The Golden State Warriors' dynasty days might be over, but they are sure-fire championship contenders, just based on their star talent. Stephen Curry's 2020-21 season was one for the history books, as he broke records all year en route to winning the scoring title. He averaged a career-high 32 points per game, and finished third in MVP voting behind Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid.
Meanwhile, Draymond Green might not have an All-Star selection to show for his season,, but he was nothing short of spectacular. He put on a playmaking and defensive clinic last season. Green finished third in DPOY voting, and dished out more dimes than many point guards.
However, the main reason for the giddy optimism of Bay Area fans is the return of sniper-extraordinaire, Klay Thompson. He is projected to return around Christmas 2021. If everything goes well with his recovery, the Golden State Warriors could be finding themselves right in the middle of title contention.
At the moment, the Golden State Warriors have the fourth-best pre-season odds to win the 2022 NBA championship, behind the Brooklyn Nets, LA Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks. However, a lot of 'what-ifs' need to go in their favor for them to compete, at the very least, in the 2022 Western Conference Finals.
On that note, here's a look at five bold predictions for the Golden State Warriors' 2021-22 NBA season.
#1 Klay Thompson to hit the ground running
The biggest uncertainty for the Golden State Warriors heading into the 2021-22 NBA season is Klay Thompson's return and recovery.
The five-time All-Star is returning after consecutive season-ending injuries, and hasn't stepped foot on the hardwood in more than two years. Naturally, he will have to pace himself at first and slowly ease into NBA action. A projected Christmas return implies he'll be missing nearly 30 games anyway. And then we can expect him to miss a few more games as the season progresses, due to injury management.
Kevin Durant and John Wall both returned from an Achilles injury after 18 and 24 months respectively. They still missed almost half the season due to injury management. We can expect similar numbers for Klay Thompson, who will be playing after 13 months since his Achilles surgery.
The bold prediction for Klay Thompson is that he may not show any signs of rust after lacing up.
Thompson should play around 30+ games next season after his return, and average nearly 18-20 points per game. He is a marksman, and his success isn't predicated on his athleticism. So he should adjust well after coming back.
Thompson has never shot below 40% from beyond the arc in his entire careerm and hasn't averaged less than 20 points in his last five seasons. If he returns healthy and contributes even 18-20 points per game across 30+ games, the Golden State Warriors will be confident heading into any playoff series.
#2 Golden State Warriors to suffer no injuries
Naturally, any successful championship run depends on the health of a team's stars. The Brooklyn Nets, LA Lakers, Utah Jazz, LA Clippers and several other teams fancied their chances at the 2021 NBA championship,, but the injury gods cursed the entire 2021 NBA playoffs. At least nine All-Stars were hurt and absent from the postseason,, which never happened in the history of the league before.
As far as the Golden State Warriors are concerned, if Stephen Curry hadn't hurt his tailbone in the middle of the season, the team would have finished outside the play-in tournament seeds with a comfortable playoff berth.
Now for next season, the team is projected to be somewhat healthy by the time the playoffs come around. Curry intentionally gave up participating in the Tokyo Olympics 2020 to take care of his health and conditioning. Klay Thompson is progressing well in his Achilles recovery, and has started doing shooting and sprinting drills on the court.
Andrew Wiggins played 71 out of 72 games last season and is as fit as anyone can be, while James Wiseman is expected to return healthy as well. The rest of the team is far from any injury woes. So if the Golden State Warriors manage to avoid the injury bug, they could have a great season.