The Warriors' full schedule for the upcoming 2021-22 NBA season rolled out Friday, and it features a number of scintillating matchups and storylines to watch among the 82-game slate.
Can Steph Curry build off his third-place finish in NBA MVP voting? Will the Warriors find themselves back among the upper echelon of the Western Conference after consecutive years without a playoff berth? When will Klay Thompson make his long-awaited Chase Center debut after two years away?
In the spirit of the NBA's schedule release, here are five instant bold predictions for the Warriors' 2021-22 season:
Back over 50 wins
The last time the NBA played a full 82-game season, a 52-30 record would have landed a team the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. That's about where I see the Warriors ending up this season, somewhere in the fourth-to-sixth seed range come mid-April.
Curry and Draymond Green will need to be clicking on all cylinders and Thompson will need to have returned to something close to his pre-injury form to get the Warriors here, but that doesn't feel like an overreach.
These are bold predictions after all, so look for the Warriors to end up with 52 wins and find themselves back in the thick of the West's top contenders.
The last two years have been grueling for Thompson, as a torn ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals derailed his 2019-20 season, and a torn Achilles in November 2020 put him on the shelf for all of last season.
Thompson continues to ramp up his activity, and based on his social media activity, Klay has been itching to get back on the court in a real game. Warriors general manager Bob Myers indicated that the team would be cautious, but mentioned December as a potential month in which we could see the fellow Splash Brother come back.
The Warriors have a four-game homestand beginning on Dec. 3 with the Phoenix Suns, which comes after a quick trip to the Southwest. They could get him some real practices at home, and could aim for the Dec. 8 primetime clash with the Portland Trail Blazers, with Thompson finally making his much-anticipated debut at Chase Center.
That would be news to the NBA's ears, as Klay could then be available for the Warriors' monumental Christmas Day contest.
A joyous Christmas in the desert
The Warriors will take on the defending Western Conference champions on Christmas Day this year, as Golden State will spend the holiday in Phoenix against Devin Booker, Chris Paul and the Suns.
After losing two of three to Phoenix last season, the Warriors will come in eager to bring home a victory with the nation watching.
The Splash Brothers will do Splash Brother things, and Green's elite defense on Deandre Ayton will be the difference as the Warriors squeak out a close one against the Suns.
Split with Brooklyn
The Warriors opened the season against the Brooklyn Nets last year, and had the doors beaten off them without Draymond and still trying to work a number of new players into the rotation. This year, the Warriors and Brooklyn first face off in the Big Apple on Nov. 16.
We'll see a similar result as last season in that first matchup, but Brooklyn will come to the Bay Area on Jan. 29 for a date at Chase Center in what certainly will be a full and raucous house.
Especially if Klay is back and playing well, look for the Warriors to take down Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden in a San Francisco shootout.
Speaking of Brooklyn, Kevin Durant looked like his old self during the 2020-21 NBA playoffs, torching defenses and coming within inches of taking down the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks.
Curry showed everyone he is far from the end of his prime last season in winning the scoring title and finishing third in MVP voting. He'll be similarly effective in 2021-22 as long as he remains healthy, and Curry will have the Warriors back in the playoffs with his fellow Splash Brother finally by his side once again.
It will be close, but Steph will finish second in MVP voting behind his former teammate, KD. Brooklyn almost certainly will have the best or second-best record in the East, which will be the tiebreaker for many voters.