As of Thursday, Feb. 18, the Golden State Warriors have a 15 and 13 record. Last year’s Warriors ended the season 15 and 50, which shows the massive roster improvement they made in the off-season, as well as how much of a difference Stephen Curry makes for the team. That said, facing a stacked Western Conference, the Dubs need to make some significant changes if they hope to make the playoffs, let alone be title contenders.
One of the biggest problems the Warriors have exhibited so far is a lack of consistent rebounding. As the season moves forward, one can assume last season’s second overall draft pick, rookie James Wiseman, will get more minutes and improve his rebounding. So far this season, Wiseman has played in 16 of 29 games and only averaged 21 minutes with six rebounds per game. Wiseman is currently out with a wrist injury, but when he comes back the Warriors are going to have to increase his time on the court to find success rebounding the ball.
Another problem facing the team is a lack of shooting, apart from Curry. The team needs to be able to consistently knock down open three-pointers on a nightly basis if they hope to compete. On Feb. 13 against the Brooklyn Nets, the Warriors shot a very poor nine for 34 from beyond the arc. Players like Kelly Oubre and Andrew Wiggins have had some great shooting nights but just as often have struggled to find the net.
It is clear that the Warriors are very much missing Steph Curry’s splash brother, Klay Thompson. Without Thompson the team not only loses the second best shooter of all time but also misses his amazing perimeter defense. When Thompson was healthy, the majority of the time he was the guy assigned to guard the opposing team’s best player. It seems Andrew Wiggins has now been put in that position, but despite his skills as a spot-up shooter and elite defender, Wiggins can’t match his predecessor. Wiggins does a stellar job of driving to the basket and dunking, but that is not exactly what the Warriors need. As opposing teams put most of their attention on guarding Steph Curry, players like Oubre and Wiggins will need to hit from the three-point range, otherwise it’s going to be a long season.
Many suspect the Warriors could elevate their play by trading Draymond Green. Green is very unlikely to be traded considering how good of a playmaker he is. He can create so many three pointers for Curry and plays elite defense in the post. Even if the team did trade him, it would not be the right move. The only scenario that could lead to him or Wiggins being traded is if Bradley Beal becomes available from the Washington Wizards. Even then, the Warriors arguably still will not be able to compete for a title this year.
If the Warriors can find consistency, they can be a solid playoff team and potentially even get to the second round. All the same, do not expect them to contend for a title this year. There are just too many solid – and almost perfect – basketball teams such as the Lakers, Clippers, Nets, Bucks and 76ers. The reality can be disappointing for fans who witnessed the Warriors win three titles from 2015 to 2018. All hope for the future is not lost, though; when Klay Thompson returns from injury, the team will gain back a lot of what has been missing this season. If they make the right moves with Thompson’s return, don’t count out the splash brothers returning to their former glory. But for now, an honest assessment is that they just do not have what it takes.