Warriors 10-Year Challenge: Remembering Golden State's 2008-09 season

NBC Sports Bay Area

Warriors 10-Year Challenge: Remembering Golden State's 2008-09 season

A lot can change in a decade. Just ask the Warriors.

The 10-Year Challenge has been making the rounds on social media as of late, so it's a fitting time to look back on just how far the Dubs have come in the last decade. After all, prior to the current six-year streak of making the playoffs, the Warriors were known far more for their chronic dysfunction than they were for their dominance of the league.

The 2008-09 season marked the last one in which Steph Curry was starring at Davidson, and obviously, Curry's arrival drastically altered the trajectory of the franchise -- in due time.

Before his arrival, well, things were pretty bleak.

The 2008-09 Warriors went 29-53. For comparison, the 2018-19 Warriors are currently 29-14 and have a chance to re-take the No. 1 seed in the West Tuesday vs. Denver.

The 2008-09 Warriors got started off on the wrong foot -- or ankle, rather -- before the season even began.

Monta Ellis seriously injured his ankle in an offseason moped accident. Then he lied about it to the team. Then the Warriors suspended him for 30 games without pay.

Ellis didn't make his first appearance of the season until Jan. 23, a game the Warriors would ultimately lose to the Cavaliers on a LeBron James buzzer-beater to drop to 13-31 on the season.

Current Warriors analyst Kelenna Azubuike -- who appeared in 74 games and averaged 14.4 points per contest for those '08-'09 Warriors -- told NBC Sports Bay Area that his experience then has helped him put the more recent Warriors' accomplishments in proper perspective.

"I know how hard it is to have a good winning season, not to talk about as many as the Warriors have had in a row ... Obviously they're more talented than we were, but it's not just about talent.

"There was less room for error with us. Because if we didn't bring it, we were gonna get destroyed."

Stephen Jackson was the unquestioned alpha on the team, and led Golden State with an average of 20.1 points per contest in 59 games played. Current Phoenix Suns guard Jamal Crawford ranked second in scoring on that Warriors team, with an average of 19.7 points per game.

Center Andris Biedrins had arguably the best season of his career, averaging 11.9 points and 11.2 rebounds, shooting 57.8 percent from the field and 55.1 percent from the free throw line. He never shot better than 32.3 percent from the charity stripe in any future season.

Brandan Wright appeared in 39 games in his sophomore season, before missing the entire next year with a shoulder injury. Two Anthony's -- Randolph and Morrow -- offered the latest reasons for optimism.

The Warriors ultimately lost four of their final five games -- including the last two -- to finish the 2008-09 season with the seventh-worst record in the league at 29-53.

[RELATED: Why Steph Curry doesn't have his Davidson jersey retired]

That meant Golden State would be slotted seventh going into the lottery, a spot they maintained into the draft itself.

On June 25, 2009, the Warriors selected a skinny, sweet-shooting guard out of Davidson College with the seventh overall pick of the NBA draft.

"Everybody was aware of what he was doing at Davidson," Azubuike said of Curry. "We definitely knew about him and knew how exciting his game was. 

"So it was pretty cool when we got him, and then he just kind of took off from there. As soon as he got there, his work ethic was off the charts. And he was such a good dude."

10 years later, a whole lot has changed.

Joe Lacob discusses how coronavirus could impact Warriors' spending

Joe Lacob discusses how coronavirus could impact Warriors' spending

Last season -- when discussing the possibility of the Warriors re-signing free-agents-to-be Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson -- owner Joe Lacob was crystal clear.

"We can do whatever we want (financially)."

That might not be the case anymore.

The Warriors -- like pretty much everybody else in the world -- are dealing with the financial ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic.

So will the NBA's indefinite suspension limit what the Warriors do with the checkbook in the offseason?

"We're looking at all of those questions and the possible answers. But I don't really have a good sense yet because I really have no idea how this is gonna shake out," Lacob told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic on Thursday morning. "We don't know what the salary cap is gonna be, we don't know what the luxury tax is gonna be.

"We don't really know what we can plan on at this point. We just have to look at a lot of different scenarios. That's what we're doing right now. It could make a huge difference, it might make no difference."

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At this point, Kawakami said: "Knowing you and your aggression -- I'm assuming it would take a lot for you to say, 'Well, let's back off this season.' Especially given Steph and Draymond and Klay. Is that your mindset still -- 'we're still gonna be going for it, that's who we are, that's the Warriors?"

"I would agree with that supposition on your end just now that we realize those guys -- with their ages -- we're in a certain window of opportunity," Lacob acknowledged. "And we would certainly like to take advantage. And that was our plan -- and still until further notice -- is our plan for next year and the next few years.

"However, a lot of things could change. And we're gonna have to adjust -- just like every other team -- to whatever the new situation is in the NBA. It's so up in the air right now. I just don't know."

One of the reasons the Warriors traded Willie Cauley-Stein, Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson III, D'Angelo Russell, Omari Spellman and Jacob Evans before the deadline was to duck below the luxury tax line. By doing so, they won't face the repeater tax this season or in 2020-21.

In theory, that would minimize the financial pain of factoring in Draymond Green's contract extension, the salary for a top-five draft pick, using the taxpayer mid-level exception and acquiring a veteran by using at least part of the $17.2 million traded player exception.

[RELATED: Lacob acknowledges Warriors could trade down in NBA draft]

As Lacob said, the franchise intends to stick to its plan of pulling the financial levers required to get back to championship contention.

Stay tuned.

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Joe Lacob acknowledges Warriors could trade down in 2020 NBA Draft

Joe Lacob acknowledges Warriors could trade down in 2020 NBA Draft

We don't know when the 2020 NBA Draft will take place.

We do know that the Warriors will have a very high pick, plus two more selections in the second round.

Golden State owner Joe Lacob was a guest on "The TK Show" podcast with Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, and talked about the importance of the draft.

"We've never spent more time -- as a group -- on the draft as we have this year," Lacob said. "Obviously, we have a lot more time to do it. I have watched video probably of all the top players. I've watched interviews, I've watched high school highlights, AAU highlights.

"We had a Zoom call the other day where I think we had 17 people on that call talking about the draft and how we're approaching it and what the next steps are. We've got no excuse in terms of not having enough time.

"Of course the bad part about all of this is we're not able to interview or get people to come in for workouts or watch the NCAA Tournament. It's gonna be interesting. I think there's enough information out there -- and enough work being put in on our side -- that we'll be able to make a good decision."

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There are many variables in play when it comes to making said decision.

"We're gonna look at all scenarios," Lacob explained. "Honestly. I'm not gonna hide this -- we're gonna look at drafting someone at our position. Maybe we trade down -- that's a possiblity. I'm not saying it's preferred or not preferred. I'm just saying it's something we have to look at it. 

"We're gonna look at all options."

[RELATED: One thing Kerr, Dubs always looking for when building roster]

The reality is that the Warriors won't be able to narrow things down until the NBA Draft Lottery is held and they know their position.

If the lottery is unkind and they fall to No. 5 or even lower, one would assume that eliminates the possibility of trading down.

Again, we will know more once those ping-pong balls are put to work.

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