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Golden State Warriors: The End of a Dynasty - OTBN 30-In-30

In this edition of our NBA off-season previews, we look at the Warriors and what lies ahead of them in a time of uncertainty

It’s never easy to see a dynasty end. When a team’s greatness is over, the divorce and fallout is often rapid. The Golden State Warriors and their “Splash Brothers” era is no different. It has been a fascinating run, to say the least as they have gone from feel good organic development story to the evil super team (when the team signed Kevin Durant) back to a feel-good team when they won their fourth title in 2022. But since then, there have been some cracks in the armor. 

The Warriors were attempting to rebuild and contend for titles at the same time, an idea that many have called the “two timelines approach”. They were paying their core of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. While at the same time bringing in younger players like Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins and also developing prospects like James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody. They extended Jordan Poole and it seemed that the Splash Brothers era had a smooth transition of power…until it didn’t. 

The altercations between Poole and Draymond Green coupled with the eroding skills of Klay Thompson and Green started to fester and the foundation of this two timelines approach was forever shattered. The result? Poole was traded, and Chris Paul was brought in. Wiseman wasn’t developing fast enough so he was traded as well. The Warriors still had a good team last year and won 47 games. But in a very talented Western Conference, that was only good enough to reach the Play-In Tournament where they lost to the Sacramento Kings. 

There has been reported tension between Klay Thompson and the Warriors, ever since they opted to pay Jordan Poole before him and with him taking a more diminished role with the team at times. It seemed that the end of the pairing of Curry and Thompson was inevitable. As a result, Klay is now a Maverick, Chris Paul is now a Spur, and the Warriors have more questions than answers. What they do have, is the good fortune of employing an incredibly low-maintenance superstar. 

Even at 35 years old, Steph Curry is still producing at a high level. Last season he averaged 26.4 points and 5.1 assists per game while shooting over 40% from three. It stands to reason that while he is still producing at this level, the Warriors will never truly bottom out. Many of the team's moves this off-season were made in an effort to avoid the second apron tax that is a part of the new collective bargaining agreement. This has meant waiving Chris Paul (who was owed $30M) and letting Klay Thompson walk in free agency. 

To replace these pieces, the Warriors have brought in De’Anthony Melton, Kyle Anderson, and Buddy Hield. Both Melton and Anderson are reliable veterans that should in theory elevate the floor of this Warriors team. Hield arrives as a replacement for Klay Thompson. In many ways, he is a decent approximation of what Thompson was last season. He shot 38% from three on nearly seven attempts per game. The concerning aspect about Hield is that in the playoffs for Philadelphia last season he only played in four of the team's six games against New York and only averaged 12.8 minutes in those games. The Warriors will surely need to rely on him more than that if they can get back to the postseason.  

The team is in a good position from a draft capital standpoint as well, as they possess all of their first-round picks with the exception of their pick in 2030. The Warriors will now turn to a triumvirate of Andrew Wiggins, Brandin Podziemski, and Jonathan Kuminga as the anchors of the team’s future in addition to trying to still maximize what is left of Curry’s prime with the veteran additions of Melton, Hield, and Anderson. Yet again they are trying to run two simultaneous timelines, only this time the gulf between the two isn’t as drastic. 

Kuminga specifically seemed to have a bit of a breakthrough last season, averaging 16.1 points per game, albeit on less-than-ideal efficiency. He is likely still a few years away from being ready to be a meaningful contributor on a playoff team. But Golden State has enough to remain competitive and in the mix in the Western Conference. Their title contention days seem to be behind them (barring a massive trade which currently feels unlikely). At this point, it feels like we are in store for the same treatment that Kobe Bryant received towards the end of his tenure as a Laker: a team that is not good enough to contend but is liable to have a few exciting moments thanks to their aging superstar. I would look for the Warriors to be in the Play-In mix once again this year but not much beyond that. 

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