Sports

Warriors season preview

The Warriors Arena, The Chase Center (Photo courtesy of Greg Martin)

by Jon Donohue, editor

The Warriors have continued their dynasty, reestablishing Golden State supremacy after bringing home their fourth championship in eight years in the 2022 NBA finals. As they enter the 2022-2023 season, they look as strong as ever on the surface, but recent problems arising with Draymond Green and Jordan Poole, as well as some major defensive struggles, could cause fractures throughout the course of the season. Regardless, the Dubs have kicked off their season with promise.

While the Warriors defense needs substantial changes, they have made improvements since their tough loss on Oct. 25 against the Phoenix Suns and will always be a threat for a championship considering their depth, talent, and core. They are capable of having yet another championship run this season, but with multiple veteran players in the league returning from injuries, it will not come easy. The Warriors will have to unite as a team, as we’ve known them to do, to continue their domination into the 2022-2023 NBA season. I predict that they will win 55 games, compared to their 53 wins last year. But at the end of the day, the regular season for the Dubs is never the priority. This is a team that frequently sets a major focus on the playoffs, and their championships and dominance over the last eight years reflect that. 

The Warriors had a relatively quiet off-season. Unfortunately, the Dubs lost key bench players Gary Payton and Otto Porter Jr. but picked up free agents JaMychal Green and Donte DiVincenzo. They also selected Patrick Baldwin Jr. with the 28th overall pick and Ryan Rollins with the 44th overall pick in the NBA Draft. Additionally, James Wiseman, center and 2020 second overall draft pick, has returned from injury after missing the entire 2021 to 2022 season with a torn right meniscus. While he has little NBA experience, he shows a lot of promise and, with the guidance of veteran players, he will take the Warriors’ frontcourt to the next level. 

Looking at the Warriors’ roster, the question is not what they can do, but what can’t they do? Splash Bros Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will always be the envy of the league, and adding Poole to the mix will only reinforce their dominance, forcing opposing teams to shift their defense to stop them. Then, factor in veteran players Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala: Iguodala is a natural leader, and Green is a defensive beast, offensive facilitator, and often described as the “heartbeat” of the team. Andrew Wiggins, a two-way threat, and Kevon Looney, a defensive hustler, contribute to the team on a major level as well. Looking at the younger Warriors, Wiseman, Moses Moody, and Jonathan Kuminga all have bright futures and continue to gain more experience each game. There is so much to look forward to as a Warriors fan. With the mix of seasoned all-stars and young talent, the continuation of the dynasty will be ensured even after Curry, Thompson, and Green are gone. 

Despite the Warrior’s stacked roster, problems have started to arise only four games into the season. Thompson has gone cold, with only 12.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. He has showcased questionable shot selection, appearing to force shots, take bad looks, and disrupt the rhythm of the offense. Thompson is well aware of his struggles this season, but in a post game interview in response to a comment made by Charles Barkley, he said, “give me some time, man.” He has been injured for two seasons, so it will definitely take some time for him to get back into full swing. The most important thing for the team right now is showing Thompson support in his journey to get back to full strength. Curry has been playing fantastically, putting up 30.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists for the first five games. Poole is also showcasing his skills as he develops into an all-star player and will continue to become a bigger threat each game. He is an offensive machine, handling the ball well and moving very fast, which he uses to his advantage to get past the defense and score. The main problem at the moment has been on defense, especially in transition and fouling. The Warriors have allowed over 70 points in the first half for three out of the first five games of the season, highlighting their lack of defense. The offense has been exceptional, except for the second half of the game against the Phoenix Suns where it lacked big time. 

The Western Conference has most definitely increased its talent and skill pool this year. The Los Angeles Clippers, a team with a growing fanbase, brought back superstar Kawhi Leonard along with Paul George to make a run at a championship. John Wall, star player for the Wizards, after conflicts with the Houston Rockets, led him to sit out the entire 2021-2022 season, was subsequently traded to the Clippers but, even with multiple years away from the league, came back strong and will definitely assist the team to a playoff run this summer.  The Phoenix Suns once again brought back star players Chirs Paul, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton, but after last season’s playoff choke against the Dallas Mavericks, it is hard to say whether or not they will be able to perform in the clutch this season. The Suns look hungry for redemption this season. The Denver Nuggets brought Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. back into the lineup, providing 2021 and 2022 MVP Nikola Jokic some crucial assistance this season, and have a chance to contend in the Western Conference championship, along with the Memphis Grizzlies. Ja Morant is shaping up to have another elite season, leading the Grizzlies to another high win-loss record and playoff run in the West. All teams pose threats to the Warriors, but even with all the obstacles last year the Dubs rose to the occasion and took down team after team. We can expect them to do the same this year. 

As for the East, the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, and Philadelphia 76ers are major contenders for the Eastern Conference title. The Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks are the favorites to battle in the east. The Celtics and Bucks did not really change much from last season, both teams and organizations will once again be forced to be reckoned with. In my opinion, the Philadelphia 76ers will be a competitor as well. They have played poorly lately, losing four out of their first six games, but it is early and they have lots of time to figure out their issues. James Harden has kicked off his season impressively, and if he can contribute to Joel Embid, they could also be forced to make a deep run in the east.

The Golden State Warriors have the skills and the talent for another championship. As long as they stick to their methods for success and emphasize their depth and teamwork, the Dubs can bring home another title. 

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