The Warriors have made history but not in the way that any of us wanted. Dubbed as "a road trip from hell" by Klay Thompson, the Warriors have now become the first team in the history of the NBA to start 0-6 on the road after a winning season the previous year. Whether it can be attributed to championship hangover or something more serious, the Warriors are in a definite need for a fresh start.
Are There Signs of Locker Room Turmoil?
The Warriors finished last season on a high note, suffocating Celtics on both ends of the floor in the season finale. A relatively quiet offseason saw them lose Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr., and Nemanja Bjelica. James Wiseman’s return from a season-long injury sparked hope but his poor performance has placed him as the worst player in the entire league by FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR metric.
Wiseman received slight criticism from coach Steve Kerr, who stated that "it’s been a tough couple games for James, but I’m a believer." However, Draymond Green was not so subtle when pointing the finger after the Warriors’ loss to Orlando Magic. The veteran forward stated that: "It’s definitely some of our young guys’ fault, but it’s not more their fault than our fault."
"I’m not taking fault away from them. They have to get better."
However, Green himself was part of the one incident that shook the foundation of the fun-loving, up-tempo, and cheerful Warriors culture that thrives from team basketball, by punching young shooting guard Jordan Poole during training camp.
The Warriors decided not to suspend Green over the incident that took place on October 5 and he returned to the court. Current reports state that the team is not engaged in trade talks regarding him.
Did the Incident Jeopardize the Spirit of the Team?
Green faced a massive social media backlash after the video went viral. However, the reactions of the two players differed from each other.
Poole, the 23-year-old who was at the receiving end of the punch, stated: ""He apologized and [was] professional. We plan on handling ourselves that way. We're here to play basketball and everybody on our team and in the locker room knows what it takes to win a championship, and we're going to do that on the court."
However, the 32-year-old Green reflected on the incident saying that he "doesn’t care about people’s opinion" and called the leak of the video "bulls***". When he was asked whether the pair could ever be friends again, he said that it’s not up to him and he doesn’t "think there’s much relevance". He added: "Quite frankly, we both know how to play basketball and that is the most important for us."
Coming into the season, analysts chimed into what such a violent act and the Warrior's handling of it can translate to the court.
What are the Warrior's Odds?
Oddsmakers adjusted the preseason pick slightly for the Warriors, who are still among the top favorites alongside Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, and Phoenix Sun. Team chemistry and performance will become more important for punters in GSW's home state in the new year. As California prepares to vote on legalizing online sports betting, it can be helpful to check out what kinds of limited-time offers are available for Ohioans when the market goes live in the state in early 2023.
Poole’s Contract Extension
Only a couple of days after the incident, Golden State Warriors and Poole agreed to a four-year extension worth $140 million. Some analysts have speculated that the new lucrative extension helped push the lack of suspension to Poole and the team. However, there is no proof that the two are connected.
Poole averages 18.5 points and 4.0 assists in the championship run and has some of the same traits as Steph Curry. Poole has a great handle and three-point range and can distribute the ball.
Playing Complimentary Basketball
Golden State looked inspired in the first few games, and Draymond again plays his role as facilitator to the Warrior's dynamic, high-octane offense. Green and Poole collaborate without glitches on the court, with Draymond dishing a backdoor assist to cutting Poole.
The last concern comes from a lackluster defensive performance at the start of the season. Without grit and team commitment, Warriors opponents are close to 70 points for two quarters which is not sustainable if they want another title run. Perhaps the lack of defense has something to do with the locker room quietly ignoring Draymond Green.
On the other hand, the Warriors may still be looking for a new defensive identity without Gary Payton II and Wiseman returning to the rotation. Coach Kerr also insists on putting Moses Mody on the opponents' best defenders. Moody is a lengthy wing defender and could become a solid replacement for Gary Payton II, who set the tone for the Warriors. So far, Draymond's punch didn't significantly impact the season, but we'll know better in a couple of months.