Disclaimer: The following article was written before the commencement of the 2020-2021 season.
With the NBA announcing the format and schedule for the 2020-2021 season, and teams gearing up for the regular season, one question looms over everyones head: has the Golden State Warriors’ dynasty come to an end? Can a team plagued with injuries return to its former glory? With one-half of the splash brothers being out of commission due to a torn right Achilles, a lot of people are doubting the Warriors to succeed in this stacked Western conference. In my view, however, they can’t be counted out just yet; a closer look at their franchise clearly shows that the championship-caliber talent and the drive to win more rings is still there.
Going into the 2020-2021 regular season, the pressure of carrying the Warriors to the promised land falls predominantly on the shoulders of one man, Wardell Stephen Curry. Due to Curry not playing for the majority of the 2019-20 season due to a broken left hand after his collision with Aaron Baynes in the 3rd quarter during a home game against the Phoenix Suns, many analysts have begun to doubt the capabilities of this legend- who is now into his 12th professional year. The 6-time all-star is without a shadow of a doubt the greatest shooter to have blessed the hardwood floor. Not only that, but he is one of only 12 players to have won a back to back regular season MVP (Most Valuable Player) awards in the history of the league alongside all-time greats such as Bill Russel, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Micheal Jordan, and LeBron James ( who is still the GOAT. don’t @ me). Moreover, since the regular season MVP award was introduced in 1955-56, Stephen Curry is the only individual who has won the award through a unanimous vote, and in the 2015-16 season, he led his team to an outstanding record: 73 wins and 9 losses, the best regular-season record in the league’s history. In the same season, he shattered the record for the most 3-point shots made in a regular-season by hitting 402 3-pointers from beyond the arc, shattering the previous record of 286, a record he himself set in the previous season. Moreover, he tied the record for the most 3 pointers made in a single game by hitting one of the most iconic, game-winning, dagger of a 3-pointer against Oklahoma City Thunder, accompanied by commentator Mike Breen’s iconic “Bang!”.
To top all of this off, during that season Curry joined the 50-40-90 club; meaning he shot at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from beyond the arc, and 90 percent from the charity stripe or free-throw line. When it comes to shooting the ball from beyond the arc, Curry is head and shoulders above the competition as he has a career average of 43.4 percent successful 3-point shots and has never shot less than 41.1 percent from beyond the arc during a full season despite the fact that he averages 8.2 attempts a game. To put that into context, the league average from beyond the arc is 35.1 percent and the average attempts per game are 6.08. Due to the sheer volume and efficiency of his 3-pointers, Curry ranks 3rd in the all-time career 3-pointers made list despite the fact that he has played 600 fewer games than Reggie Miller, who is currently at the second spot in the list with Curry being expected to overtake him this season. It is also estimated that by the time Curry will have played as many games as Ray Allen, he will have made 4693 career 3 pointers compared to Ray Allen’s 2973 career 3 pointers (assuming his volume and percentage remains the same.
In the league’s history, there have been twenty-two games in which a player has made eleven or more 3-point shots, with Curry having eight such outings with the Warriors in his career; no one in that list has more than 3 such games. When it comes to “pulling the trigger from deep”, it can be said without a shadow of a doubt that Curry is unparalleled, as he has a field goal percentage of 48 percent from 30-35 feet and this is the reason why he has the go-ahead from head coach Steve Kerr to pull the trigger from wherever he likes and whenever he likes. However, Curry’s greatness isn’t just limited to his shooting. He is one of the best ball handlers in the league right now: the speed and dexterity of his handles allowing him to create that inch of space he needs to get a shot off or to outright just break the ankles of the defender guarding him. Not only is he an excellent perimeter shooter, but he is also an excellent interior finisher not being afraid to draw contact in the paint, making circus shots for beautiful “and one” plays, where a player gets to shoot a free-throw in addition to the points they have already scored, which have will have the crowd asking themselves “Now how’d he do that?”
As for the postseason, the three-time champion has shown he’s more than capable to hold his own in a playoffs series and carry a team to the promised land as shown by the fact that he made 5 straight NBA finals and his numerous playoff performances such as the iconic game 6 versus the Houston Rockets in which he proceeded to drop 33 points in the 2nd half of the game to eliminate the Rockets following Kevin Durant’s torn Achilles in the game 5 of the same 7 game series. Following that series, Curry and the warriors proceeded to sweep the Portland Trailblazers in the western conference finals. Moreover, Curry was the main catalyst behind the warrior’s 2015 championship despite him not winning the finals MVP (that’s a topic for another day). He also holds the record for the most 3s made in a finals game when he proceeded to drop 9 3s against Lebron’s Cavaliers in game 2 of the finals.
Stephen Curry is single-handedly responsible for the new era of basketball and his impact on the game has led to an influx of attempted 3 pointers. It can be safely said that he is one of the most influential players of our generation. Due to the greatness of Stephen Curry, he has a certain gravity to him on the hardwood floor and he demands certain attention which leads to teams double and triple-teaming him on the floor which results in a lot of open looks for his teammates. Hence, in order to have a great offense with Stephen Curry, you need to surround him with people who can score the basketball and that’s what the Warrior’s, alongside their General Manager Bob Myers, are doing as made evident with the inclusion of players such as Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr.
Now when it comes to the case of Andrew Wiggins, a lot of people have labeled him as a draft bust but that does not mean he is a bad player as he averaged 19.4 points per game for the Warriors on pretty efficient shooting; although a lot of people may criticize Wiggin’s defensive efforts, he has been seen improving his defensive hustle as the former Rookie of the Year averaged 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks for the warriors the previous season. This growth of his can be increased exponentially due to the presence of the former Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green who can mentor Wiggins transforming him into one of the better 2-way players of the league giving the warriors not only a strong offensive option but also a great defensive option when it comes to getting those stops during crucial moments of a game.
As for his role in the team, I think for the 2020-2021 season, Wiggins will be the starting Small Forward for the team but as soon as Klay Thompson is back from his injury, Wiggins will be given the reduced role of the sixth man, a role that he will flourish in, with Kelly Oubre Jr. replacing him as the team’s starting Small Forward.
As for Kelly Oubre Jr., who was recently traded to the Warriors from the OKC Thunder after Klay Thompson’s Achilles injury, he is a player who has been progressing at a steady pace for the duration of his career; in his rookie year he averaged only 3.7 points,0.2 assists and 2.1 rebounds with the Washington Wizards. In his previous year with the Phoenix Suns, he averaged 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game, and if he continues to improve at the rate he is improving at he’ll be averaging at least 20 points per game for the Warriors. Not only is he a pretty decent perimeter shooter, shooting 35.2 percent from beyond the arc, but he also possesses a deadly midrange jumper with him knocking down a whopping 49% percent of his shots. To put this into context, the league average from the same range is 40.5%. Due to his sheer size, strength and athletic ability Oubre is more than capable of throwing it down with authority in the paint as he can and will put the opposing defender on a poster.
As for the defensive end of the game, the Warriors not only have the former defensive player of the year and three-time NBA champion in Draymond Green who can defend any position on the court and has proven himself to be one of the best defensive players in the league, but also the 7’1 center James Wiseman out of Memphis. With his size and athletic ability, James Wiseman is a good rebounder and rim protector. Moreover, he’s also a dominant presence on both the defensive and offensive end. Furthermore, his getting drafted by the Warriors surrounds him with championship-level talent from which he can learn a lot from increasing the rate at which he improves as a player allowing him to reach his potential ceiling as quickly as possible. The presence of Draymond Green and James Wiseman improves the Warriors’ defense 10 fold, making them a solid contender for the title.
Although the Warriors may not be at their full strength due to the absence of Klay Thompson in their starting lineup, I feel as though the front office has done a good enough job to surround Curry with the proper pieces, making them a playoff team at the very least. However, once Klay returns to the Warriors, that’s when they’ll be at full strength; to give an example of his ability in catch and shoots, he scored 60 POINTS on 11 DRIBBLES against the Indiana Pacers. Moreover, Klay is one of the best volume shooters from beyond the arc as he holds the record for the most 3 pointers made in a single regular-season game when he dropped 14 3 pointers on the Chicago Bulls. Alongside this record, he also holds the record for the most points in a single quarter of an NBA game dropping 37 points in the 3rd quarter of a regular-season game against the Sacramento Kings. Although Klay might be able to regain his former glory on the offensive end, however, the same cannot be said for his defensive efforts as due to his injuries, he might not be able to cover the same amount of ground as he did prior to the injury. However, I feel as though the inclusion of James Wiseman makes up for this potential drop off in Klay’s defensive game, and once Klay Thompson returns to the Warriors, they’ll be able to space the floor more efficiently opening up space for the previously mentioned players such as Kelly Oubre Jr. and James Wiseman making them a solid contender for the NBA Championship.
If all things go well and the Splash brothers are reunited, I wouldn’t bet against the Warriors to win it all. You best believe the Warriors aren’t done yet and maybe they can get Curry his 4th ring.