Warriors

Revisiting preseason Warriors bold predictions: What came true?

Warriors

What is the point of making predictions if you do not look back and keep yourself accountable?

Well, here is a review of my bold, and not-so-bold Warriors predictions from the preseason.

1) Steph Curry finishes in the Top-3 of MVP Voting and averages over 30 ppg

I'm off to a good start with this one. When I originally predicted this, I wrote "seeing how hungry he is to score and lead this team, I expect Steph to shoot enough to put himself over 30 points per contest and probably end up with the highest average of his career, beating the 30.1 points he put up during his unanimous MVP season."

Well with six games remaining in the season, Curry is averaging a career-best 31.5 points per game, which leads the NBA. There have been plenty of discourse of whether or not he deserves the MVP award despite his team floating around a .500 record for a majority of the season, so a top-3 finish, perhaps with Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, looks very possible.

2) The Warriors have two players make an All-Defense team

This one has an outside chance of happening.

The original prediction pointed out Draymond Green and Kelly Oubre Jr as the possible candidates to pull this off. Green should be a shoo-in for an All-Defense team, and probably even a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year. As his conditioning and fitness levels have picked up throughout the season, so has his incredible defensive prowess, becoming the destructive force on that end we have all come to appreciate.

 

Oubre, unfortunately, never was able to stay fully healthy or consistent this season. He showed brief flashes of defensive excellence and was overall a good asset on defense for the Warriors, but he did not become the lockdown defender that I predicted.

My one chance to get this prediction right will come from a player that I said could, but probably wouldn't be a highly heralded defender around the league, in Andrew Wiggins. I wrote that "Wiggins has not yet shown to be consistent on that side of the ball and his reputation around the league might dissuade voters, even if he takes a leap."  He definitely took that leap this season, becoming a premier wing defender and shot-blocker from the small forward position.

His man defense is much further along than his off-ball defense, but each and every night, the Warriors are thrilled to put Wiggins on the opponent's best wing scorer. And yet, as I said in the prediction, his reputation from Minnesota could be enough to make voters who did not watch many Warriors games this season look elsewhere. 

3) James Wiseman averages a double-double, finishes on first-team All-Rookie 

The first part was wrong, and the second part is probably not happening either.

It is hard to describe this season for Wiseman. From COVID-19 issues to nagging injuries to inconsistent playing time and eventually, a season-ending meniscus tear, there has been a myriad of reasons why Wiseman never fully found a rhythm.

Just before his latest setback, he showed flashes of tremendous upside and a growing understanding of the game, after playing like an inexperienced youngster for the majority of the year.

I wrote in my prediction that, "it might take a few weeks for him to find his stride in the league, but at the very least, if he gets playing time then he should be impacting the offense as a transition as well as lob threat. He also is massive and athletic, with a high motor, which means that he should be a beast on the defensive and offensive boards."

It was correct that he showed immense promise as a rim runner and lob threat. However, he struggled mightily securing rebounds this season and will be a point of emphasis moving forward.

Wiseman finished the year scoring 11.5 points per game while collecting 5.8 rebounds, short of the season double-double.

Inconsistency and missing time due to injuries will probably keep him off the first team All-Rookie as well.

4) Andrew Wiggins sets a new career-high in 3pt percentage (beating 35.6 percent in 2016-17)

I feel great about this one. Wiggins will definitely set a new career-high in 3 point shooting, as he is hitting a very solid 38.3 percent of his shots from deep with six games remaining in the season.

 

His long-distance stroke this season has been a tale of three streaks. In the first 20 games of the year, Wiggins made 40.6 percent from deep. In the following 18 games, he shot a poor 28.4 percent from long range. Finally, over the last 28 games, Wiggins has shot a scorching 42.3 percent from 3 point range. 

With the return of Klay Thompson next season, Wiggins should have even more room to operate and launch uncontested 3's, so those hot streaks could end up lasting longer and longer.

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5) The Warriors finish the season with a 44-28 record (equivalent of 50 wins in a regular 82-game season), good for 5th in the West

This will end up being wrong, and the reasons are similar to what I warned about in my prediction when I wrote, "there will be an adjustment as the team finds its chemistry, and there will be spouts where the team struggles to shoot the ball from deep. Injuries to any of the bigger name players would also cost the Warriors dearly, so staying healthy is the key to a successful season."

Every single part of that warning came true, and coupled with highly inconsistent play in many fourth quarters this season, the Warriors will fall short of a 44-win season. With six games remaining, they stand at 33-33, as the 9th seed in the Western Conference. Should they play well over the final stretch, they have a good shot at the 8th seed and a better position in the play-in tournament. 

6) The Warriors do not win the title

This one was a "not-so-bold" prediction, and is definitely looking like it will be true.

This team is just not a championship-caliber team for many reasons, but are on the right track to being a title contender as soon as next season if the front office makes the right moves and the roster regains its health.

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