What Has Happened to the Golden State Warriors?
It’s June 17 2022 and Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors have just beat the Boston Celtics 103-90 to win their fourth NBA title in eight seasons. Steph Curry has scored 34 points on his way to becoming the NBA Finals MVP. Everything is good. Everything is golden.
Fast forward to now and the Warriors find themselves in 9th position in the Western Conference with 29 wins and 29 losses. Steph Curry hasn’t set foot on the court since the February 5 narrow win over the Dallas Mavericks. Everything is not good. Everything is not golden.
What has happened since June 2022 to turn a team you would have bet your house on a Curry 20+ game and win same game parlay to Western Conference also-rans? Read on to find out.
Steph Curry’s Injury
The Golden State Warriors didn’t start the season well. It took them nine attempts to grab their first victory on the road and at home, things weren’t much better either. The one bright spark for the Dubs though was Steph Curry.
During that first quarter of the season he was arguably one of the best performers in the league, but even his best wasn’t enough to see the Warriors do anything more than tread water. Then against the Phoenix Suns in January, Steph Curry suffered a shoulder injury that has ruled him out contention ever since.
Rather unsurprisingly, the Warriors have struggled in his absence, posting a 9-8 record, with the majority of those wins coming via the finest of margins.
(Steph Curry’s shoulder injury has really hurt the Warriors chances of a second half of the season revival.)
Klay Thompson’s Slow Start
The beginning of the season was an unmitigated disaster for the Dubs and one of the biggest disappointments during that time was Klay Thompson. The 33-year-old has been a notoriously slow starter throughout his career, but this season something felt different.
He wasn’t just a yard off the pace, he was a mile off it. In fact, his form was so bad during the first quarter of the season that many were starting to write obituaries for his basketball career. Fortunately his form has recovered since, but that early season funk has certainly played a part in the Warriors fall from grace.
Not So Promising Youth
As the glory of last season’s triumph began to fade and fans looked ahead to the start of this one, there was a real air of hope and expectation. The roster seemed to be perfectly balanced between experienced superstars and promising youth players.
Unfortunately both have failed to live up to expectations this season. Kuminga, Wiseman and Moody were supposed to get more game time this season and make an impact on the team, but that hasn’t come to fruition.
Kuminga found game time not only hard to come by but almost impossible to get. Wiseman found himself in the G-League and Moody looks half the player he did last year.
(James Wiseman who looked so promising this time last year first found himself in the G League before being traded to the Detroit Pistons.)
Last season’s triumph was built on the attacking prowess of Steph Curry and the team’s collective miserliness. Finding a way through the Warriors packed and relentless defence was a tough ask for even the most canny of NBA offenses.
This season teams have found it altogether easier to get through the Warriors defense. In large part that is down to the poor displays of backup players who have time and time again disappointed when called upon.
Poole, Kuminga, Wiseman, DiVincenzo and Green have all looked unconvincing when they have stepped on to the court. This has in turn heaped the pressure on the starting five who were already not in the best of form.
It takes a lot of emotional energy to go to the well time and time again and, at the end of the day, the players representing the Warriors this season are only human. None of them are terrible players and they are clearly not where they are for a lack of trying.
Perhaps the mental toll of last season and the hurdles they had to overcome is simply catching up with the players this season. It happens, not just in basketball but in all sports, and perhaps the fans need to cut their team a little slack.
After all they have delivered for them time and time again over the past decade…