Everybody knows that dynasties do not last forever and the end is hardly ever pretty.
The NBA’s most recent dynastic team, the Golden State Warriors, are no exception to this, yet even if their gradual fall from grace since winning the NBA title in 2022 was somewhat expected, it has not softened the blow of their current reality.
Golden State’s 5-1 start to this season now feels like it was ages ago as they have now lost six of their last eight games. This stretch has brought their record this season to a lowly 17-20 which puts them at 12th place in the Western Conference standings with the season almost at its halfway point.
The suspension of Draymond Green since mid-December has unquestionably factored into this slide and the new hand injury suffered by Chris Paul further complicates matters for them moving forward. This is unfamiliar territory for the Warriors as they are on pace for their worst season with a healthy Stephen Curry since the ‘10-’11 campaign that saw them finish with a 36-46 slate.
The team hit a new low in its latest loss–a 36-point drubbing at the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans–which highlighted the challenges that they have faced all season long. The Pelicans dominated Golden State’s overmatched frontcourt throughout the contest and even the presence of the soon-to-return Green may not have made a difference. Zion Williamson and Jonas Valanciunas steamrolled through the Warriors and made a combined 17-of-25 field goals to lead New Orleans to the blowout win.
The lack of another shot creator alongside the 35-year-old Curry was quite evident as well in the loss and the team’s poor player development over the past few years is hurting them now more than ever. Jordan Poole, James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody were once expected to take over the reins for this team, but that has clearly not panned out and two of these players are not even playing for Golden State anymore.
The manner that the Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr has handled the development of this team’s young players over the past few years is far from ideal and may ultimately lead to his ouster as this team’s head coach.
What has compounded matters in the eyes of Golden State’s fanbase is the list of players that they could have drafted over the past three years which includes rising stars such as LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton, Tyrese Maxey, Onyeka Okongwu, Franz Wagner, Alperen Sengun, Trey Murphy, and Jalen Johnson. However, it is difficult to ascertain if they would have turned into the players that they are today had they been drafted by the Warriors instead given their shabby track record for developing prospects.
Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how Golden State’s front office handles these next few weeks. The team has been linked with the Toronto Raptors’ two-time NBA All-Star forward Pascal Siakam who could give them a boost in the short-term. Acquiring Siakam may cost them Kuminga and a few more prospects, albeit the realistic upside of this deal is likely just another second round exit from the upcoming postseason.
Regardless of whether or not they make a deal though, this team should have at least one more extended winning streak in them. The return of Green later this week will help and the improved play of Thompson in recent weeks is encouraging. It remains to be seen if this will be enough to push them back into the playoff picture, but what is certain is that if they are to salvage this season, they must first rediscover the swagger that once made them great.