The Golden State Warriors suffered a heart-breaking overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night, missing the playoffs by five points and closing the book on a gritty, inspiring season.
But in defeat, the Warriors also turned the page from a two-year chapter in franchise history that is perhaps best described as basketball purgatory.
While Golden State won’t take the floor in the 2021 NBA Playoffs, the next time they step on the court it will be with a healthy Klay Thompson. The occasion will mark the first time in 28 months that the core of the Warriors’ dynasty graces the starting lineup together.
Golden State’s involuntary two-season timeout, which at times felt almost like some bizarre cosmic punishment for five years of nearly unprecedented success, will be over.
“You don’t want to see us next year,” Steph Curry said Friday night.
Warriors Championship Contenders From Day One Next Season, Analyst Says
The community around the league was taking notice even before the Warriors’ season ended in a 117-112 overtime loss to the Grizzlies on Friday evening, May 21.
Just the day before, The Ringer’s Bill Simmons acknowledged on his podcast how scary the Warriors will be when next season begins, not to mention how much better they can get by the time the playoffs roll around.
“The team’s going to be a lot better next year. (Curry) is going to have Klay (Thompson) back,” Simmons said. “Poor Klay was pacing back and forth behind their bench (Wednesday, May 19), losing his mind that he couldn’t be out here.”
The analyst went on to mention the other advantages the Warriors will have next season, including likely the Minnesota Timberwolves’ top-10 NBA Draft pick and options to develop or flip rookie standout James Wiseman based on what makes the most sense for the team.
“They are going to get, it looks like, the 6th or 7th pick from Minnesota in a draft that everybody thinks has seven good players. The only way they don’t get that pick is if Minnesota miraculously moves up to the top three,” Simmons said. “They have the Wiseman card to play if they want to trade (him).”
For Simmons, it all adds up to a championship roster for Golden State next season.
“The Warriors are going to be, in my opinion, one of the four or five teams that have a real chance to win the title,” Simmons continued. “We’ll be hearing more from Curry.”
Regular Season Grind Seasoned Warriors Youthful Lineup
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr spoke to the media after his team was knocked out of the postseason, calling this year’s campaign a success for one specific reason.
“I’m really, really excited about what’s next for this group,” Kerr said. “The young guys have grown and developed. That makes this a successful season for what it sets up for next year.”
Players like Jordan Poole and Juan Toscano-Anderson got opportunities to shine during in-game experiences that would not have been likely without injuries to several of the Warriors top players. When they return to functioning more as role players, they are likely to bring more value to those supporting roster spots.
“I’m proud of every single person in a warrior uniform tonight,” Curry said after the loss to Memphis.
A stronger, tougher and more experienced supporting cast backing up an MVP candidate (Curry), a perennial All-Star and two-way specialist (Thompson), and one of the best defenders in NBA history (Green) will indeed make for a scary team to play each night.
Add a top-7 NBA draft pick in one of the deepest drafts in recent memory, figure in the court value or trade value of Wiseman in his sophomore season, and consider forward Andrew Wiggins a third- or fourth-option on offense rather than a second — and all of the sudden the Warriors look outwardly to be among the NBA elite.
If that all proves to be the case, and Golden State can remain relatively healthy as the core of their team ages, then dynasty resumed.
“We ain’t done,” Thompson said on Instagram Friday night. “I promise you that.”