For the time being, the Golden State Warriors are on top of the NBA world. It’s been like that for the majority of the last decade, though, so they must be used to it. Winning four titles in eight years means that they’ve earned some big-time respect from their peers.
However, as they attempt to head into next year and win another championship, there will be some stiff competition. Teams like the Boston Celtics, LA Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, and others will be vying to strip them of their champion status.
That being said, according to Zach Harper of The Athletic, they still rank first in the NBA power rankings. But despite that, Harper still believes that they got worse. They are a worse team than the one that won it all just a few short months ago.
“Did this team get better? On the surface? Absolutely not,” Harper wrote on August 3. “The Golden State Warriors saw three — maybe four — good role players leave in free agency this offseason. For a defending champion, that’s not exactly rare, but it was kind of odd to feel like the Warriors had finally hit a breaking point with doling out luxury-tax penalties.”
Golden State may be the defending champs, but losing crucial rotational pieces like Otto Porter Jr., Gary Payton II, and Nemanja Bjelica will certainly hurt their title hopes. That being said, they did manage to snag some solid replacements.
Warriors Made Valuable Replacements
Losing Porter, Payton, and Bjelica will definitely hurt their depth, but Golden State acted quickly, signing Donte DiVincenzo and JaMychal Green as replacements. Both should slot in perfectly in the Warriors’ new rotation.
“If DiVincenzo’s knee is healthy, he’ll be a nice replacement for Payton as a very different role player. Green should be a solid rotation option for them,” Harper wrote in his power rankings.
DiVincenzo returned from injury last year and played some solid basketball with the Sacramento Kings. Meanwhile, Green was traded from the Denver Nuggets to the Oklahoma City Thunder this offseason, where he was bought out and decided to sign with Golden State. DiVincenzo should be able to replace Payton, while Green should be able to replace both Porter and Bjelica in some respects.
However, Harper believes that there are a few main keys for the Warriors if they want to thrive next year.
Keys to Warriors’ Success
Despite losing some rotational pieces, the Warriors still have their core intact. They’ll be able to run it back next year, and Harper believes there are a few keys to success for them next season.
“This team is banking on Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson being great in title defense form, and on the young guys (Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, James Wiseman) growing up in bigger roles next season. The biggest key is a full offseason for Thompson … and maybe how Green handles extension talks,” Harper explained.
With Curry, Green, and Thompson at the helm, they should be able to compete with anybody. And if their young players can take that next step, then they’ll be in even better shape than most would have expected. Keep an eye out for the Warriors next year, because there will be a lot of storylines to watch.