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Dubs in-depth: ESPN projects Warriors to finish 14th in Western Conference

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Plus more Golden State Warriors news from around the web.

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After two players tested positive for the coronavirus, the Golden State Warriors will resume their preparation for the 2020-21 NBA season. Group workouts will begin on Monday as the Dubs get set to kick off the preseason with a game against the Denver Nuggets on Dec. 12.

Golden State’s title hopes took a significant blow when All-Star guard Klay Thompson suffered an Achilles injury that will sideline him for the season. General manager Bob Myers acted quickly, trading for Kelly Oubre Jr.

The Warriors — who were missing Thompson and Stephen Curry for virtually all of last season — finished the 2019-20 campaign a league-worst 15-50, which enabled the franchise to select James Wiseman No. 2 overall in the 2020 NBA Draft.

With Curry, Oubre, Wiseman and a healthy Draymond Green, most pundits believe the Dubs will get back into the postseason. But, one major media outlet has Golden State stumbling again and finishing second-to-last in the Western Conference.

ESPN’s real plus-minus projections have the Warriors at an average of 31.2 wins and finishing 14th in the conference.

Is it realistic that the Warriors might not be competitive for a playoff spot after Klay Thompson’s Achilles injury ended his 2020-21 season before it started?

The first four games of the 2019-20 season suggest so. Golden State was 1-2 and on its way to a third lopsided loss in four games when Stephen Curry suffered a broken bone in his left hand that sent the Warriors into the tank.

It’s certainly possible the Warriors’ newcomers will outperform projections accumulated without the same kind of talent around them, but Golden State also can’t count on Curry staying healthy. He missed an average of 22 games in 2017-18 and 2018-19, long before the Warriors were worried about draft positioning. Without Curry, projected to play 54 games, Golden State will again be lacking in efficient shot creation.

Before Thompson got hurt, head coach Steve Kerr said he would attempt to limit Steph’s minutes to keep him fresh for the season’s stretch run, but that could change with Klay out of the lineup.

Golden State didn’t look great over Curry’s five games to start the 2019-20 season, but the roster is a lot better now than it was then. Oubre, Wiseman and Andrew Wiggins are a clear upgrade over what the Dubs were trotting on the court alongside Steph last October.

ESPN’s projections could come true, but it’s hard to see how the Warriors will end up behind teams like the Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs in the standings, assuming the best players stay healthy.

The coronavirus will undoubtedly be a factor in the standings. We have seen NFL teams like the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens have players miss games after testing positive, which will more than likely be a reality for some NBA franchises.

ESPN’s projection feels a bit disrespectful to a team which features one Hall of Fame shoo-in (Curry) and one who could be knocking on the door (Green). I think the Warriors will win somewhere between 38 and 44 games to make the playoffs as long as Curry, Green, Oubre and Wiggins don’t miss extended time with injuries.


On to some links:

Can you imagine James Harden playing with the Dubs? According to Shams Charania of The Athletic the Warriors made a call to the Houston Rockets to inquire about a potential Harden trade. (NBC Sports)

Thompson’s injury felt like a gut-punch. Kerr opens up about how the team felt knowing Klay won’t be around again for a second-straight year. (CBS Sports)

Should Golden State make a pitch to acquire Lou Williams from the L.A. Clippers? Fansided’s Nathan Beighle gives three reasons why Myers should pursue the two NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award winner.