Six Warriors storylines to watch heading into 2019-20 season
For the first time in three seasons, the Warriors will enter a season without Durant in the lineup. Durant left the Bay Area for the Brooklyn Nets last month, casting a glaring hole in the Warriors lineup.
Last season, he averaged 26 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists amid reports he was leaving Golden State in free agency. By the postseason, he was playing arguably the best basketball of his career before a calf and Achilles tear ended his final season with the Warriors.
Without Durant, the Warriors will need to hope their roster is balanced enough to withstand the absence of his numbers.
Klay Thompson injury
After tearing his ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, Thompson is expected to miss most of the 2019-20 season. With Thompson out, the Warriors are left to figure out how to make up the 20 points per game he provides.
While the injury could have a return date of six to eight months, Thompson says he wants to take his time during his rehab.
"I don't want to rush it because I want to play until I'm 38, 39, 40 years old," Thompson told ESPN last month. "That's my plan, especially with the way I can shoot the ball. I'd love to see the floor this season. Don't know when that is. I doubt it's before the All-Star break. But at some point, it will be a goal of mine."
Fortunately for the Warriors -- the league seems to be on their side -- shelving road matchups with the Bucks, Lakers, and Clippers to the backend of the schedule, presumably when Thompson will be back. If Golden State can stay in playoff contention while he rehabs, the team could be primed for another playoff run.
Golden State's All-Star summer consolation prize promises to change Golden State's offensive identity. Known as a pick-and-roll initiator, Russell's style will clash with the Warriors pass-heavy offense. The adjustment will be aided by the addition of big man Willie Cauley-Stein, who is expected to be paired on-court with Russell.
Last season, Russell averaged 21.1 points and seven assists in 81 games last season with the Brooklyn Nets. In his best season as a pro, Russell made his first NBA All-Star team and finished second in voting for the league's Most Improved Player. If Russell can continue that play, the Warriors should be fine.
Stephen Curry: MVP?
Last time Curry was on a roster without Durant, he put together one of the best offensive seasons in NBA history, winning the league's first unanimous MVP.
Now, with Durant gone and Thompson more than half the season, more of the offensive burden will rest on Curry's shoulders.
While he had his best year as a pro last season, Cauley-Stein has built up a reputation of being inconsistent. Without a starting center, the Dubs signed the big man to two-year deal slightly above the veteran's minimum.
Cauley Stein, 26, will have opportunities for a big payday if he can flourish within the team's offense and become a rim protector on the defensive end.
Will the Warriors make the playoffs?
With Golden State's post-KD era coming into form, basketball pundits have wondered if the team will even be in playoff contention. So far, the Warriors have brushed aside any notion of that reality.
About an hour after Golden State lost the NBA Finals in June, Warriors forward Draymond Green promised his team wouldn't miss a beat.
"I think everybody thinks it's kind of the end of us," Green said. "But that's just not smart. We're not done yet. We lost this year. Clearly just wasn't our year, but that's how the cookie crumbles sometimes. But, yeah, I hear a lot of that noise, it's the end of a run and all that jazz. I don't see it happening though."
"I just laugh at it," Curry added during his second annual Warriors All-Girls basketball camp in Oakland on Monday afternoon. "Anybody can say anything about anything nowadays and it can pick up steam. So we've had lots of support. We've had a lot of criticism on the way that doesn't change now. Just what they're saying is different so doesn't change how we go about our business."