Consistently Inconsistent: The Warriors’ Season So Far

Coming+off+a+season+in+which+they+endured+many+injuries%2C+the+Warriors+looked+to+bounce+back+this+year.+They%27ve+shown+promise+thus+far%2C+but+nothing+is+guaranteed.+

"Chase Center San Francisco" by davidyuweb on Creative Commons

Coming off a season in which they endured many injuries, the Warriors looked to bounce back this year. They’ve shown promise thus far, but nothing is guaranteed.

Coming off a 15-50 season that saw the Warriors finish with the worst record in the NBA, Golden State fans had their morale sink at the news that star shooting guard Klay Thompson would be out for the season with a torn Achilles. However, there was some good news: the Dubs had selected James Wiseman 2nd overall in the 2020 NBA Draft. Going into college at the University of Memphis, Wiseman was considered to be the top recruit in the 2019 class. Despite only having played 3 games in college due to a suspension stemming from eligibility questions, he entered the 2020 draft as one of the top prospects and immediately made an impact on his debut against the Brooklyn Nets, recording 19 points with six rebounds and two steals. More big news in preseason came in the form of Kelly Oubre Jr., acquired from the Phoenix Suns. Oubre was coming off a personal best 2019-20 season, setting new career highs in points per game, rebounds per game, and 3 point percentage. 

With these two new additions, as well as returning stars like Draymond Green and two time MVP Stephen Curry, it was hard to anticipate the way the team would play. On opening day, Golden State lost to the Nets 125-99, followed by a 138-99 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. After dropping the first two games of the season, they edged out a 1 point win over the Chicago Bulls, followed by a 10 point victory against the Detroit Pistons. Consistency has by far been the biggest weakness for the Warriors this season. At the time of writing, they have a record of 12-12, a win percentage of exactly .500. A big unexpected victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, defending NBA champs, was followed by a win over the San Antonio Spurs. However, since then, they’ve only won four of their last ten. 

During a press conference, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr acknowledged the rocky start, saying: “The team is learning on the fly. I’ll be very honest. If I had to win a game tomorrow, I wouldn’t start that group.” Kerr knows the current starting 5 isn’t necessarily the best they have, but he wants to stick with it to build a new identity involving the new arrivals. Of those new arrivals, 2nd overall draft pick James Wiseman has stood out. Speaking on The Lowe Post, an ESPN basketball podcast, draft expert Mike Schmitz commented that Wiseman has been “ahead of schedule by what I expected” and said that the only questions are how good he can be and what type of player he will become. 

Another key to the team’s success during this restructuring season is Andrew Wiggins, a small forward the Warriors acquired last February during a trade with Minnesota involving D’Angelo Russell and two other players. His defense has been steadily improving since joining his new team, and he’s been consistently one of the most effective players in the starting five. His teammates have noticed his work, with Stephen Curry saying that “he’s more than capable as ‘Two-way Wiggs,’ as we call him now, at just being able to make his presence felt.” One SHC student, Kenji Yoda ‘22, felt the same way, saying that he felt Wiggins would be one of the most impactful players this season and noting that “his defense has improved a lot. He’s young, athletic, and already a talented scorer.” With Wiggins and Wiseman growing into their own as Warriors, all that’s left is for Oubre Jr., the other big arrival, to find the consistency that has evaded much of the Warriors squad so far. 

At the time of writing, Golden State is coming off a two-game losing streak. Both Wiseman and center Kevon Looney are injured, and in recent games, Juan Toscano-Anderson has been thrown into the starting lineup at forward, with Draymond Green stepping in at center. He’s had a good impact on the squad, coming up with 11 rebounds and 8 points against the Spurs in the most recent game.

After an up and down start to the season, the Dubs have struggled to find a tempo and identity. Without more chemistry and understanding between the players, it seems like Golden State fans might be in for another long season. With such inconsistent showings, many fans are finding it hard to tell what to anticipate for the rest of the season. Asking a few SHC students, though, there seemed to be a consensus. Ignacio Montorio ‘22 had this to say about what can be expected: “I think we can be a 6th or 7th seed if guys like Oubre or Draymond step up, because Steph can’t carry us to the playoffs by himself.” The sentiment was echoed by Ben McSweeney ‘22, who noted that “if we continue to connect with each other and continue with our play style, it’s likely we’ll make the playoffs as either a 6th or 7th seed.” Indeed, being able to connect with each other seems to be a struggle so far for this new Warriors lineup, which is to be expected with all the new faces. 

Consistency in performances and results has eluded the Dubs so far this year, but if they can find their rhythm, look for a playoff run come July, as well as a potential return to title contention when Klay Thompson returns next year.