To say the least, this season for the Golden State Warriors has been disappointing. From going to the NBA finals to being a lottery team, this has been one of the worst changes within a season in some time.
After placing second in the western conference and reaching it to the NBA finals last season, the Golden State Warriors have never been the same after their finals loss to the Toronto Raptors. Enduring many injuries like Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Demarcus Cousins, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Looney, and even Stephen Curry at times during their playoff push. The Warriors’ doom wouldn’t end on the night that Toronto held the trophy, it was just beginning.
Heading into the season, still without Klay Thompson, the Golden State Warriors were still very much optimistic under Stephen Curry as their commander. Not to mention the newly acquired 23 year-old guard who had an amazing season in 2018-2019, D’Angelo Russell. But that optimism would soon perish, as Stephen Curry went down with a hand injury that he would later get surgery on.
Things would go on to get worse as the season unfolded, leading the Warriors to make the decision of trading D’Angelo Russell to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for guard/forward Andrew Wiggins. The confidence that most Warriors fans had for years was fading each game that was played either in Oracle, or elsewhere.
Now, the Warriors sit dead last in the entire league with a record of 12-43.
Although there may be a ton of negatives to look at as Warriors fans, you shouldn’t worry too much. It can only get better from here…right?
Obviously changes will happen with this team in the off-season, the real question is what changes? And when? Here are a few possible directions that the Warriors could go in the summer.
Option 1: Pursue Free Agents
The free agency in this upcoming off-season isn’t as heavily packed as the previous year, but it does still hold some valuable pieces that could definitely help the Warriors.
One position heading into free agency that the Golden State Warriors should definitely invest into would be the Center position. Although the Warriors still have Draymond Green locked for a while, it might be time for an upgrade. Due to the salaries of Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, and Draymond Green, the Warriors probably won’t be able to land a superstar free agent like Anthony Davis or even Andre Drummond (Who are still on this list because anything is possible). A few names that aren’t known to be superstar caliber players yet, but have a reasonable contract could be Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Danilo Gallinari, Derrick Favors, and Bismack Biyombo.
The center position is very important in the NBA. Successful teams are known to have decent or above centers. An example of this could be the Milwaukee Bucks with Brook Lopez. Lopez is a very solid player to accommodate Giannas via shooting and spacing. Although Lopez isn’t said to be the best or even close to top tier as far as centers go, he’s definitely above average and brings a lot more to the table than what the Warriors (Or even any other below-average team) have right now.
If the Warriors can find some way to land a center in free agency that can fit the Curry-Klay-Green system, then I believe they will definitely succeed next season.
Another direction that the Warriors could go in the off-season could be bulking up their bench.
Having a bench is very important for teams that have high expectations. The Warriors know a lot about this, after having Andre Iguodala as their go-to off the bench for a while. Perhaps the most important pieces off of the bench that a team could have would be the center position and the point guard position (Most notably, team’s “6th man”).
Here are a few options regarding the backup point guard position that the Warriors could invest into: Jeff Teague, Goran Dragic, Reggie Jackson, Fred VanVleet, Jordan Clarkson, D.J. Augustin, and Kris Dunn.
Of these options, the most realistic would probably be Reggie Jackson, Goran Dragic, and D.J. Augustin, considering that the others are more appealing and will probably demand more money than this group. In general, these three players would provide the Warriors with an elite backup for when Stephen Curry needs a break. Reggie Jackson, not known for his shooting, is a more physical point guard that can do the dirty work on offense in order to generate points. Reggie can provide the Warriors with solid defense as well. Goran Dragic, although his age stands out, could be a very nice addition. Considering Dragic is shooting 38% from three, and 45% from the field, he could be a very nice roleplayer for the Warriors in their playoff hunt next season. Lastly, D.J. Augustin. D.J. would bring a lot to this Warriors team. Although his numbers aren’t exactly…great. Augustin would be the roleplayer that Stephen Curry could use when some of his starters need a break (Klay, Wiggins). Augustin would most likely be the option to pursue if the other names are taken.
Option 2: Load Up In The Draft
With the NBA draft just months away, it’s good to start planning out which prospects fit the most with this Warriors team. The Warriors are known to be a very good drafting team, picking players like Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson. So, with the Warriors expecting to land a top-3 pick, this could be a very exciting situation for many Warriors fans across the globe.
Although the draft lottery isn’t out yet, it’s a very good chance that the Warriors will be a top-3 team selecting this upcoming year. And with that being said, it’s time to list the three possible prospects that the Warriors could rock with.
Prospect 1: James Wiseman
James Wiseman, just 18 years old, is an absolute package for any team in the NBA. With just one season played in college, Wiseman has every basketball fan in the world excited. His rebounding ability and explosiveness is exactly what the Warriors need. James Wiseman is shooting 76% from the field, and 70% from the line (Which is a very important stat for points in crunch time).
The only thing that James Wiseman doesn’t bring to the table would be points from beyond the arc. If Warriors fans are familiar with one thing, it would be killing their opponent from three, especially with elite shooters like Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry.
But, this isn’t anything to worry about, as James Wiseman makes up for his lack of shooting from three with his explosiveness and ability to give Curry, Klay, and Wiggins second opportunities with constant rebounds. Not to mention his elite tier defense, averaging 4.5 blocks in his only three games played.
If the Warriors don’t land the first overall pick, they should definitely explore the trade market in order to get Wiseman, he’s that special. The Warriors dynasty might be revived after selecting James Wiseman.
Someone that I can compare James Wiseman to would be Joel Embiid. Embiid, the two-time all-star starter, is known to be a rim protecting, elite talent on the offensive and defensive end. His post-up ability is too strong for his defenders, along with his athleticism and speed to get back on defense and make some incredible plays. He’s an all-around package, when healthy, and has a lot of potential in the upcoming years alongside Ben Simmons. James Wiseman also checks these boxes. Wiseman’s speed is just as, if not better, than Joel Embiid. And his shot can only get better with the right training, in which the Warriors definitely have. Wiseman’s rebounding and shot blocking isn’t far from the capabilities of Joel Embiid, and can only get better, considering that he’s only 18.
Prospect 2: Zeke Nnaji
This 6-foot-eleven center, who’s just 19 years of age, doesn’t get enough attention for what he can bring to the table. With 21 more games played than James Wiseman, Zeke Nnaji proves that he can step it up with relatively close stats to top-named centers. Averaging 16.5 points-per-game, Zeke Nnaji is an absolute monster in the paint. Zeke also averages 3 offensive rebounds, and 6 defensive rebounds per game. Good luck trying to get a rebound off of this kid!
In addition with his stellar rebounding and shooting from the field, Zeke Nnaji can get his team valuable points from the free throw line if needed. As he shoots 78% from the line. Another thing that is appealing from the young prospect is his ability to post up and make the mid range shot. Although he isn’t a Joel Embiid, Anthony Davis, or Nikola Jokic just yet, Zeke Nnaji can still develop into those caliber players with his amazing playstyle.
Zeke Nnaji’s speed is something to take note of as well. In the NBA, it’s important to have the ability to drive by defenders and score the quick bucket, or get back on defense to make an amazing block. With the NBA transforming into a more mobile league, Zeke Nnaji is the perfect fit for Steve Kerr’s system. To think that Zeke can obtain that ability to knock down three pointers normally is scary.
One comparison that we can draw Zeke to in the NBA currently would be Jaren Jackson Jr. Jaren is an absolute stud when it comes to his speed and shooting ability. Jaren also provides the Grizzlies with incredible length to make it harder for the defense to guard him. I can see Zeke doing the same to NBA teams. Though Zeke still needs to develop that jumper, his speed and explosiveness can grow to be that of Jaren Jackson Jr, and maybe even better. There shouldn’t be any concern about him developing that jumper, as he can learn from veterans like Curry, Klay, and the Warriors coaching staff.
Prospect 3: Vernon Carey Jr
Sitting at 6-foot-10, Vernon Carey is a force on defense. Averaging 2 blocks per game in only 24 games played in the NCAA, Vernon Carey’s incredible length is a roadblock for a lot of NBA teams to get past.
Although his stats aren’t as great as other high-level prospects, they aren’t bad at all. Vernon Carey Jr averages 18 points-per-game, 2 assists-per-game, 2 blocks-per-game, and an incredible 7 defensive rebounds-per-game. Vernon also shoots 58% from the field, and 64% from the free throw line, which isn’t as good as Zeke or James, but is still very solid.
Vernon Carey Jr can bring an elite rim protector to this Warriors team, who’s in need of an elite level rebounder and shot blocker. Paired with Draymond Green, this Warriors team could be very tough to get past in the paint. And with Vernon not projected to be a top 5-pick, it’s safe to say that if the Warriors truly want this kid, they will get him.
An immediate comparison that I can draw from Vernon Carey Jr after watching his college highlights could be Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns, a multiple all star selection for the Minnesota Timberwolves, is an elite all-around package to have on your team. His size is too much for defenders, along with his speed and scoring ability from outside of the paint. I can see a lot of Karl-Anthony Towns, if developed to his best potential, out of Vernon Carey Jr.
Option 3: Move On From Draymond Green
It has been a fun ride with Draymond Green on the Warriors, but is it time for them to move on from the former all-star? After being a key piece to the Warriors’ success in the past few seasons, Draymond Green is currently downgrading with a depleted roster.
Drafted 35th overall in 2012 to the Golden State Warriors, Draymond Green’s highest points-per-game in a single season was 9. Draymond has had a lot of success in his career so far, making it to the olympic team, being on an all-star squad for the NBA, and winning multiple titles with the Warriors.
But, I think it’s time that the Warriors should move on from Green’s massive contract, sitting at over 100 million over four years. His stats just don’t match up with the money he’s getting, compared to other elite talent in the NBA. With the draft approaching, it would be a good time to move on from the aging power forward, and start fresh with young talent to surround Curry, Klay, and Wiggins with. Obviously now with the trade deadline over, it would have to be at the end of the season, which isn’t a problem at all. If the Warriors don’t indeed get the first overall pick, they could possibly package Green in to move up in order to get a big name like James Wiseman.
That isn’t the only option that the Warriors could use Draymond in. There are plenty of other teams in the rebuilding process that could take Green’s contract for now in hopes of an upgrade to their team like the Charlotte Hornets, or even the Cleveland Cavaliers (Which is unlikely now that they have acquired Andre Drummond from the Pistons). It doesn’t have to be a rebuilding team either, the Warriors could explore a deal with a team in win-now mode, that could use the rebounding and shot blocking capabilities that Draymond possesses.
Though a trade in this upcoming off-season is unlikely, considering not a lot of NBA teams are willing to take on Green’s massive contract, it’s still an idea that could be realistic. Draymond isn’t living up to any hype whatsoever, and now would be the perfect time to move on from the 29-year-old.
The Warriors are in need of some type of change, whether it’s drastic or mild, something needs to happen to this team if they want to be the same team that won multiple titles in previous years. With center pieces like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, they have a great foundation to build around.
The previous options stated can definitely help this team in the long-run whether it’s selecting a future stud, signing potential key role players, or moving on from a player that has been in the Warriors organization for many years.
We’ll see what this team has in store for it’s fans in the upcoming months. It will for sure be a fun ride if you’re a Warriors fan. This season has definitely been rough for a lot, but in the end it could possibly benefit the Warriors dynasty. As they can build around more young talent that can potentially be great for this organization in the many years to come.
As far as coaching goes, I believe that Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has nothing to worry about, as his roster is clearly out of shape and injured. Once he gets his centerpieces back, I believe his system will be much more successful and like it’s old self. Warriors fans should be very excited for what’s to come for this team.
16 year old writer, student athlete at West Deptford High School, NJ.
Creativity defines me.