Warriors

Warriors

Kevin Durant has fled the Bay for Brooklyn. Andre Iguodala has been traded to the Memphis Grizzlies. Klay Thompson faces a long road to recover from his torn ACL. 

When the 2019-20 NBA season starts, the Warriors likely will have just Steph Curry and Draymond Green remaining from their first championship team (assuming they buy out the final year of Shaun Livingston's contract). 

With the Warriors battered and looking to retool their roster, the rest of the Western Conference only has gotten stronger. 

The Utah Jazz acquired Mike Conley and signed Bojan Bogdanovic. The Los Angeles Lakers traded for Anthony Davis and await Kawhi Leonard's free-agency decision. The Portland Trail Blazers even made a move by acquiring talented, but frustrating big man Hassan Whiteside.

It will be tough sledding for the five-time defending Western Conference champions to make it to the playoffs next season. With a new cast of role players and Thompson expected to be out anywhere from five to seven months, Curry and Green might have to do something extraordinary to sneak the Dubs back into the postseason tournament. 

One NBA scout believes the Warriors' playoff hopes will come down to how much the team, Curry and Green in particular, want to fight for it.

 

"To me it's a matter of motivation," a league scout told CBS Sports. "If they were to push Curry and Draymond to the limit, those guys are competitive enough to get them through. But after the five-year run they've been on, playing, what, 100 games or more every year? That's tough to keep bringing it every single night. And there's no breathing room in the West. You can't take a week or two off."

Another scout told CBS Sports that since the West is so tough and continues to improve, the Warriors will find themselves on the outside looking in next season.

"I think it'll be a transition year for them," the scout told CBS Sports. "Obviously they're still dangerous, but look at the West. Somebody has to go."

Indeed, with the Lakers, who missed the playoffs a season ago, expected to jump into the playoffs, at least one incumbent team will have to drop out to make way for LeBron James and Davis. The Kings and Mavericks also are two teams that will look to take a leap next season and punch their ticket to the postseason, so multiple incumbents could find themselves in the NBA Draft Lottery a year from now.

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With Curry, Green and the addition of All-Star D'Angelo Russell, the Warriors might have enough firepower to survive while Thompson makes his way back from his torn left ACL.

But with a new cast of characters and a Durant-sized hole to fill, it won't be an easy task for the Warriors to secure a playoff berth next season.