Stephen Curry broke his left hand, Klay Thompson tore his ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, Kevin Durant no longer resides in the Bay Area, and Draymond Green and D’Angelo Russell are nursing day-to-day injuries. Fair to say this isn’t how the Golden State Warriors envisioned the 2019-20 season unfolding?
Now the hot conversation with the Warriors is whether they should blow up their roster, entering an essential rebuild. On the contrary, here are five reasons why president Bob Myers and friends should avoid embarking on a selling spree.
5) A savvy young core could develop
When injuries mount, opportunity opens for others, and the Warriors have some players who could take advantage of the minutes they’ll receive. Those individuals include Damion Lee, Jordan Poole, Eric Paschall, and Glenn Robinson III.
Lee and Poole are speedy wings who have showcased an ability to score at a steady level. Plus Lee went into the Warriors’ Wednesday night matchup with the Houston Rockets shooting 47.6 percent from beyond the arc. Paschall, a four-year player out of Villanova, is a tenacious forward. He plays tight interior defense, is a strong finisher, and went into Wednesday night averaging an impressive 16.7 points per game.
Robinson has the most experience of the four aforementioned players, but he has never manned a significant role in a team’s rotation; that should change this season. He’s a capable outside shooter, an athletic finisher, and gets to the hole off the dribble. Meanwhile, the Warriors have seasoned big men such as Willie Cauley-Stein, an athletic finisher; and Kevon Looney, a steady two-way center.
Perhaps a combination of these youngsters become more prominent figures and fixtures in head coach Steve Kerr’s rotation moving forward.
4) At full force, this is a lethal team
When healthy, Curry is the best point guard in the NBA. He’s one of the game’s preeminent players and scorers and is an underrated defender; Thompson is an elite two-way player given his soft outside stroke and lockdown on-ball defense; Green is one of the grittiest players in the sport given his relentless defense, court vision, and rebounding.
Last season that trio, along with others, swept a red-hot Portland Trail Blazers team in the Western Conference Finals with conviction. They’re good enough to compete in the West, and if you mesh a potential young core with that trio, as well as Russell — who averaged a career-high 21.1 points per game last season — the Warriors have a deep and well-versed roster.
If Curry, Thompson, and Green were on the court, would the recurring question be whether the Warriors should sell or if they’re going to win the West for a sixth consecutive season? Had Curry not broke his hand, many would have the Warriors pegged as a playoff team, regardless of the 1-3 start with him present.
At full force, this is a lethal basketball team.
Kerr coaches a team that has deep-rooted continuity. Curry and Thompson have been together for a near-decade, and Green has been an integral piece to the puzzle for the Warriors in recent years. Even some of their reserves have been consistent faces in the team’s locker room such as Looney.
Sure, they’ve lost some household names like Durant and Andre Iguodala over the last six months, but the foundation that sparked the Warriors’ rise to prominence remains present — at least on the team’s payroll. Times are tough right now. At the same time, such a drought was inevitable at some point in their dynasty, granted this is a severe circumstance.
Players know each other’s tendencies, what it takes to win an NBA championship, and have skill sets that don’t disrupt the flow of others. At full force, Russell’s fit alongside Curry and Thompson will be an enigma, but one thing the Ohio State product can do is score. A year of getting used to his teammates, who are likely going to be with him in the 2020-21 season, gets Russell on the right track with his new team.
Continuity matters in sports, especially the NBA. The Warriors embody this, and blowing up their roster eliminates that aspect of their organization.
2) The Warriors could still sneak into the playoffs
Yes, the Warriors pose little to no threat to the West without Curry and Thompson, but that doesn’t mean they can’t sneak into the playoffs. It’s surely going to take some time for this team to get on the same page and be a reliable unit on both ends of the floor; that’s what happens when hallmark figures are essentially replaced by rookies and/or young players.
There are a handful of teams in the West off to surprising starts such as the Phoenix Suns (5-2) and Minnesota Timberwolves (4-2). With that said, are they guaranteed to keep up that level of play or make the playoffs? While it’s possible, they’re mostly unproven and have to play well over an 82-game stretch, not two weeks.
The Warriors have overcome adversity, injuries, and have players with a multitude of playoff and/or pivotal game experience. Russell and Green can carry the load offensively, whether it be finding ways to score or getting others involved. They’ll grow into more involved leaders and get the young pups on the right track. On Tuesday night, the Warriors defeated the Trail Blazers, a team perceived as a threat to win the NBA Finals this season. Case in point: the Warriors, at the very least, have a competitive group of individuals.
The playoffs aren’t far-fetched for the Warriors this season. Heck, Curry may be able to return from injury around the NBA trade deadline.
1) A fire sale would be impulsive
The NBA is an extremely impulsive league. When a team loses in the playoffs in back-to-back years, people clamor for them to trade away their best players to trigger a rebuild. When a team is on the rise, people clamor for them to make deals for stars and bypass their roster’s growth. It’s not to say that those models can’t work, rather sometimes people’s call to action can be extreme and rushed.
The logic behind the Warriors selling isn’t absurd. They’re not as otherworldly as years past, have veterans in their primes who are banged up, and the West is relentless. Theoretically, the time to sell is now. At the same time, historic success and franchise players remaining in place is too great to just stop on a dime and rip apart.
Plus, what message does it send to trade away Curry, Green, or Russell after giving them lengthy contracts? Why would anyone sign with the Warriors if they fear management is just going to trade them in a year or two if things go south?
Impulsive roster decisions can come back to haunt teams. Find the last team to win an NBA championship that didn’t stick with their core.