Can the Warriors return to relevance in the Western Conference?


The Golden State Warriors appear primed and ready to return to the summit of the NBA after two years of toil and anguish. The Warriors created one of the greatest NBA dynasties between from 2014 to 2019, reaching five-straight NBA Finals and winning three championships. Steve Kerr and his side broke the NBA record for most regular season victories in the 2015/16 campaign, displaying a rare level of brilliance on the court. 

The excellence of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and then Kevin Durant was a joy to witness. Only the Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan could claim to have played better basketball in the modern era. However, their exploits on the court took its toll as Curry and Thompson were struck down with injuries, with the latter suffering back-to-back years of health woes. Golden State endured a deep decline and missed the post-season in 2020 and 2021, but now are now healthy and ready to return to their peak form with a retooled roster. 

If you’re betting on the NBA games, the Warriors will now take centre stage once more in the Western Conference. The NBA betting tips will point punters in the direction of the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz, but the Warriors could come up on the outside when Thompson returns to the fold, handing Kerr the potent trifecta that rose to the top and dominated the league. 

Thompson was struck down with a torn Achilles’ tendon last season after making his return from an ACL injury, which he suffered in the Warriors’ Finals defeat to the Toronto Raptors. He is expected to make his return from injury towards Christmas time, although it will be difficult to expect the point guard to operate at the peak of his powers after such a long layoff. However, his presence alone will be a massive boost to the Warriors, completing their trifecta on the court. 

Curry has also endured his fair share of injury problems since Golden State’s last appearance in the NBA Finals, but by the end of last season, he was back to his best, dominating on the court. Green has been the reassuring figure during the transition between eras in the Bay Area. He has not lost any of his tenacity and physicality, and at the age of 31 is becoming more nuanced with his role. With Curry and Green operating at a high level, the Warriors should be on course to reach the playoffs again, but Thompson’s return could push them back towards relevance in the higher echelons of the Western Conference. 

James Wiseman may also be a decisive factor. The Warriors selected Wiseman second overall in the 2020 Draft, but he was not overly influential in his rookie term. It was not surprising considering the leap from the college game to the pros. However, Kerr will be desperate to see more development out of the 20-year-old to ease the burden on the big three. 

Jonathan Kuminga may also be able to hit the ground running after being selected seventh overall in the 2021 Draft. Kuminga opted against a career in college and played in the NBA G League for Ignite, gaining valuable experience on the process. The 18-year-old is still extremely raw, but may provide an option off the bench and has shown a propensity for scoring. 

The big three will carry the Warriors’ fortunes over the course of the season, but Golden State also need to start seeing development from the up-and-coming players on their roster, beginning with Wiseman. It will not define the next campaign, but will define their future. 

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