After kicking off their ‘22-’23 campaign with a rather easy win over the Los Angeles Lakers, the defending champion Golden State Warriors have struggled to find their footing and find themselves with a 3-6 win-loss record three weeks into the new season.
Golden State alternated wins and losses in its first five games before embarking on its first extended road trip of the year which has been far from smooth. They have lost all four games and still have to play one more against the New Orleans Pelicans before they can finally head home.
The past week on the road has been catastrophic, with four losses to four Eastern Conference teams that are all below .500, and their defense has been the main culprit for their shortcomings. Through eight games, they allowed their opponents to score a whopping 121.3 points per game, second only to the tanking San Antonio Spurs, before letting the Orlando Magic drop 130 on them in a one-point loss.
The blame cannot solely be placed on their veterans who have performed close to the level that is expected of them. Stephen Curry has been particularly brilliant, scoring at least 31 points in seven of their first nine outings. He had his finest performance of the season in their most recent loss to Orlando, scoring 39 points on 13-of-22 shooting along with three rebounds and nine assists.
Meanwhile, Draymond Green appears to have shrugged off the offseason drama caused by his punch on Jordan Poole at practice and is putting up 8.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.1 steals,and 0.7 per game. Though his athleticism continues to decline, his basketball IQ remains elite and he continues to be an asset on this team.
With Green’s decline, their young players have a prime opportunity to carve out bigger roles by filling the team’s holes on defense. However, none of them have been able to stand out.
James Wiseman, the second overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft, has been quite underwhelming after missing the entirety of last season with a knee injury. More than his on-court production, the 7’0 center has shown an underwhelming drive and seems to lack the competitive fire that helped turn his more senior teammates into NBA champions.
On the other hand, sophomore swingman Moses Moody has shown promise in short spurts, yet the 20-year-old still remains quite raw and needs more experience before he can turn into a serviceable role player.
Offensively, Poole has not lived up to expectations after signing a four-year deal worth $140 million. He has been wildly inconsistent this season and his shooting percentages are all down across the board. He is averaging 16.1 points per game through nine outings which is over two points less than the 18.5 that he averaged last year over 76 outings.
The extension of the Warriors’ dynasty rests in the hands of these three players and it will be interesting to see if any of them can step up this year to help their veteran core of Curry, Green, Klay Thompson, and Andre Iguodala win their fifth title together. This dynasty is clearly in its twilight years, but remains capable of winning a title as they proved just a few months ago.
They will need help from their young players if they want to win another championship and it remains to be seen which of them can become the player that Golden State needs them to be.