Grant Liffmann

Warriors will face number of roster decisions in important offseason

Warriors will face number of roster decisions in important offseason

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

Despite owning the NBA's worst record, the Warriors may actually have a pretty compelling case to keep a majority of their current roster for next season.

The team has struggled considerably through the injury-plagued season, but some rookies and journeymen have turned into what could be valuable pieces moving forward. Many of the current players have won the hearts of Dub Nation, and a lot of Warriors faithful would be sad to see them go. But the reality is that if the Warriors plan to contend next season, changes and additions will need to be made.

Barring any significant trades, here are the 12 players many fans would like to see on the roster next season:

-- Steph Curry
-- Klay Thompson
-- Draymond Green
-- Andrew Wiggins
-- Kevon Looney
-- Eric Paschall
-- Marquese Chriss
-- Damion Lee
-- Jordan Poole
-- Alen Smailagic
-- Ky Bowman
-- Juan Toscano-Anderson

With 15 roster spots to use, along with two two-way contracts, the Warriors' front office will have limited ability to exercise all their options to improve the team.

Here are the ways the Warriors can better their squad:

-- High first-round pick
-- Two second-round picks
-- Trade exception from Andre Iguodala dead (approximately $17 million)
-- Taxpayer mid-level exception

If the Warriors were to acquire players by these means, that would add an extra five players to the roster, not including possible role players the Dubs could add on veteran minimum deals, like they did this past offseason with Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks. 

So where can changes be made from the original 12? 

Toscano-Anderson has shown flashes of being a useful bench piece, but it is likely he could end up as a two-way player next season for the team, rather than owning a guaranteed roster spot. Bowman has proven his value throughout the season, bringing great hustle and energy off the bench. But he is on a non-guaranteed contract next season, and could possibly be a roster crunch victim due to the emergence of Poole as a point guard and given the possibility the Dubs could bring in more guards from the outside. If the Warriors attempt to return him to a two-way deal, they could very well lose him to another team in the process.

Chriss is on a non-guaranteed deal, and Lee's deal is partially guaranteed, but both figure to be valuable players on the roster, especially with how inexpensive they are. The Warriors seem intent on keeping the 19-year-old Smailagic around in order to hopefully see him realize his full potential. Despite Looney's inability to stay healthy, the team still believes he has his immense value when he is able to play, and will probably try their best to rehabilitate his young career rather than jettison him. 

It is highly unlikely that the Warriors keep both second-round picks in the upcoming draft. They could trade the picks in a package deal to either move up in the draft, get a future better draft pick or even acquire a player.

In order to use the trade exception that the Iguodala deal created, depending on the demand for the acquired player, the Warriors may have to send picks or players away in the deal. Though, in rare cases like the Iguodala trade, the Warriors actually had to give a valuable pick to the Grizzlies in order to shed Iguodala's money. 

[RELATED: NBA mock draft: Warriors predicted lottery selection]

There are many other scenarios in with the team can do some maneuvering to keep most of the current roster. 

Or they can just acquire Giannis Antetokounmpo and all of this is a moot point.

Warriors' last 27 games will be critically important for next season

Warriors' last 27 games will be critically important for next season

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

The Warriors have only 27 games left this season, and for the first time in many years, their offseason will start in mid-April. There will not be much of a vacation for the front office, however, as they will be tasked with reconstructing a championship roster and selecting a high draft pick.

For Warriors fans, speculation over the draft, trade market and free agency will consume most of the spring and early summer. However, in the meantime, there are certain things to watch for during the final stretch of the regular season.

Curry-Draymond-Wiggins chemistry

All the talk around the Warriors during the last couple weeks has been about the impressive start to Andrew Wiggins' Warriors career.

While it is just a few games, Wiggins has shown a quick ability to fit right into Steve Kerr's system and buy-in on defense. He probably will only have a couple more weeks to try to learn the nuances before Steph Curry returns. Wiggins never has played with a guard even remotely as talented as Curry, and many assume the fit will be seamless.

However, for a guy who was used to having the ball in his hands for a majority of his Minnesota Timberwolves tenure, Wiggins now will need to fully accept that he will be playing off-the-ball. With Curry at point guard, Kerr has used Draymond Green as the secondary (or many times primary) ball-handler over the last half-decade, and had a lot of success doing so.

Making the transition from being the focal point of an offense to being the third option who often will be standing in the corner is not an easy change. But Wiggins should have over a month to grow accustomed to his new role, before taking another step back when Klay Thompson returns (probably next season).

The Growth of the 2019 Rookie Class

Over the final 27 games of the season, the Warriors' rookies will have plenty of opportunities to show how far they have come since entering the NBA. Eric Paschall burst onto the scene as a skilled scorer, but his adjustment to a new role with the addition of Wiggins and the return of Curry will be something to watch with an eye toward next season.

Jordan Poole has come on of late, even earning himself the starting point guard role. However, his 3-point shooting has still been inconsistent, even after marked improvement from the beginning of the season. As it will for most players on the team, the return of Curry will impact Poole in a positive way, allowing him to find more open space to catch and shoot or to drive and make a play for a teammate. The team is hoping Poole can be a useful rotational piece next season, so they will be watching him closely down the stretch.

Alen Smailagic still is only 19 years old and has had impressive moments as well as glaring gaffes so far in his very limited NBA experience. The roster is very thin in the frontcourt, so Smailagic will definitely see some playing time over the final couple of months. While his unique confidence on offense is quite entertaining, the coaching staff will be more focused on teaching him proper defensive technique so he can find playing time when games finally matter again.

It has been an interesting season for Ky Bowman. After opening eyes throughout the league with his great start, Bowman was sent to Santa Cruz and tasked with adjusting his style of play to better fit his future backup point guard role. In a perfect world, the Warriors see Bowman as a Patrick Beverley-type player who can harass the opposing team on defense, create open shots for his teammates on offense, bring endless hustle and energy and hit an open 3-point shot from time to time. When Curry plays again, Bowman will have the opportunity to show how far he has come in his development.

[RELATED: Warriors' belief in Chriss has resuscitated his NBA career]

Race to the bottom

The Warriors sit on the very bottom of the NBA standings but should start winning more once Curry returns. But do Warriors fans even really want that? The confusion of whether to celebrate a win or wish for a better draft position is putting fans in a predicament.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are not going to win many games going forward and currently sit two wins above the Warriors in the standings. It is realistic to believe the Warriors will surpass them before the season's end. Other bottom-dwellers have some reason for optimism that they could potentially string together a few wins down the stretch.

If finishing with the worst record in the NBA seems unlikely, then fans can root for Warriors wins while still hoping they remain in the bottom three in the league, which would keep them tied for the best chances of landing the top pick in the draft.

Revisiting Warriors' 2020 season predictions during All-Star break

Revisiting Warriors' 2020 season predictions during All-Star break

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

Surely, the Warriors must be excited to have reached the All-Star break, signaling the coming final stretch of this nightmare regular season. Of course, there are ways to find the silver linings and glass-half-full hopes for a season filled with losses, but in the end, the record is what it is.

Could this lost season end up benefitting the Warriors down the road and rejuvenate the franchise for a second dynasty? You never know.

But for now, the focus is on the current team, and how they are faring. 

Back on January 2nd, I wrote an article making five predictions for the 2020 portion of the season. Let's check in on how they are looking thus far:

Warriors finish with the fifth-worst record in the NBA

The Warriors currently have the worst record in the league at 12-43, just below the Cavaliers, Hawks and Timberwolves in the standings. A few more Eastern Conference teams have about six or seven more wins than Golden State entering the post-All-Star break stretch.

Even with the return of Steph Curry sometime in early March, it might be difficult for the Warriors to win enough games to jump four other teams in the standings. 

With 27 games remaining, the Warriors might have to win at least 10 more games to leap teams from the league cellar. But in the end, many Warriors fans -- and likely secretly some Warriors staffers -- are hoping the team does not leave their place in line for the top overall draft pick.

Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III are traded

This one ended up being correct, however, the sheer amount of roster turnover at the trade deadline was unexpected. Both Burks and GR3 were sent to Philadelphia for three future second-round picks back on Feb. 5.

With both being unrestricted free agents in the offseason, it seemed inevitable that the two would end up on the trade block. But the Warriors also traded away D'Angelo Russell, Willie Cauley-Stein, Omari Spellman and Jacob Evans III in order to get below the repeater tax line as well as reshuffle their deck of players. 

You can expect a fair amount of reshuffling in the offseason as well. 

Draymond finishes with best 3-point percentage since 2015-16

Since he shot an impressive 38.8 percent from distance a few years ago, Draymond has not shot above 30.8 percent from deep in a season. Heading into the new year, Green was shooting 29.7 percent from 3-point range in 25 games in the 2019 part of the season. Since then, he has not only failed to improve his percentage, it has sunk even more.

In 2020, Green is shooting just 27.5 percent from deep in 16 games.

The encouraging news, however, is that he is shooting 43.8 percent from long range in his last six games, making seven of his 16 attempts. With the eventual return of Curry and the newfound ball movement and rhythm the team is experiencing, there is still a slight chance that Draymond can hit a hot streak to end the season.

Jordan Poole returns to NBA, shoots over 33 percent from deep

In 2019, Poole was shooting a poor 24.2 percent from 3 point range, which was part of the reason he was sent down to the G League to rediscover his stroke. Poole reemerged from Santa Cruz in the new year, and has played considerably better, though his shot remains pretty inconsistent. Over 19 games played in 2020, Poole is shooting just about 30 percent from deep, a great improvement from his first go-around in the league, but still below average. 

He has been showing off encouraging playmaking and overall feel for the game, landing him a starting role as the point guard against Phoenix before the break. Poole has the talent and ability to be a solid shooter in the NBA, so if he can find a groove in his newly expanded role, especially with the return of Curry, then he has a shot of making this prediction correct.

Eric Paschall lands on the All-Rookie First-team

Paschall earned a spot on the Rising Stars All-Star team, and if it were not for some impressive second-year players, most likely would have started the game. In the end, Paschall scored 23 points, leading the USA team in scoring and helping them earn a 20-point victory over the World team. 

[RELATED: Warriors have third-hardest schedule post All-Star break]

All-Star games hardly matter when it comes to picking an All-Rookie team, however, it is important that Paschall shows off on a national stage to get some attention, and he did exactly that. If he can maintain his current numbers over about 13 points per game on 48 percent shooting, he could be in line for the predicted honor.

But if he hits a hot streak and raises his totals any closer to what he did to start the season, a spot on the first team is as good as done.