The previous decade saw the Golden State Warriors build one of the most successful dynasties in NBA history. They reached the NBA Finals in five consecutive seasons, winning three NBA titles. The Warriors also set a new record for the best NBA regular season ever, going 73-9 in 2015-16. The Golden State Warriors dynasty was built on the success of the 'Splash Brothers', consisting of two-time MVP Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. However, in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, Klay Thompson suffered an ACL tear in his left knee and missed the entire 2019-20 NBA season.
Entering this year's offseason, several analysts and oddsmakers predicted the Golden State Warriors to be title contenders thanks to the returning Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
However, the Warriors' title hopes may have already come to a premature end, as Klay Thompson reportedly suffered a lower leg injury during a pick-up game in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday. The severity of the injury is still unknown and Thompson will undergo tests on Thursday to determine just how serious the injury is.
What the Golden State Warriors look like without Klay Thompson
The Golden State Warriors may have a rough couple of months ahead without their star shooting guard, Klay Thompson. The 2019-20 NBA season saw the Warriors struggle without the Splash Brothers in the lineup. Thompson has only missed a single playoff game in his entire NBA career and the Warriors record without Thompson is 11-14 in the regular season.
Without Klay Thompson, the Golden State Warriors ranked 26th in the league in defensive rating. With Klay present on the court, the rank jumps to 11th. Thompson is an elite defender, who locks down opponents on the perimeter and deters shooters from attempting three-point shots.
While Steph Curry is the go-to player for the team on the offensive end, the Western Conference is too difficult for a one-man carry job. The backcourt combination of Curry and Thompson is what makes the Warriors lethal.
The Golden State Warriors starting lineup without Klay Thompson is Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, and newly drafted center James Wiseman. Although Golden State Warriors' GM, Bob Myers received a phone call about Thompson's injury before the NBA Draft 2020, the news didn't deter the team from following through with their plan of drafting Wiseman.
According to ESPN's Marc Spears, Bob Myers has given the team permission to use the $17.2 million trade exception, which they are expected to use on a wing player to replace Thompson. According to Myers, the team was already considering using the exception to acquire a wing player for bench depth before Klay's injury.
Golden State Warriors' plan of action without Klay Thompson
Klay Thompson's absence will certainly be a huge blow and the Golden State Warriors aren't going to be as dominant as they were during their five-year Finals runs. However, despite Klay Thompson's injuries, many analysts aren't ready to give up on Golden State just yet.
Even if the roster isn't a title-contending one, the Warriors are still capable of making the playoffs. Draymond Green and a healthy Stephen Curry can carry the team through the 2020-21 NBA regular season. However, to compete in the Western Conference Playoffs, the Warriors will certainly need new pieces for the starting spots.
Andrew Wiggins was the first overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and won Rookie of the Year. Despite averaging almost 20 points per game, Wiggins hasn't quite lived up to the hype surrounding him.
His inconsistency on a nightly basis along with his apparent poor work ethic has raised questions on whether Wiggins can perform at a championship level. If the Golden State Warriors intend on competing for the title, Wiggins will need to make the jump that has long been expected of him.
Throughout the offseason, all eyes were on the Golden State Warriors' No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft 2020. The team was looking to add a center that would improve their roster and selected James Wiseman, the big man from Memphis.
Wiseman averaged almost 20 points and 3 blocks during his college career and if he can replicate those numbers in the NBA, the Warriors could find themselves in a better situation.
High-scoring guards and centers have combined to dominate NBA history. Kobe Bryant-Shaquille O'Neal, Magic Johnson-Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Steve Nash-Amare Stoudemire are some of the legendary duos who have led their teams to playoff success.
If Steph Curry and James Wiseman can develop that sort of relationship, the Warriors could stay afloat through the 2020-21 NBA season. Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green have to ability to combine for 35+ points per game, and if they shoulder a scoring load, the Golden State Warriors may just be good enough until Klay Thompson returns to help mount a potential title challenge.Published 19 Nov 2020, 23:52 IST