It is an odd assertion to make, claiming that a team as good as the Golden State Warriors is in trouble. But it is beginning to feel as though the Dubs’ season is slipping through their fingers.
The Warriors have dropped eight of their last 10 games, including four in a row. The primary reason for that is beyond obvious — injury. While health issues have plagued much of the roster throughout the 2021-22 season, it is the prolonged injury and sustained absence of Draymond Green that has crippled the Dubs to a drastic degree. The former All-NBA forward has missed the last 26 games after he was sidelined by a back injury on January 9, the same day Klay Thompson returned to the court for the first time in nearly 2.5 seasons.
“I’m told seven to 10 days on a return for Draymond Green,” Woj said. “He had a workout after the Warriors’ practice today in L.A. They stayed over after the loss to the [Los Angeles] Lakers last night, and it’s gonna not be a moment too soon.”
While Wojnarowski’s reporting is almost exclusively beyond reproach, another prominent NBA insider has questioned several times this season the veracity of claims coming from inside the Warriors organization — presumably the pool of sources from which Woj received his most recent intel on Green.
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ESPN Insider Accuses Warriors of Being ‘Shady’ About Green’s Injury
Windhorst doubled down on that assertion during the March 1 edition of his Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective podcast.
“The Warriors credibility on injuries this year is pretty shot with me when they didn’t announce that James Wiseman had to have a second surgery,” he said. “They’ve been shady with Draymond, with [what] his situation is, and maybe they don’t know. Draymond says before All-Star [Weekend], ‘Yeah, I’m probably back in three or four weeks.’ Then a week goes by and he says, “Ahh, I’ll probably be back in three or four weeks.'”
Warriors Coach Steve Kerr ‘Desperate’ For Green to Return to Lineup
The Warriors are a pedestrian 14-12 since Green went down, and key members of the organization have begun to voice publicly how important it is for him to re-enter the lineup.
“We desperately need Draymond,” head coach Kerr said following the Dubs’ loss to the Dallas Mavericks Thursday. “You guys know that. If we can get Draymond healthy, in rhythm, hopefully with some good amount of action going into the playoffs, you’re starting to see some of the lineups that we’re gonna be able to throw out there that are more versatile, and should be able to [fend] off penetration better.”
Steph Curry, who has assumed greater responsibility on both sides of the ball in Green’s absence, offered ESPN’s Kendra Andrews a blunt assessment of the Dubs’ postseason prospects without him.
“We’re not going to be anything great,” Curry said.
Golden State’s recent struggles have all but eliminated them from contention for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference Playoffs, as they sat eight games behind the first-place Phoenix Suns as of Sunday night. What’s worse, though, is that the Dubs are now even with the surging Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 2 seed.
The Warriors (43-21) have played two fewer games than the Grizz (44-22) and lead them by just 0.5% points in the win/loss standings because of it. Things could be even worse by the time Green gets back, even if he returns within the week as Woj reported Sunday. Golden State will play four more games over that stretch, including two on the road against a talented Denver Nuggets team, one at home against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks and another at home against the play-in candidate Los Angeles Clippers.
The second seed in the West could prove vital to the Dubs’ chances at another NBA Finals run considering their first-round series would be against a play-in team, most likely the Minnesota Timberwolves, rather than a more established and dangerous opponent like the Nuggets or the Mavericks. The No. 2 position would also afford Golden State home court advantage in a potential second-round matchup with the Grizzlies, which could prove vital if the hypothetical series ended up going the full seven games.