Eight things Warriors must do to get back to title contention
Nail the offseason
It has been stressed over and over again, but it bears repeating: This will be one of the more crucial offseasons in Warriors franchise history.
Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green remain in their primes, but they won't be there forever. Golden State must quickly get back to contention, so as to maximize the current championship window.
The Warriors can do that by nailing the draft and free agency. They are guaranteed a top-five pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, and however they use that selection must reap instant rewards. Same goes for free agency. The Warriors have a massive trade exception and the mid-level exception to offer. If they can add multiple talented veterans with those assets, few teams will be able to measure up to their roster.
We know the easiest way the Warriors' chances to return to title contention could be ruined, because they just lived through it. As soon as Steph Curry broke his wrist four games into the season, all hopes went out the window.
Curry would appear in one more game before the season was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic. Klay Thompson sat out the entire year rehabbing his torn ACL, and Draymond Green shouldered his lightest workload in many years. This is to say that all three should be as healthy as they've been in a very long time when next season begins.
Those three have never lost a playoff series in which they've all been active for every game. If they can stay healthy, they'll win a lot of games.
Draymond rediscovers 3-pointer
During the first season of the Warriors' dynasty, Draymond Green shot 33.7 percent from 3-point range. The following year, he improved to 38.8 percent from beyond the arc. Ever since then, he has fallen off precipitously.
It wasn't as big of a deal when Golden State had Kevin Durant to spread the court. But he's obviously not around anymore, and the Warriors need Green to get back to being a perimeter shooter whom opposing defenses must account for.
Will he ever shoot upwards of 38 percent again? It's highly unlikely. But Golden State doesn't necessarily need him to improve that much. If he can get anywhere near the 33 to 35 percent range, that will open up the Warriors' offense in ways that are nearly impossible to defend.
Wiggins expands game
Andrew Wiggins has yet to live up to the potential that made him in the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft, but remains judged by that standard. He is a far better fit for the Warriors than D'Angelo Russell ever was, and Wiggins showed plenty of flashes of how good he can be despite only playing 12 games with Golden State before the season was paused.
Wiggins averaged 19.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 33.6 minutes per game across those 12 contests, and he should be able to improve on those numbers once surrounded by All-Star talent. That said, it was his defense that stood out. He got five steals in his first game in a Warriors uniform and four blocks in his third. Overall, he averaged 1.3 thefts and 1.4 swats per contest, and his supreme athleticism means the sky is the limit for his potential defensive impact.
He also shot 33.9 percent from 3-point range after coming over in the trade, just slightly better than his career average. If Wiggins can improve that a few percentage points -- which definitely should be possible given the newfound spacing he'll enjoy -- he could morph into an All-Star.
Hand Chriss keys to center spot
Without a doubt, Marquese Chriss was one of the brightest spots in an otherwise dismal Warriors season. After bouncing around the Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers earlier in his career, it appears Chriss might have found a home in Golden State.
Across 59 games with the Warriors, including 21 starts, Chriss averaged career-highs in points (9.3), rebounds (6.2), assists (1.9) and blocks (1.1) in just 20.3 minutes per game. He also posted what was far and away the best field-goal percentage (.545) of his career. And, he just turned 23 years old.
Kevon Looney remains a question mark after battling a series of injuries throughout his career. Even if the Warriors feel like they can depend on Looney, they might be better off limiting his minutes. Sticking with Chriss as the starting center -- assuming one isn't added in free agency -- might be the best way to maximize that position.
Capitalize on the lengthy break
The Warriors' last game was on March 10. Their next game reportedly won't occur until January at the earliest, and even that seems like a longshot. So, despite the fact that Golden State already has experienced roughly the equivalent of a typical offseason's length, this one is still in its early stages.
As such, the Warriors need to find a way to use it to their benefit. Yes, they're not included in the NBA's expanded playoff format that will take place in the Orlando bubble, meaning that the vast majority of other teams won't go nearly as long in between games. But that doesn't mean the Warriors can't take advantage of their own circumstances.
The time off already has been great for Curry, Thompson and Green, who played the equivalent of six seasons in the time that most of the rest of the league played the last five. But now, they can't let that rest turn into rust. Golden State must capitalize on this long break to build the team back up to the point that it is ready to hit the ground running when the next season begins.
Beat Timberwolves at every opportunity
This one takes a slightly longer-view approach, but not necessarily. Arguably the best non-player asset the Warriors received as part of the Andrew Wiggins-D'Angelo Russel trade was the Minnesota Timberwolves' top-three protected 2021 first-round draft pick. If not conveyed in 2021, it is unprotected in 2022.
The 2021 NBA Draft class is regarded as far more promising than that of 2020, so that Timberwolves' pick could come in mighty handy. Minnesota doesn't appear to be a playoff team on paper, meaning odds are that pick lands in the lottery. By beating the Timberwolves at every opportunity, the Warriors can help ensure that it does.
Golden State could always involve that highly-valued pick in a trade for a superstar, or use it to select the next promising young member of the team's core. There is no downside to piling up wins while simultaneously bloating the Timberwolves' loss column.
Every team that has ever won an NBA championship has gotten lucky. Whether it's the luck of avoiding injuries, or potential rivals sustaining theirs, it's an inherent part of the sport.
To an extent, the Warriors can create their own luck. They can nail the offseason, capitalize on the long break and beat the Timberwolves head-to-head. They can't, however, ensure that injuries won't happen to critical players, or that transactions around the league won't make the road to a championship that much more difficult.
If the Warriors control what they can control -- and get a little lucky, too -- the dynasty might not be done just yet.