The Golden State Warriors open up their 2020-21 NBA regular season schedule tonight against the Brooklyn Nets. Stephen Curry will play in his first official game in more than nine months after injuries kept him out of most of the 2019-20 campaign.
General manager Bob Myers had a busy offseason. His plans for the roster took a massive hit when superstar Klay Thompson suffered an Achilles injury that will keep him out for the entire season.
Still, Myers did well to add some pieces, getting forward Kelly Oubre Jr. from the Phoenix Suns for a protected first-round pick. Myers also added solid depth pieces by signing Brad Wanamaker and Kent Bazemore in free agency.
The other major piece Myers added came via the 2020 NBA Draft. The Dubs selected big man James Wiseman with the second pick, and head coach Steve Kerr anticipates the Memphis product will be the starting center sooner than later.
Where does this leave Golden State in the NBA’s pecking order? ESPN’s Zach Lowe — one of the best writers in the business — released his tiers of where each team fits in the league and has the Warriors among the play-in contenders in the Western Conference.
Lowe mentions how the Dubs’ starting lineup is among the best in the NBA, with Curry, Green, Oubre, Wiseman and Wiggins expected to hold down the spots sooner than later. But, he does see some flaws with the roster:
But Curry is the only shooting threat, and his playmaking partner — Green — has missed the preseason and will miss the opener with a foot injury. James Wiseman hasn’t played yet.
Oubre’s biggest asset — unflappable confidence and decisiveness — should make him a weapon attacking off the catch after Curry bends defenses. Perhaps that bravado will rub off on Wiggins. Both are snazzy cutters.
Brad Wanamaker and Kent Bazemore — and maybe Damion Lee — are the main perimeter bench options to unlock the dreaded Green-at-center alignment. Not exactly prime Andre Iguodala. Is Golden State getting late-Atlanta/Portland Bazemore (who shot below average from deep and was just kinda there) or the one who came alive in Sacramento?
The Green-Eric Paschall duo makes intuitive sense, and might be the pathway to a beefier version of the Green-at-center archetype. (Golden State was minus-98 in 398 minutes with Green and Paschall on the floor last season, but that’s a small sample compiled without Curry.)
But does that lineup type — or any Warriors lineup — have enough shooting? We have seen Curry squeeze points out of punchless lineups, even on the league’s biggest stage. Can he do it all season? How is this team scoring when he sits? What if he gets injured for three weeks?
Lowe’s assessment that Golden State will have a tough time producing points without Curry on the floor has been validated during the preseason. The Warriors struggled to keep pace with Steph on the bench, so it will be on Kerr to stagger the rotation in a way that minimizes the team’s drop in production.
Here is how Lowe has the rest of the Western Conference teams ranked:
1) Los Angeles Lakers (tier of their own)
Real challengers: L.A. Clippers, Denver Nuggets
Have to prove they belong one tier up: Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers
Play-in favorites: Suns
Play-in or bust: Golden State, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans
How do you rank the teams in the Western Conference going into the regular season?
On to some links:
Curry will play against former teammate Kevin Durant for the firs time since KD signed with the Nets. Steph has some kind words for Durant, a player he won two champions with. (SF Chronicle)
Durant and Brooklyn head coach Steve Nash each had stints in the Bay Area. The pair spoke to the media ahead of today’s game and reflected on their time with the Warriors. (Nets Daily)
If you want to get hyped for the tip-off of the new season, NBA TV will be your go-to network. NBA TV will air some of the best moments from opening night over the next few days. You can see the schedule on NBA.com