After a tough 2022-23, one narrative surrounding the Golden State Warriors is that they might not be a championship-caliber team anymore.
I disagree with that narrative. Here are 11 quick reasons why.
1. The vibes are better
Yes, we’re all tired of talking about the stories that won’t end regarding Draymond Green and Jordan Poole. But they keep popping up so we kind of have to keep talking about them.
But reality is clear as day: the vibes were really bad last year. We knew at the time they weren’t quite right, but it’s only now becoming evident as to just how bad they are.
It’s not Warriors propaganda, either. Listen to the beat reporters — in tweets, in articles, and on podcasts — and they’re quick to point out how dysfunctional last year was. Those close to the team knew, and kept it from becoming a national story until the primary actors — Green and Poole — were no longer teammates.
It’s abundantly clear that Poole was annoying and upsetting the locker room, even before the punch. It’s painfully obvious that Green did irreparable damage with his right fist. It’s absolutely blatant that there was a disconnect between the youngsters and the vets.
The Warriors have always thrived on good vibes. Even when Andre Iguodala didn’t want to be a bench player. Even when Iguodala and Andrew Bogut were being snarky to everyone. Even when David West was cryptically referring to issues behind the scenes. For that matter, even when Kevin Durant was exiling himself from the media and the team, everyone understood how to lock that away at game time. Last year’s team didn’t have that.
Presumably this year’s team will.
2. They’re rested
The Warriors were eliminated in May. The season before, they raised a trophy in mid-June. That’s a season that’s roughly five weeks shorter, which means an offseason that’s roughly five weeks longer. An additional month-plus of recovery time plus nine fewer games of wear and tear? That’s meaningful for any team, but it’s extra meaningful for a team whose four Hall of Famers are well into their 30s.
3. The eliteness remains
There is an odd narrative surrounding the Warriors, that last year’s disappointing campaign has the team a long ways away from returning to glory. There is a question as to whether they still have a championship core.
Their starting five of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Green, and Kevon Looney was the best bulk-minutes five-man lineup in the NBA last year, outscoring teams by 21.9 points per 100 possessions .... no five-player lineup with more than 75 minutes performed better. The next best lineup to do so with 300-plus minutes was the world-champion Denver Nuggets starting lineup, which outscored teams by “just” 13.1 points per 100 possessions.
The Dubs also had the best net rating in the Western Conference in the second half of the season, despite Wiggins only playing 13 games.
The challenge for Golden State this year isn’t about how they add things to get to a championship level. It’s about how they remove the things that brought them down from the championship level that very clearly was in them the whole time.
4. A second unit
Whether or not Chris Paul will start will no doubt be a huge discussion point when training camp rolls around, but we know one thing: when Curry and Paul are both healthy, the Warriors will have one of them on the court at all times.
Paul may not be the player he once was, but he’s still extremely good, and can score, pass, and most importantly, lead a unit. He’s still just a year removed from being an All-Star and an All-NBA player.
It’s no secret that the Warriors struggled mightily when Curry was off the court last year, particularly on offense. That’s about to change.
5. Fewer turnovers
The one Achilles heel for the Warriors over the last decade has been the turnovers. Now they’re adding Paul, one of the greatest ball-control point guards in NBA history.
Don’t believe me? Try this on for a stat: Paul has played well over 11,000 more minutes than Curry in his career, with just 111 more turnovers. He has nearly 600 fewer turnovers than Steve Nash, in just a few thousand more minutes. Even a non-point guard star like Kevin Durant has about 250 more career turnovers in more than 5,000 fewer minutes.
Prepare to pull your hair out less frequently.
You know how badly Paul wants a first ring. And you know how badly Curry wants to pass LeBron James in total rings. And you know how badly Green wants to prove that the issue last year was Poole, not him. And you know how motivated Klay is to shut up the people calling for him to be benched. And you know how much Wiggins wants to get back on top after last year.
This will be a highly-motivated team.
7. Third-year leaps
Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga are entering their third seasons, and their age-21 seasons. That’s a pretty reasonable time to expect them to start shedding the raw prospect label, and start becoming smart, disciplined, high-quality players. We started to see it in the playoffs with Moody, and the general consensus is that Paul will play a huge role in helping Kuminga ... something I strongly agree with.
8. Defensive fluidity
The Warriors replaced one of the worst perimeter defenders (Poole) with a very, very good one (Paul). CP3 may no longer be All-Defense good, but he’s still very strong. And after only having Gary Payton II for a handful of games last year, they now get him for a full season.
The Warriors can play so many unique lineups this season given the flexibility provided by Paul, Payton, and Wiggins’ on-ball defense, mixed with Green and Looney’s interior defense.
9. Dario Šarić
Remember everything you loved about Nemanja Bjelica when the Warriors won a title in 2022? Double that and add defense. And now you have Dario Šarić.
10. New looks
The Warriors will be able to throw a greater amount of different looks at defenses this year, something Curry called for when the season ended. Steve Kerr is not quite as allergic to running different schemes as people think ... he ended last year running a ton of high pick-and-roll (which fans were clamoring for), and he posted up James Wiseman way more than the fanbase would lead you to believe.
Paul gives them the opportunity to run a whole lot of different pick-and-roll looks, while Trayce Jackson-Davis could potentially provide some interesting rim-running looks now that he’s shown to be a good fit in the system.
11. Steph Curry
Need I say more?