It's been a long road back to the NBA spotlight for Steph Curry and the Warriors.
Seventeen months ago, the Warriors were playing their fifth consecutive NBA Finals after turning the NBA on its head for half of a decade. Then, injuries and exhaustion began to take their toll as Kevin Durant (Achilles) and Klay Thompson (ACL) suffered catastrophic injuries in the title round.
Curry broke his hand four games into last season and the "gap year" was born. After going 15-50 with Curry and Thompson in suits, the Warriors were prepared to vault back into title contention this season. The devastating news of Thompson's torn Achilles hit Curry and the Warriors hard, but they are focused on trudging ahead and re-introducing themselves to the NBA.
"It's weird because all the things you just said, I got overwhelmed just hearing you talk about," Curry told The Daily Show's Trevor Noah after recounting the events of the past year-and-a-half. "We're about to start training camp this week and gearing up for the 22nd to start our season. So, there's a lot of unknowns. There's a lot of anxieties around just getting back to playing competitive basketball because we've been out since March. We know from watching the bubble that there's a lot of amazing teams out there that have taken strides to be contenders and you see what LA has done as champions. So, we know the work that's cut out for us. But our culture remains the same, you know, me and Draymond as the elder statesmen we'll call it. We've been around and we know what it takes to win championships, so we're excited for the challenge.
"All the noise that's around us in terms of the different cast of characters and the new guys, we're going to take that and run with it and do it what we're going to do. It's going to be exciting. I just want to play competitive basketball. It's been too long sitting on the sidelines."
The loss of Thompson for the season was a hard pill to swallow, but the Warriors immediately attempted to fill the void by acquiring Kelly Oubre Jr. in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The 24-year-old Oubre is a blossoming young wing who Curry hopes the Warriors will be able to "unleash" this upcoming season.
Golden State did great work in the NBA draft as well, selecting James Wiseman with the No. 2 overall pick and grabbing Nico Mannion at No. 48.
Wiseman is a talented center who can impact the game on both ends of the floor. The Warriors were planning to bring him along slowly, but more will be required of the rookie after the injury to Thompson. Wiseman's generational talent is obvious to Curry, who plans to be tough on the rookie early on in order to put him on the path to reach his ceiling.
The Warriors will look very different than when they exited the spotlight last June. They return to an NBA whose landscape has shifted in their absence.
They have heard the whispers of their demise and are motivated to prove that their dynasty has a lot of life left in it.
It's been a tumultuous year-and-a-half for Curry and the Warriors, but they've come through the other side. Now, it's time for them to reintroduce themselves to the NBA title picture.