Warriors Glass Cannon of a season kicks off with Media Day full of intrigue
Andrew Wiggins refusal of vaccination sets a collision course with the schedule, but it sure is nice to see the team again
“If they’re healthy…”
In video game parlance, a Glass Cannon is a dangerous - but fragile - weapon or hero. The Golden State Warriors are poised to return to the playoffs this year… if a few critical factors line up. The glass got a bit more brittle today, as it appears as if Andrew Wiggins is likely to miss portions of the season due to refusing the Covid vaccine.
We also learned that Klay Thompson is more likely back in January than December, and that a beefier, more experienced James Wiseman will almost certainly miss some of the early season. And over all of this, hung the shadow of Wiggins’ vaccine refusal, which will hold him out of all home games.
All of that said, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala are expected to be featured heavily in the Golden State Warrior’s closing minutes once the season draws to a close. That’s not a bad position to be in, and one that makes a lot of the little details surrounding this team to be trivial.
Combined, it was a day that highlighted both the promise of this team - returning Andre Iguodala and Thompson alongside Stephen Curry and Draymond Green - as well as the difficult path it will take to reach their previous heights.
Waiting on the return of Klay Thompson and hoping for James Wiseman to catch up quickly when he returns from his season-ending surgery, the Warriors and their fans kicked off the 2021-2022 campaign yesterday - and it was awesome.
Be sure to check out the Warriors’ Soundcloud account, where they have uploaded high quality audio of all the interviews for your listening enjoyment.
The Wiggins situation
Man, I really wish I wasn’t writing about this. I cannot wait for the return of a time where some strangers personal health decisions are meaningless to me. Instead, here we are. Due to some Byzantine San Francisco regulation, Wiggins (apparently the lone vaccination holdout amongst the Warriors) will not be allowed to play at Chase.
Here’s the full exchange where Wiggins reiterates his desire to not get vaccinated, despite the vaccine being safe and effective. For me, the hardest parts are that he could miss significant time, and he also isn’t really delivering a ton of explanation here, telling Marcus Thompson that it’s “private” and stating that “it’s none of your business” when given the opportunity to explain his rationale.
Though apparently San Francisco could make their rule apply to visiting teams, at this point, only the home team will be impacted. So now Wiggins’ desires for privacy are out the window. If he can’t play home games, it will be a very visible and impactful reminder of the consequences of his decision.
This sucks. As much as I’d love to stay out of Wiggins’ business on this, it sets up the team to find themselves even further behind the curve when Thompson returns. It also heightens the pressure on the remaining team that will already be playing short-handed until Thompson and Wiseman return. The team plays 19 home games, and 16 away games through the end of December (Thompson’s targeted return date).
Complicating matters, Curry was somewhat terse in his response when asked about the situation, and would later be vociferous in his answer regarding the Warriors use of all roster assets (he’s strongly in favor of using the MLE, and final roster spots).
Wiggins’ comments were also at odds with General Manager Bob Myers and coach Steve Kerr. The former said that he was “optimistic” that Wiggins would be available, the latter said that he “expected” everyone to be available - neither offering much basis for this faith. If Wiggins can’t play half of the team’s games this year, it’s a big deal.
But enough about that.
Let that frustration roll off your back like water - Klay has returned!
Like a wizened sage emerging from a pilgrimage, Thompson has noticeably changed during his time away from the NBA.
It’s been a long time.
Thompson went down with a torn ACL back in June of 2019, and then did his achilles tendon in the tail end of his rehab from that. All told, it will end up being about two and-a-half years before he steps back into an NBA game.
At this point, he’s doing limited non-contact work and is expected to return around January.
So now the Warriors enter training camp.
They’ve got the top end talent required to compete at the highest levels, but between Wiseman, Thompson, and Wiggins, will need to figure out how to plug a few holes in the depth chart.
Without Wiseman, the Warriors will be playing a lot of small ball, and likely leaning on their rookies more than would be ideal. With an amalgamation of veterans and rookies here, as well as some promising, but unproven free agents, this is going to be a wild ride. The team will have to figure out how to win now, and develop for the future - but this is something they’ve done before.
Golden State will start their preseason schedule next Monday, when they take on the Portland Trail Blazers. For now, the team will be working on figuring each other out, and seeing what they have. The depth chart is still a bit up in the air… but we’ll be back with more on that tomorrow.
For now, we wait. And we hope.