The 2024 Golden State Warriors are far from the team that used to make a mockery out of the NBA. While the Dubs' 46-36 record would've earned them the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, they're unfortunately based out west, where there's a much deeper contingent of heavyweight squads.

As a result, they were relegated to tenth in the Western Conference, forcing them to travel to Sacramento to take on the ninth-seeded Kings in the Play-In Tournament. Golden State is favored by 2.5 points in the win-or-go-home contest, via DraftKings. However, it'll be without guard Gary Payton II, via NBC Sports' Dalton Johnson. This exacerbates the team's lack of depth even more, as the team lacks any major threat on offense other than Steph Curry.

While Payton only averaged 5.5 games this year, he's one of the better defensive guards in the league. The veteran has a 113 defensive rating, along with 0.9 steals per game. Without him, the Warriors will have a much harder time defending players like De'Aron Fox and Keegan Murray.

While Klay Thompson and Johnathan Kuminga are decent supporting pieces, Curry has been doing the majority of the heavy lifting. With Golden State now losing one of its best defenders, will the future Hall-of-Famer be able to carry the team through the Play-In?

The Warriors' lack of depth will ultimately be their downfall

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) drives to the basket between a trio of Sacramento Kings defenders during the fourth quarter at Chase Center.
© D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

With the Warriors' core of Curry, Thompson, and Draymond Green all aging, it was only a matter of time before the team started declining. Kuminga is their only draft pick to make a major impact in recent memory, so it'll take a while for them to get anywhere close to the championship level they used to be at.

However, the roster may not even be playoff-caliber anymore. Curry still hasn't lost his magic, averaging 26.4 points per game on 45% shooting. The 36-year-old finished ninth in the league in scoring and has shown no signs of slowing down.

Unfortunately, though, his “Splash Brother” has. Thompson is having one of his worst seasons in years, averaging 17.9 points per game with 3.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists. His scoring average specifically is his worst since 2012-13, his sophomore season.

This wouldn't be the end of the world if Golden State had other players replacing Thompson's prime level of production. However, the Washington State alum is still the team's second-leading scorer.

Kuminga trails behind him with 16.1 points a game on 52.9% shooting. While the 2021 first-round pick has proven to be a decent player, it's not a good look for him to still be trailing a declining Thompson. While his efficiency is better by 9.4%, he's still not impactful enough to truly strike fear into opponents.

The Kings, meanwhile, sport both the NBA steals and rebounding leaders. Fox leads with two steals per game, and Damontas Sabonis leads with 13.7 boards. Sabonis nearly averages a triple-double, adding 19.4 points and 8.2 assists. Fox anchors the scoring load, averaging 26.5 points on 46.5% shooting. Even with Malik Monk and Kevin Huerter injured, it'll be tough for the Warriors to deal with this duo on the road.

If Golden State can manage to beat Sacramento, it'll have to deal with either the Los Angeles Lakers or New Orleans Pelicans in the next Play-In round. Both squads are deeper than the Dubs by far. The Lakers sport the superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, while Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and CJ McCollum all average over 20 points for the Pelicans.

With Curry not getting any younger, the Warriors are running out of time to rebuild their talent base. This Play-In Tournament could be a rude awakening if one of their supporting players doesn't unexpectedly step up, as their potential opponents all have better rosters on paper.