The Golden State Warriors' title hopes received a jolt before the 2020-21 season commenced. A day before the 2020 NBA Draft, Dub Nation received a major blow when their star shooting guard, Klay Thompson, injured his Achilles and was ruled out for the season. Stephen Curry and co. were written off, and many didn't expect them to make the NBA playoffs.
Nevertheless, Curry had one of the best seasons by a guard in NBA history, leading his team to the 8th seed in the Western Conference while finishing third in MVP voting. Meanwhile, Draymond Green put on a playmaking and defensive clinic. He led the league in assists for two months and finished third in the DPOY voting.
However, the Golden State Warriors couldn't get it done in the NBA play-in tournament. They squandered two bites of the cherry and failed to grab a playoff berth despite finishing eighth in the regular season and six games above 0.500.
The Warriors front office took the bulk of the blame, as they repeatedly failed to surround the best shooter in the game with decent talent. The Golden State Warriors made no major moves in the off-season despite Thompson's injury and were a no-show at the NBA trade deadline as well.
The Golden State Warriors have a short window of Curry, Thompson and Green's prime to land the championship. Their core trio is above 32, so one cannot expect them to have back-to-back finals runs like they did from 2015 to 2019.
The franchise's GM, Bob Myers, acknowledged that serious changes need to be made and that it's his responsibility to ensure that they do not waste a generational talent like Stephen Curry.
Major changes are expected in the Golden State Warriors' roster next season, and this might be one of the busiest off-seasons for their front office in a while. On that note, let's take a look at the three biggest needs for the Golden State Warriors in the 2021 upcoming NBA off-season:
#1 Golden State Warriors should re-sign Stephen Curry and the role players
Stephen Curry is up for a supermax contract extension, so re-signing the franchise's leading scorer should be the front office's first and foremost priority.
Curry is likely to become the only player in NBA history to sign a supermax deal twice in his career. Another possibility is that he could take a page out of Tim Duncan's book and signs a smaller deal to allow the team enough flexibility to lure free agents. Nevertheless, the focus should be on tying down Curry to a new deal.
After a disappointing end to their season, speculations and rumors started arising about Curry's future at the Golden State Warriors. Many news outlets suggested that the two-time MVP's patience is running thin. If the team fails yet again to make the right moves, he might consider playing the final few years of his prime for a different team.
Moreover, Curry put one of his houses up for sale to add fuel to the fire that he could be on the move. However, GM Bob Myers assured fans that their superstar player isn't going anywhere and re-signing him is the franchise's utmost priority.
There is no guarantee Oubre Jr. would return for the team and accept a bench role. That's because he could easily command $15-20 million in free agency, so Oubre's re-signing with the Golden State Warriors seems like an unlikely proposition. Head coach Steve Kerr recently said the following about Oubre;
"Klay's going to start when he gets back. So would Kelly be interested in coming off the bench? That's a question only he can answer. So he'll weigh his options; we'll weigh ours, and we'll see where it all goes."
Many of these names won't be lacing up for the Golden State Warriors next season. So who is worthy to stay and who should be traded should be the first step for the Golden State Warriors this off-season.
#2 Golden State Warriors should look to bolster their bench depth
The Golden State Warriors bench was severely hampered in the second half of the season. Players like James Wiseman, Damion Lee and several others were absent in the final stretch of the season, so the coach was forced to use an 8-man rotation.
Nevertheless, the concerning part is that even with a healthy lineup, the Golden State Warriors struggled with their bench unit. The 'non-Curry' minutes were a disaster for the Golden State Warriors, and the team's offensive rating plummeted to record lows.
One of the major factors during the Golden State Warriors' five-year finals run was a great bench. The Warriors had players like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston at the helm, which is something they sorely lack now. If they intend on competing for the title next season, decent bench depth is a must; the Golden State Warriors cannot afford to get outscored every time Curry or Green leave the floor for rest.
Oshae Brissett is a trade target the Golden State Warriors could consider. The 6' 7" power forward can shoot threes, finish near the basket and also has decent defensive skills. He could be the ideal backup for Draymond Green off the bench, contributing to the scoring when the starters are off the floor.
#3 Golden State Warriors need to focus on the 2021 NBA Draft and Free Agency
A silver lining from the Golden State Warriors' early exit this season is that they are now in the draft lottery. They have a confirmed top-14 pick in the upcoming 2021 NBA draft, which is considered to be a deep and extremely talented pool. Moreover, not only do they have their own draft pick, they also own the Minnesota Timberwolves' first-round pick.
The Golden State Warriors will have to wait till the June 22nd lottery to see if the pick will convey this year. The first-round pick is top-3 protected, which means if the pick falls in the top three spots, Minnesota will get to keep it and the Warriors will get it for 2022 unprotected.
However, if it is not in a top 3, the Golden State Warriors will own the pick. At the moment, there is a 62.8% chance that the pick could be outside the top 4.
GM Bob Myers noted that there needs to be more shooting around Curry, saying:
"I really like our defense, but offensively, and you saw it too, how Steph was being guarded. It's not fair to him. One guy can't do that much. It's a compliment to him clearly, that he got the attention he got, but that's very hard, and a lot to ask of him to shoulder that burden by himself. So we need to help him on the offensive side."
Another focus besides the draft prospects should be the upcoming free agency market, which is brimming with talent.
DeMar DeRozan, Kawhi Leonard, Goran Dragic, Norman Powell, Devonte' Graham, Tim Hardway Jr. and Evan Fournier are all up for free agency. The stretch-5 position could be filled with Bucks' Bobby Portis or Clippers' Serge Ibaka, who could both become free agents.