The Golden State Warriors were already in a precarious position sitting at 14-16 when Steph Curry injured his shoulder 2 games ago. Their record put them at 11th in the West, out of even the play in the game. That’s even with Curry having a bounce-back MVP type of individual season so far they were still struggling as one of the worst teams in the West. Now Curry will miss some extended time (weeks) and the Warriors will have to try to stay afloat enough to even get into the playoffs while Curry comes back.
This is quite a drastic turnaround for the defending champions, and who many picked to repeat. Between the preseason drama and just how poorly they have played this looks more like the Warriors from 2 seasons ago. That Warriors team didn’t make it out of the play in. It’s surprising to me and what is even more surprising is how the core Warriors of Curry, and Draymond, are playing compared to last season and they are still losing. If there was going to be slippage I really thought it would come from the aging Warriors.
Not only has that not happened but it’s also been nearly the opposite. We all know how well Curry played in the playoffs but most forget how bad the regular season was by Curry’s standards. The greatest shooter ever shot .38% from three the worst mark by far of his career. He had previously never shot under .411% from three in a full season. After the playoffs and the start to this season he had certainly quelled those concerns of decline and was in the midst of turning in a 30ppg, 6.6rpg, 6.8apg 26.7 PER vintage season nearly at the age of 35. This after a 25.5ppg, 5.2rpg, 6.2apg 21.4 PER worst individual season in a decade. That’s what makes it so troubling if you are a Warriors fan, even getting that from your best players you are this bad.
As you can see in the fundamentals the Warriors defense has slipped greatly this season. The offense driven by Curry has actually been better. Klay Thompson’s numbers have slipped some offensively, but his defense wasn’t the same anyway post injuries. Dryamond seems to have lost some but much of this defensive decline seems to be coming from the minutes the Warriors have lost from O. Porter and Gary Payton Jr and other older, real NBA players in the rotation that played hard and smart. (Bjelica, Toscano-Anderson, Lee) Trying to replace that run with G league-level young players hasn’t worked. I think you have to pick a direction at this point.
We’ve talked about trying to turn Mood, Wiseman, and Kuminga into a real NBA starter-level players.
At this point, they just need some decent rotation players. That seems to be the biggest difference between this season and last season for veteran rotation players. I thought it was time to trade them a month ago. With this injury, it’s really at a point if the Warriors do nothing they might not have a chance to even make the playoffs when Curry comes back. That would be a wasted year for what, to try to develop Wiseman?
The Warriors need to be giving Curry every chance possible while he’s still playing at this level, even if that means just turning them into NBA veteran rotation players. The Warriors were able to win last night but it took a 43 point game from Jordan Poole to barely beat a 13-17 Raptors team. Poole needs to earn his money in this next month with Curry out, but you can’t expect many if any more games like this.
The Warriors are at 25-67 without Curry for the last 3 seasons. The team still needs just quality NBA bodies at this point to try to survive this next month with one of the hardest remaining strengths of schedules in the NBA. They need them now just to hope to even have a chance to make the playoffs. I don’t think light years ahead teams sit on their hands and waste what could be the final great season of Curry. The history of players performing this well at 35 years old is a very short list. The time is now or probably never.