Is it Panic Time in Golden State?

With a myriad of injuries and a sluggish start, is it panic time for the once-vaunted Golden State Warriors?

Once a team notorious for winning and the next great dynasty, the Golden State Warriors have fallen on hard times as of late. The bandwagon was deserted last year after a soul-crushing injury to Klay Thompson in the infamous 2018-19 NBA Finals. He was lost for all of last season with an ACL tear.

This, combined with some offseason drama including Kevin Durant leaving for Brooklyn and Ayesha Curry making headlines for complaining about Steph’s off-court life, led to a disastrous offseason for the team.

There was still hope that Stephen Curry and Draymond Green could lead the team back to the playoffs for an 8th straight year. This hope was crushed, trampled, and spat on as Steph was lost to a hand injury in the second game that would cost him most of the COVID-shortened season. He eventually returned in early March but the season was suspended in his second game back. This left the Warriors on the outside looking in for the first time since the 2011-12 season.

Heading into this season, the optimism was running high once again. The team would welcome a healthy Klay back and the Splash Bros would be a force once again. James Wiseman, the 2nd pick of the 2020 NBA Draft, will partner up with Draymond to give the Golden State Warriors a dominant frontcourt.

Andrew Wiggins, obtained at last year’s trade deadline, would round out a starting five primed to make a deep run. But then disaster struck, with Klay tearing his Achilles tendon and being ruled out for a second straight season. Now, after starting the season 2-3 with their two wins coming against the struggling Pistons and rebuilding Cavaliers, is it panic time for the Golden State Warriors?

Warriors fans have every right to panic with no clear replacement for hole left by Klay

We all saw how the team crumbled and staggered with the loss of Klay last year. Even before Curry suffered a hand injury, everyone could see that the team was lacking something and struggled heavily. Of course, losing Curry and Klay for a second straight season is unlikely to happen (we hope), it still should concern fans and supporters. The Warriors have already fallen 9 spots and are ranked 24th on ESPN’s recent rankings, backing up the doubters. NBA Power Rankings – Risers and fallers after a wild opening week (espn.com)

Vegas has not been kind to this team, selling expectations on them. Most NBA experts and analysts have not been particularly optimistic, calling for next year. All this should result in fans dimming expectations and waiting yet again.

Can the trio of Wiggins, Oubre Jr., and Bazemore replace Klay?

The argument has been made that Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Oubre Jr., and Kent Bazemore can pick up the slack for Klay. Although this is a possibility, we all know this is a ridiculous argument to make. Klay is a once-in-a-generation shooting guard and a lock for the All-Star team or a close miss in every season he plays. He has set numerous records with his lights-out shooting and is a quiet leader that everyone looks up to. But the biggest contribution is that when he is on the court, Steph is a different player.

Andrew Wiggins has had a good start to the year, but he has yet to shoot 50% from the field in a game this year, and is hot and cold from 3. Wiggins is still trying to mesh with Steph and establish some chemistry, as they have only played several games together. Kelly Oubre Jr. is still trying to fit in with a new team.

This change in surroundings has led to him not scoring more than 15 in a game this year. Warriors fans were excited to see this move, as it showed the organization’s commitment, but it will take time. Lastly, Kent Bazemore is a career role-player who has been in Golden State before (2012-13, 2013-14). However, he looks to be nothing more than a bench player who can provide some good looks.

Time to look to next year’s draft for Golden State Warriors fans

Despite all of these options, the hole left by Klay’s injury will still be too monstrous to replace. This hole will lead to the Golden State Warriors yet again looking forward to the draft. Steph and Draymond may keep this team competitive, but the West is still too good. Sorry Golden State fans, this year is yet another forgettable one for a team that has forged a dynasty.

Led by Steph, Draymond, and rookie James Wiseman, these Warriors have enough talent to make a playoff run

While Klay is a cornerstone player, this team has not stood pat. The Warriors have made enough improvements to put themselves in a stronger spot than last year. The team brought in several players before last year’s trade deadline and the offseason to help bolster the roster. They also saw improvements from several players, such as second-rounder Eric Paschall, two-way player Damion Lee, and former training camp pickup Marquese Chriss. The team also made several additions in free agency, bringing in defensive stud Kelly Oubre Jr. and veteran Kent Bazemore. All these improvements lead to a bench that may be able to rival the legendary 2015-16 and 2016-17 bench units.

Perhaps the biggest help to this team will be the presence of James Wiseman. Wiseman has shot out of the gate with a strong start, averaging 11.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks. The 7-footer from Memphis will only improve throughout the season. Pair this with an elite teammate in Draymond Green, and Wiseman will have nowhere to go but up.

Combine this presence inside with the legendary sharpshooter Steph Curry, and opposing teams will struggle mightily with their game planning. It is a classic case of pick your poison, with teams having to decide on stopping either the dunking and physical presences inside, or the soul-draining 3-point attack led by Curry from outside.

The Golden State Warriors will make a playoff run

Sure, this Golden State Warriors team may have limped to a rocky start with a lot of skepticism. However, this team is led by the legendary coaching of Steve Kerr. Combine this with having two of the three team leaders in Steph and Draymond still commanding the floor, and this is a team that will be in the conversation late in the season. Don’t expect any 73-9 season, but it is hard to see this group not taking the floor come playoff time.

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