Thompson had been making great progress the last few weeks since his ACL tear during the 2019 NBA Finals. He was initially cleared to begin practicing with the team this past June per a report from The Athletic’s Anthony Slater.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 18, 2020
The extent of the injury has yet to be revealed and he is currently undergoing testing to examine the scale of the injury and how severe it may possibly be. This would certainly spoil the Warriors’ chances of returning to their western conference dominance if he is out for a period of extended time. Additionally, this injury could drastically change their NBA draft strategy as it is set to begin within a couple of hours.
Warriors’ Potential Plans If Thompson Is Out
With the NBA season beginning on December 22nd the Warriors would be in a great bind if Thompson is out for an extended period of time. A lot of their expectations and game-planning for this upcoming season is riding on him being fully healthy and they would have to completely change their strategy moving forward if he cannot begin playing once the season starts.
In the more immediate sense, it also puts into jeopardy their draft and free-agent plans. With the NBA draft beginning in a couple of hours, the Warriors may be in a position to draft a swingman who can help to replace some of the production lost with Thompson.
Some of the other possibilities would be to move forward with the idea of trading the #2 pick for an All-NBA player if a worthwhile scenario exists. Over the last month, the Warriors have put together packages for the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons, Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal, and Phoenix Sun’s Devin Booker. However, every team mentioned has either made trades of their own to appease their superstars or are in discussions with others to do so. The Warriors are essentially on the clock to make a deal of some sort materialize as their $17.2 million trade expectation from their 2019 trade with the Memphis Grizzlies for former NBA Finals MVP and current Miami Heat swingman Andre Iguodala.
With the news of the Houston Rockets’ James Harden and Russell Westbrook both wanting to be traded, they may be in a position to offer young pieces to the team for any of their veteran role players such as Austin Rivers, P.J. Tucker, or Daniel House.
Looking for More Production In House
If the Warriors aren’t able to make a trade they instead must look to free agency and their current roster. Already $34 million over the cap maximum and $10 million over the luxury tax they have little wiggle room to operate in making any big free agent signings. Any deal that would be agreed upon would almost certainly have to be under market value for any player they covet. Looking back at their roster, the Warriors will need their star guard and former two time MVP Stephen Curry to return to his scorching hot days of play while simultaneously receiving better play for star forward Draymond Green and improved play from former number 1 pick and last season’s trade addition Andrew Wiggins.
Wiggins stated earlier this year to new Player-Mentor coach Andrew Barbosa, that he wants to help the Warriors win a championship. Given the Thompson injury, this would be the best time for Wiggins to come into his own and increase the production he’s previously output and step into the superstardom that usually comes with a number 1 pick.
Regardless of either situation, the Warriors find themselves in a very delicate situation while awaiting the results of Thompson’s injury. The entire western conference of this upcoming season could ride on what’s determined in the next few hours.