Here’s something that’s weird to think about: Right now we’re closer to what was supposed to be the final Golden State Warriors game of the year then we are to the actual one, assuming the coronavirus outbreak keeps the NBA regular season from resuming.
Yes, as of Thursday it had been 23 days since the Warriors last played a game, and 22 days since the NBA announced the indefinite suspension of the season. And only 13 days until the Warriors — already eliminated from the playoffs — were set to play their final game of the year.
So what if the coronavirus had never suspended play? What if you were spending your Thursday night with the NBA on TNT on the television, watching Steph Curry battle James Harden and Russell Westbrook, in a battle of MVP guards? What if, rather than lamenting the absence of basketball, you were instead lamenting the impending end of the Warriors season?
That sure would be a nice alternate reality.
Of course, if the Warriors were still playing, there’d be more going on than just the final countdown towards the offseason. There would be a lot of interesting developments going on. Here’s what you’d be watching for.
Stephen freaking Curry
Steph Curry only played five games all season. He was on the court for a mere 139 minutes of action. He made just a dozen three-pointers.
Forget the championships, the records, the accolades, the drama. The most fun thing about the Golden State Warriors, for the last decade, has been watching Wardell Stephen Curry II.
In a mostly lost season, the number one reason you’d be picking up the remote and turning on the TV — well perhaps the number two reason, after your beautiful blind loyalty — is to watch Steph do something magical.
Marquese Chriss’ development
A 22-year old who is already in his fourth NBA season, Marquese Chriss was arguably the best story of the Warriors season. He was a bust after being the eighth overall pick by the Phoenix Suns in 2016, and seemed to have about eight toes out the NBA door when the season began.
But he has played quite well with the Warriors, and worked his way into their long-term plans. Stats don’t tell the whole story — especially since much of Chriss’ growth has taken place on the defensive side of the ball — but just look at the growth across the board:
Points per 100 possessions:
Rebounds per 100 possessions:
Assists per 100 possessions:
Blocks per 100 possessions:
Field goal percentage:
Wow. That’s pretty stark.
Chriss is developing, and developing fast, and seeing how much further he developed over the final games of the season — especially since he’d be alongside Curry — was going to be fun.
The Curry and Wiggins chemistry
The Warriors are banking on Andrew Wiggins being able become productive in more of a supplemental role than he was given with the Minnesota Timberwolves. A lot of that depends on being able to develop chemistry with Curry.
That perhaps wasn’t going to be the most fun part of the final month of the year, but it was going to be the most important. Watching Curry and Wiggins attempt to develop chemistry might be fun, might be fascinating, and might be frustrating.
We’ll have to wait until next year to see, assuming the Warriors don’t trade Wiggins. But had the season been going, we’d all be keeping a close eye on that.
The Warriors seemed locked into one of the three worst records in the league, which would guarantee them a 14% chance at earning the top pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. But there was always a chance that the bump from having Curry on the court would have propelled them out of the cellar.
It’s been a while since Warriors fans have had the chance to root for losses and tank positioning. I’m not sure that’s what anyone wanted, but it would have been interesting at the very least.
Klay Thompson health updates
We know Klay Thompson wasn’t going to return this season, but it was still nice getting updates as the season went on. Thompson was occasionally filmed going through drills and getting up jumpers at practice. The team gave updates on his ACL rehab now and then. The media-shy Thompson even met with reporters on one instance.
Thompson was hoping to be ready to play in the 2020 Olympics, though those are, of course, now pushed back to 2021. Seeing how well he was healing would have brought smiles to the faces of Warriors fans.
If sports were still going on, you probably would have spent some of the Warriors off-nights watching March Madness, and doing your own scouting on players that the Warriors were certainly looking at.
It’s always fun to be a backseat scout. Perhaps more importantly, no players have really separated themselves at the top of the draft, and the NCAA tournament would have given a few players that opportunity. At the very least, it would have gotten you excited about the upcoming draft, even if you knew there was a good chance the Warriors would trade the pick.
One thing is for sure: Things would look a lot different right now if the Warriors were on TV, even if they were still losing.