Golden State Warriors 2021-22 NBA season preview: Roster moves, starting lineup projection and training camp storylines to follow

Golden State Warriors Media Day
Golden State Warriors Media Day
Kunal Sethi

The Golden State Warriors are heading into the 2021-22 NBA season with championship aspirations. Stephen Curry had a record-breaking campaign last season, finishing as the league's scoring champion and third in the MVP race. Meanwhile, Draymond Green was one of the finalists for the DPOY award last season, while Klay Thompson's return is on the horizon.

After last season's failure, the Golden State Warriors weren't going to let another year slip away, signing a plethora of players this offseason. GM Bob Myers was adamant about surrounding Curry with talent so that the 33-year-old's prime years aren't wasted.

The Golden State Warriors, as presently constructed, have the fourth-best odds of winning the 2022 NBA championship, behind that of the Brooklyn Nets, LA Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks. However, for the Warriors to be successful, a lot of factors need to go in their favor. Let's analyze the roster moves they've made so far this offseason.

Golden State Warriors' roster moves so far in the 2021-22 NBA season

Andre Iguodala at the Golden State Warriors Media Day [Source: NBA]
Andre Iguodala at the Golden State Warriors Media Day [Source: NBA]

The Golden State Warriors have had one of the most eventful offseasons in the NBA. The fans faced draft night suspense while also excitement and anxiety during the free agency period.

Andre Iguodala returned to the Bay Area after two years in South Beach. The 2015 Finals MVP is 37 now and might not be able to have the same production on the court as he once did. But his mere presence in the locker room should be uplifting for the entire team.

Andre Iguodala’s expected role with the Warriors-On court organizing force off the bench-Mentor to young wings like Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody-Confidant for Steph Curry and Draymond Green, helping them maintain sanity…

The Warriors waived Alen Smailagic and traded Marquese Chriss while upgrading Juan Toscano-Anderson from a two-way contract to a multi-year deal. The team also signed Gary Payton II, but their 15th roster spot is still open, with the likes of Mychal Mulder looking to grab it.

More importantly, the Golden State Warriors drafted Jonathan Kuminga as the 7th overall pick and Moses Moody as the 14th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. The team was going to package the picks to get a veteran, but eventually settled on two talented youngsters.

The decision to draft inexperienced teenagers wasn't well received by the fanbase, as the team is in win-now mode now. Only time will tell if selecting these players was the right call.

Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody showed they might be able to help the Warriors earlier than expected in their Summer League debut (via @MontePooleNBCS)

Draymond Green reportedly texted Bob Myers during the 2021 NBA Draft and suggested Kuming and Moody.

The Golden State Warriors also addressed their need for a floor-spacing big man and shooting off the bench. They signed Nemanja Bjelica and Otto Porter Jr. to address those glaring holes in their backup frontcourt.

Otto Porter Jr. on what he's been told his role will be with the Warriors: "Space the floor, knock down my corner 3's. ... Move off the ball as well, then defend."

Nico Mannion, the second-round pick from the 2020 NBA Draft, is no longer part of the roster, as he decided to take his talents to Italy. And finally, the team signed Avery Bradley as a backup guard.

He is one of the best perimeter stoppers in the league, and shoots at a 36.3% clip from beyond the arc. He could serve as a replacement for Klay Thompson in the lineup while the latter recovers from his Achilles injury. Bradley could then be the ideal backup backcourt player once Thompson returns.

This was prompted by a compliment from Kerr that he thinks Bradley is one of the best on-ball defenders in the league. So...consensus!…

Important storylines for Golden State Warriors' training camp

Klay Thompson at the Golden State Warriors' training camp [Source: NBA]
Klay Thompson at the Golden State Warriors' training camp [Source: NBA]

The training camp kicked off right after Media Day as the Golden State Warriors have officially started preparing for the 2021-22 NBA season. Draymond Green has missed both days of training camp for personal reasons. But the team remains unfazed because he is a three-time champion who knows what he is doing.

On that note, here's a look at three major storylines for the Golden State Warriors' training camp:

#1 How far is Klay Thompson in his recovery timeline?

Klay Thompson participated in training camp, but didn't take part in 5-on-5 activities or contact drills. He is practicing and getting better on his own. But even the fact that he is involved in basketball-related activities is a huge positive for the Golden State Warriors.

Thompson is ahead of schedule as far as his on-court activities are concerned. The team predicts a late December or early January return for him.

Bob Myers said Klay Thompson can do a lot in camp, "just not contact, no 5-on-5." Said there will be a point -- "maybe January" -- where Klay will know he's ready. But it'll be a patient ramp up and a whole lot of scrimmaging, even high-intensity G-League practices before.

Klay Thompson spoke about his rehab and what he can do on the court, saying:

"I can make a lot of jumpshots...pretty good at defensive sliding...My timing is a little off. My reaction time is not there, but that's also rusty, two years...hopefully in the next four weeks, I can play five on five again (and) one-on-one."

GM Bob Myers and coach Steve Kerr have made it clear that they will not rush Klay Thompson back and will do whatever is best for the 31-year-old sharpshooter.

#2 How well would the rookies blend in with the veterans?

Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody at the Golden State Warriors Media Day
Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody at the Golden State Warriors Media Day

One of the concerns for the Golden State Warriors going into the new season is that they have teenagers on their roster who possibly may not contribute to a title run. Unless Jonathan Kuminga or Moses Moody pull off a Magic Johnson-type rookie season, we can be certain they'll hardly get minutes in the upcoming season.

Nevertheless, coach Kerr is sure he can utilize the young guns in the limited playing time they'll get. Moody can contribute from beyond the arc, while Kuminga can serve as an athletic slashing wing.

22 PTS from Moses Moody 18 PTS from Jonathan KumingaThe @warriors rookies lead the way in their MGM Resorts #NBASummer League win!

Here is where the Golden State Warriors would have loved the playmaking and leadership of Draymond Green. He is the ideal player to train alongside the young players so he can get to their favorite spots on the floor. The rookies need to work alongside Curry, Green and Thompson to ensure how they can best contribute in the Warriors' system.

#3 Would Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors get home-court advantage in the 2022 NBA playoffs?

The LA Clippers are without Kawhi Leonard, and the Denver Nuggets are without Jamal Murray. The Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks made no significant improvements in the offseason, and are both featuring new head coaches. The Utah Jazz, LA Lakers and Phoenix Suns are certain to make noise in the West, while the Houston Rockets and OKC Thunder are in rebuilding mode.

The New Orleans Pelicans, Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings need a miracle to achieve a top-4 seed in the Western Conference. If everything goes their way, it isn't far fetched to say that the Golden State Warriors could be a top-3 seed in the Western Conference.

Predicted starting lineup for the Golden State Warriors heading into the 2021-22 NBA season

Stephen Curry and Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors.
Stephen Curry and Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors.

The Golden State Warriors' starting lineup is expected to change throughout the course of the season. Klay Thompson is going to miss roughly the first 35 games, and Wiseman is recovering from an injury as well. Moreover, the rookies might get some intermittent starting minutes.

Then there is the predicament regarding Andrew Wiggins vaccination status. If he remains unvaccinated, he could be forced to miss all home games. So that's 41 games out of 82 he may not play in. Hence, Otto Porter Jr., Jonathan Kuminga, Andre Iguodala or Damion Lee would have to take his place if Wiggins doesn't get vaccinated before the 2021-22 NBA regular season kicks off on October 19th.

We have analyzed different scenarios how the Golden State Warriors could line up. You can check that out here. Considering no injuries and Wiggins gets vaccinated, here is the predicted starting lineup of the Golden State Warriors:

Point Guard - Stephen Curry | Shooting Guard - Klay Thompson | Small Forward - Andrew Wiggins | Power Forward - Draymond Green | Center - James Wiseman.

Edited by Bhargav
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