It's a wrap on the 2019-20 season for the Golden State Warriors as they turn their attention towards the draft, free agency and 2020-21.
What a year it's been for the Warriors who have endured more change over the last 12 months than any other team in the league. After reaching the NBA Finals each of the previous five years, this season offered somewhat the opportunity for a reset.
The Warriors moved into their brand new downtown San Francisco arena, the Chase Center, and put forth a decidedly different look from the opening tip.
Klay Thompson - who suffered a torn ACL in Game 6 of the Finals against the Toronto Raptors - did not appear in any games even as some left open the hope of a late-season return. Kevin Durant, likewise sitting out the year while recovering from a ruptured Achilles sustained in the Finals, opted to leave for the Brooklyn Nets after three eventful seasons with Golden State.
2019 All-Star D'Angelo Russell, acquired in a sign-and-trade for Durant and a curious long-term fit given the presence of Thompson and Stephen Curry, battled his own on-again, off-again injuries and played in just 33 games before being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves at the trade deadline for Andrew Wiggins.
Speaking of Curry, the two-time MVP, fan favourite and face of the franchise broke his left hand just four games into the season and did not return until March 5 against the Raptors, less than a week before the season was suspended indefinitely.
Gone too were mainstays Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston. Iguodala was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in order to shed salary while Livingston decided to retire following a 15-year career, the final five of which came with the Warriors.
All of the upheaval combined with a capped out team with few options to add major pieces left Draymond Green to spend the majority of the season playing alongside unproven first or second year players, stop-gap veterans on short-term deals or reclamation projects.
The result? An NBA-worst 15-50 record that leaves Golden State with the best odds to land the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft.
Lots of questions remain for the Warriors as they turn the page towards 2020-21, so a group of our Global NBA.com writers came together to play fact or fiction with some of the burning topics central to Golden State's next chapter.
Fact or Fiction: The Warriors should trade the No. 1 overall pick
Micah Adams, NBA.com Global (@MicahAdams13): Fiction. While I fully adhere to the notion that the Warriors are in win-now mode, they shouldn't mortgage every significant asset for a shot in 2021. There's value in keeping picks, taking big swings and building bridges from one era to the next. If Golden State strives to be the next iteration of the San Antonio Spurs, it would be wise to follow the model of strategically building through the draft just as the Spurs once groomed Kawhi Leonard while simultaneously contending with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
Juan Estevez, NBA.com Argentina (@JuanEstevez90): Fact. I don't see any of the projected number one picks being that useful for the Warriors, who need solutions right away to take advantage of the last years of the peak of their stars. They can't wait for the development of a young player. At least not for the ones that are available this year.
I think it would be a much interesting question if they get the third or fourth pick, because they wouldn't get that much value on a trade for those and I actually think that a player like Onyeka Okongwu could help them. But if they get the first pick, they should definitely look for a trade for a proven starter.
Agustin Aboy, NBA.com Argentina (@aboyagustin): Fact. The Warriors already have a championship caliber core with Curry, Thompson, Green and Wiggins, and the top of this draft doesn't feature a sure thing. So go for it right now. If there's a good offer that could improve next season's team, they should make a trade.
Scott Rafferty, NBA.com Canada (@crabdribbles): Fiction. So we're assuming the Warriors will get the No. 1 pick? If they do, I'm not sure they should trade it. Even though this class isn't known for its depth, the thought of putting Obi Toppin, Anthony Edwards or James Wiseman around Curry, Thompson, Wiggins and Green is intriguing.
Fact or Fiction: Andrew Wiggins will play the entire 2020-21 season for the Warriors
Juan Estevez (@JuanEstevez90): Fact. I just don't see any team trading for Wiggins at this point. Maybe it could happen on a package with the number one pick before the season starts, but that's the only scenario I see possible. If Wiggins struggles, trading him will be very difficult. And if he plays well in Steve Kerr's system, it wouldn't make a lot of sense to move him. Should he thrive it's probably going to be more as a role player than a 25-point scorer, which places a ceiling on his value around the league. Having said that, I have a weird confidence that he's going to be really good playing next to a healthy Curry and a healthy Thompson. I really like that fit.
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): Fact. Partly because I'm optimistic about his fit with Curry, Thompson and Green, partly because I'm not sure they'll be able to find someone to take on his contract even if they do want to trade him.
Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): Fact. I might be in the minority but I'm buying stock in the idea that Wiggins can slot in perfectly next to Curry, Thompson and Green. While his massive cap figure (Wiggins is on the books for $29.5M next season and owed over $95M over the next three years) means he's a prime candidate to be moved with draft picks for another win-now piece, he fits a position of need and has enough upside and versatility to figure into Golden State's present and future. He may not be the franchise player many envisioned when the Timberwolves drafted him No. 1 overall in 2014, I do think the pendulum has swung too far the other direction to the point where Wiggins has become underrated.
Agustin Aboy (@aboyagustin): Fact. The Russell for Wiggins trade seems to be one made for the future. The Canadian player fits better next to Curry and Thompson and provides Golden State with a skilled and athletic player on the wing. Wiggins wasn't able to thrive in a featured role with Minnesota, but his new role in Golden State seems to fit him well.
Fact or Fiction: Stephen Curry will re-emerge as an MVP candidate in 2021
Agustin Aboy (@aboyagustin): Fact. This is pretty straight forward. A player like Steph is always in the MVP race until he proves otherwise. He will still be the face of the team and the offensive leader for a Warriors team ready to contend.
Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): Fact. Would I personally tab Curry as a likely MVP in 2021? No. I'd slot him behind Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Luka Doncic and the Los Angeles Lakers' duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. But the narrative - everyone's favourite word! - will certainly be there if the Warriors are able to parlay a clean bill of health and fresh start into a top-3 finish in the West. I'm looking forward to watching the pre-Durant Curry re-emerge in Golden State as a massive star that elevates everyone and everything around him.
Juan Estevez (@JuanEstevez90): Fiction. I think he's going to have a very good year and maybe be in the race at some point of the season, but when it's all said and done, I just don't see Curry being able to match the production of some others at this point of his career. I think 99% of the fans of the league (me included) would like that to happen because Curry remains one of the most entertaining players we have ever seen, but I don't see it happening. I hope he proves me wrong.
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): Fact ... as long as he can stay healthy. He's still one of the best players in the league and his game should age well. If the Warriors establish themselves as a top team in the Western Conference again, which I think they will, Curry will almost certainly be in the MVP race.
Fact or Fiction: Klay Thompson will make the All-Star team in 2021
Agustin Aboy (@aboyagustin): Fact. Klay was an All-Star on the last five seasons that he played and his spot wasn't ever in doubt. The West is really loaded on perimeter players and stars like Paul George missed the ASG in 2020, but if he pours in more than 20 points, hovers around 40% on 3s and continues to defend at a high level, he should be an All-Star playing for a good Warriors team. Also they don't have a roster that's really deep, so Kerr will have to give him a lot of minutes and will not be able to "load manage" Klay too much.
Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): Fiction. I love Thompson and while I expect him to eventually make a full recovery, it might be too much to expect it to happen right out of the gates. Unlike Curry, Harden and Damian Lillard, Thompson isn't a shoo-in if healthy anyways and in a loaded Western Conference, I wouldn't bank on the other Splash Brother returning to All-Star status in Year 1 of post-ACL recovery.
Juan Estevez (@JuanEstevez90): Fact. This is really difficult to predict because it will depend a lot on the Warriors record, but I think that he's going to have a good recovery from his injury and go back to his 3-and-D greatness, with a boost on his offensive production related to the exit of Kevin Durant. Thompson is probably going to be the second option of the 2020-21 Warriors and if the team rises near the top of the standings, he will immediately be considered for an All-Star spot. The West has a lot of depth, but I can see him taking the spot of someone like Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook or even Donovan Mitchell.
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): Fiction. I think Thompson will recover well from this injury, but I wouldn't be surprised if it takes him some time to work his way back given how much time he has missed. Plus, the Western Conference is stacked right now. It's not hard to come up with 10 likely All-Stars next season, leaving only a few spots up for grabs for players like Thompson. I think he's more likely to be an All-Star again in 2022.
Fact or Fiction: Draymond Green remains an All-Star calibre player after turning 30
Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): Fiction. While I still think Green, who turned 30 in March, has the game to be the third-best player on a championship team, I think his days as an All-Star are over. He's more valuable in Golden State than he would be anywhere else given his defensive ability, high IQ and playmaking skills, but he's a player that could slip more than most after losing a step. For someone that relies more heavily on motor and instinct, the margin for error just isn't that large when forecasting Green's potential as an All-Star type of player moving forward.
Agustin Aboy (@aboyagustin): Fiction. Green had a poor 2019-20 season without his "Splash Family" around him, but he's been in decline since the 2017-18 championship. He's still able to get triple-doubles and contribute on defence, but his best days seem to be in the past.
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): Fact. I don't necessarily think Green will be an All-Star next season, but he could certainly be an All-Star calibre player. As much as he struggled this season, a healthy Curry and Thompson will allow him to play more to his strengths again. He's also still one of the best defenders in the league. He'll still play a big role in Golden State's success.
Juan Estevez (@JuanEstevez90): Fiction. We know that he needs good players around to maximize his potential, but let's look at his numbers for a minute: 8.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists with a decline in both steals and blocks ... all while shooting 38.9% from the field and 27.9% from three. Would he be much more valuable playing again with Steph and Klay? Sure. But it would be very surprising to see him go all the way back to All-Star level.
Fact or Fiction: The Warriors can win the NBA title in 2021
Juan Estevez (@JuanEstevez90): Fact. I don't think they will start the season as favourites, but can they win it? Of course. A lot will depend on the health of their stars, but a group with Curry, Thompson, Wiggins, Green and one of the first picks of the draft (or the player they get on return) warrants automatic consideration. One thing is for sure: they need to address their depth because right now they're too thin. Given the lack of cap space, they'll need to get creative to fill in the margins.
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): Fact. Can they? Sure. Will they? I don't think so. I could see them being contenders, but their depth worries me. Until we know who they can surround Curry, Thompson, Green and Wiggins with, it's hard for me to see them winning it all.
Agustin Aboy (@aboyagustin): Fact. A superstar like Curry. A great complementary star like Thompson. Players that aren't All-Stars but fit well on the team like Wiggins and Green. They all know the organization, the coach has been there for years and they'll be well rested. Golden State may not be the top contender, but it should be respected in the next season. Don't underestimate the experience of reaching the Finals five years in a row. Don't count them out.
Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): Fact. Only time will tell how playing into the fall and a rushed offseason entering next season will impact this year's current crop of contenders, but it should give Golden State an early head start towards building momentum for 2021. While everyone else will be catching their collective breath from playing into August, September and even October, the Warriors will enter the season well rested with plenty of time to address the lingering questions that remain.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.