Despite missing the playoffs for the 2nd straight year, and being devoured by the grueling luck of injuries plaguing the Golden State Warriors, the road ahead still looks promising. Despite losing a strong core in Klay Thompson, Kelly Oubre Jr., and James Wiseman, the Warriors, seamlessly carried by Stephen Curry, beat the odds and finished the regular season with an improved 39-33 record, just good enough for a play-in game appearance.
As the last few seconds ticked off in the Memphis-Warriors play-in game, Curry was seen on the baseline with a towel hung over his head. However, this do-or-die game was more than just basketball for Curry. It is about grit and determination; the underdog mentality they will surely bring to the table next year. These are a few important players for the Golden State Warriors next season:
Stephen Curry; arguably the greatest shooter on the planet and a pioneer for the modern NBA. His impact on the Warriors franchise is unparalleled. Additionally, Curry's recent burst has stirred MVP chants around the league, scoring 32 points per game this season alone.
When Klay was ruled out due to his ACL tear in the 2019 Finals, the whole world was in shock. The defending champions were unable to reclaim the championship against the Toronto Raptors, especially devoid of one of their best players. During the offseason, Klay, unfortunately, got injured again. He tore his Achilles during a pick-up game and would miss the entirety of this year's season. However, the Warriors Health and Medical Team have determined a return of Thompson for the 2021-22 season. Klay, after his team faced a heart-wrenching loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, said that he has "never been hungrier" to play. His eagerness to play and his 21.5 points per game, 46.7% shooting from the field, and 40.2% from the three-point line in 2018 will exude long overdue confidence in the team. The reunification of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, also nicknamed "the Splash Bros," will prove detrimental to opponents as they will continue to cause wreckage to each team.
Kelly Oubre Jr. has been a complementary star to Stephen Curry. Before Oubre's wrist injury, he was averaging 15.4 points per game, while shooting nearly 44% from the field. If Oubre returns to the Warriors next season, Golden State fans will definitely see his importance as a worthy playmaker.
One player that does not receive enough laudatory appreciation is Andrew Wiggins. As the 1st pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, his craftiness, and athletic abilities allow him to create his own shots at ease. Just this year, he averaged 18.6 points per game, a respectable sum as the second scoring option on the team. His growth has been exponential and his imperturbable demeanor will be crucial for the team in the playoffs. Furthermore, his shooting has been lethal, making 47.7% shots from the field and 38% from three.
The rookie from Nashville, James Wiseman, has provided a driving force to the resurging Golden State Warriors. His mature, yet amiable behavior earns him a spot as a productive center in the league. With only 39 games of NBA experience, Wiseman has averaged 11.5 points, leading all rookie centers, and nearly 6 rebounds each game. His strong build will allow him to grow and become a versatile center, able to grab the offensive rebounds and defend the paint.
Draymond Green is known as a loud talker both on and off the court. However, his leadership traits within the team have propelled him to play an important role as a mentor and as a floor general. His pass-first mentality has been imperative to the success of the Warriors thus far, averaging 8.9 assists to go along with 7 points and 7.1 rebounds.
Next season, the Golden State Warriors will be a finals contender. Their experience, talent, and young blood will fuel them far into a playoff run. The presence of Curry, Klay, Oubre, Wiggins, Wiseman, and Draymond along with the growing potential of players like Jordan Poole, will complement their success and overall improvement. They will continue working and continue working hard. So, if there is one thing I want you to remember, it is: be optimistic and have the Warriors on your radar.