We’re barely 20 games into the NBA season, but considering some of the ups and downs that some teams have experienced, it already feels like they’ve had a full season. We can easily discuss the drama happening in Los Angeles and Brooklyn, but we’re going to talk about a team that no one expected to have any problems this season — the Golden State Warriors.
Coming into the 2022-23 season, the defending champions seemed to be in a great place to kick off the season the same way they ended. NBA Analysts and oddsmakers predicted the Warriors to be one of the favorites to win the West. The Warriors were consistently one of best NBA bets today at The Game Day. Mostly because the core team was coming back with an infusion of younger talents willing to do the work.
Draymond still has enough to bring the fire and change game dynamics. Steph Curry won the NBA Finals MVP and didn’t look like he was going to slow down anytime soon. Klay Thompson had the offseason to get back to where he was before his two season-ending surgeries. The 27-year old Andrew Wiggins was coming off an all-star season and in his prime.
Kevon Looney was coming off his best season and Andre Iguodala is returning for a final season. Jordan Poole showed promise as the leader of the next generation Warriors which includes James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody. Seemed like the Warriors were set up for a seamless transition back to the top of the Western Conference. What could go wrong?
Breaking Down the Warrior’s Problems
With basketball being one of the most streamed sports in the US, the Warriors were one of the most-streamed NBA teams last season and provided some of the best moments from the 2021-22 season. This season hasn’t provided nearly as many positive moments. If you’ve been following, things haven’t gone nearly as well as expected for the Warriors. Though Curry has been providing plenty of highlights and playing at a elite level, the team hasn’t had nearly as many highs as last season.
Through their first ten games, the defending champion Golden State Warriors had a shocking 3-7 record. It wasn’t just one issue, there were several problems in the Bay Area. Here’s some of factors that contributed to Golden State’s limping out of the gate.
KLANK BROTHER Klay Thompson has historically had slow starts to the season and this season is no different. Somehow this season’s slow start felt different to the point that there were whispers that he was washed, should be benched, and/or traded Not only was Klay missing shots he would normally make, but he was certainly forcing it. It almost felt as if Thompson was trying to make up for the two seasons he missed and the Warriors rhythm was suffering for it.
ROAD WOES: Though the Warriors were winning at home, they started out winless in their first eight road games that included a brutal 0-5 road trip.
MISSING GPII, PORTER, BELLY Even with all of their core players returning, it’s apparent that the transition from Gary Payton II, Nemanja Bjelica, and Otto Porter Jr. has been really rocky. Even with the additions of veteran contributors Donte DiVincenzo and JaMychal Green hasn’t made it as seamless as hoped.
POOLE PARTY POOPER After an amazing 2021-22 season that saw Jordan Poole average 18.5 points, 4 assists, and a lot of fun highlights, the 23-year old signed a huge contract in the off-season. There was no reason not to expect Poole to continue growing. However Poole has clearly had a tough time adjusting to his new role coming off the bench. The 6-4 shooting guard is missing shots he normally makes, but at times he seems to be hesitating and uncertain
YOUTH WAS NOT SERVED: This season looked promising not only because Steph, Klay, Draymond, Looney and Iguodala were returning, but Kuminga, Wiseman, and Moody were going to have another full season of reps and experience. Unfortunately all three have found themselves in the doghouse for various reasons. Kuminga started out the season not playing at all. Wiseman got playing time, but was eventually sent to the G-League, and Moody doesn’t look like the player that contributed in the NBA Finals — mostly because he hasn’t played at all.
DEFENSE Contributing to the Warrior’s unexpected poor start was the fact that they had one of the league’s worst defenses early on — this from a team that has had one of the best defenses over the last decade.
BENCH MOBBED The Warrior’s starting five has been one of the best fives in the league. The problem is when the second unit comes in. That combination of Poole, Kuminga, Wiseman, DiVincenzo, and JaMychal Green have a plus/minus deep in the red. The bench unit was hemorrhaging leads so bad that Steve Kerr and staff were forced to make drastic changes even inserting undrafted, out-of-nowhere Anthony Lamb.
The good news is that the Warriors seemed to have figure some things out and remedied some of these early season issues. They’ve won a couple games on the road after the team had an intervention with Thompson about his shot selection. Since then he’s much less trigger happy and in turn shooting much more efficiently.
Kerr has shifted his rotation to play Draymond more minutes with the second unit which has made a world of difference. Kuminga has found himself playing more minutes. Poole has been more engaged and shown more of that spark we saw last season. The defense has improved. Kuminga is finally understanding what his role should be and has seen his minutes increase with that willingness to rebounds, run, and play defense.
In the last seven games, the Warriors have won five of those games. Two of which were road games. Their only losses coming in New Orleans Pelicans when they sat Steph, Draymond, Wiggins and Klay and a tight nail biter against Luka Doncic and the Mavs.