Warriors

Warriors

The Warriors have averaged 64.4 wins per season under Steve Kerr. He'll still be at the helm next season, but so much of the roster that played a crucial role in all those victories has been overhauled.

The Finals MVP from each of the Warriors' three championships in the last five seasons is no longer in Golden State. Kevin Durant has departed for Brooklyn, and Andre Iguodala was traded away in a salary dump. Shaun Livingston is gone too, and Klay Thompson will miss a large portion of next season while recovering from a torn ACL.

Naturally, the Warriors aren't expected to be as successful as they have been in every other year of Kerr's tenure. Caesar's Palace released its win projections Thursday, and it has the Dubs taking multiple steps back.

47 wins, seventh-most in the Western Conference behind the Clippers, Jazz, Nuggets, Rockets, Lakers and Trail Blazers, respectively. That would appear to be a fair projection, as the Dubs have lost a substantial amount of talent, but likely not enough to knock them out of the playoffs altogether. It's worth noting that the Warriors' projection is just as close to the fifth-place Lakers as it is to the eighth-place Spurs.

Also worth noting: Along with Iguodala, the Warriors sent a top-20 protected 2020 first-round draft pick to the Grizzlies, meaning that if Golden State's first-round pick falls outside the first 20 selections, it's sent to Memphis. Guess how many regular-season wins the LA Clippers -- who held the No. 20 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft -- had last season?

 

That would be 48.

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47 regular-season wins in 2018 would have tied for the 18th-worst record, meaning a top-20 pick in the 2018 draft. However, the Oklahoma City Thunder won 47 regular-season games in 2017, and ended up with the No. 21 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. So, it's going to be close.

Given the top-20 protected pick, it will be interesting to see how the Warriors approach the final weeks of the regular season. If they're able to lock up a playoff spot well in advance, they might be inclined to coast through the final games to try to ensure they retain their draft pick. On the other hand, if qualifying for the postseason means losing what is a very important asset for the franchise, the Warriors could have a very tough decision on their hands.