all at this point, but damn if I’m ready to give up on a team led by Stephen Curry.
There’s a lot to fix. But there’s a lot here. And I've rooted for way less.
I’m going to a punk rock show. And I predict that I won’t lose hope in this Warriors team, no matter what happens. That said, they’ll probably win.
We got Curry and a bunch of other guys.