The rookie center has had some struggles. The star guard is out. The two new wings have been inconsistent. The star big man is having a down year. There are plenty of excuses for why the Warriors have not looked like a championship-caliber team this season, and the hope is that all that will change next year.
James Wiseman, the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, should improve. Klay Thompson will return. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Andrew Wiggins will either be more settled in with the Warriors or traded elsewhere. Draymond Green will be re-energized with the return of Thompson. Not too much to ask, right?
Well, ESPN’s Nick Friedell disagrees. Strongly. Appearing on the “Lowe Post” podcast, the Warriors beat writer says it is time for some honestly about Golden State’s future prospects—and they cannot win a championship as constructed, even when Thompson returns.
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“The sooner the organization understands that, the faster they can start to retool around Steph (Curry),” Friedell said. “But in that regard, the Klay injury told them, and this season told them, they’re just not good enough. That core, as great as they were and as good as they still can be together—because I think they still can be a very good team—but the question is whether they can win a title together, the answer is no.”
Can Bradley Beal Save the Warriors? Well …
Yikes. Certainly a harsh assessment, but considering the Warriors’ record (24-29) and the fact that they’d gone 4-12 in 16 games before Tuesday’s miraculous comeback win over Milwaukee, Friedell is not far off. The Warriors have hardly been the offensive juggernaut we’re used to—they rank 22nd in offensive efficiency (108.5 points per 100 possessions)—and have been only pretty good defensively, ranked 10th (110.5).
Not a lot there to say they’re only a Klay Thompson away from the NBA Finals.
Friedell does give the Warriors a chance to launch back near the top of the league, but it would require that Wizards guard Bradley Beal come out and demand a trade out of Washington. If so, the Warriors are in great position to put together an attractive package, with Wiseman, Minnesota’s 2021 (or 2022, depending on how the lottery goes) draft pick, plus more picks and Andrew Wiggins to help match salaries.
Even that, though, is probably not enough to get them to the Finals, according to Friedell:
It seems to me the only real question as to bringing in another star is would you trade James Wiseman, the Minnesota pick, Andrew Wiggins and a couple other picks for Bradley Beal—if he comes out onto the market. Beal would be great with Steph, they’d be a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
But even then, with Beal, Klay, Draymond and Steph in that scenario, that is a really, really good team, but I don’t believe they can win a title, either. I think the Warriors are in deep trouble as far as title contention goes again. I just don’t think, no matter how you add up the pieces, it is enough to get them back to where they’re used to being.
Warriors in Need of an Honest Look at the Future
Still, there is a sense around the Warriors that the organization is deluding itself into thinking that prosperity is just around the corner, that next season will vault the Warriors back to the top of the league. But if he stays, Wiseman will need more time. Green, at 31, appears useless offensively. There is no telling how effective Thompson will be after two years off rehabbing Achilles and ACL injuries.
The Warriors still have Curry, who is averaging 29.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists. As a whole, Golden State needs to figure out how to revamp a roster around what he does best.
As Friedell put it when asked whether this bunch could win a title, “With all that in mind, if you’re really being honest, and the Warriors really have to be—Bob Myers, Steve Kerr, Joe Lacob, everybody going into this summer—the answer to the question is no. So the follow-up question is, what do you do to try and turn it around?”