Are the Warriors done or is it time for another championship run? To one Eastern Conference executive, you can't even count on the Warriors making the playoffs this upcoming NBA season.
"I think they have almost no shot at the playoffs," one anonymous Eastern Conference exec said to ESPN. "Unless Draymond [Green] has a renaissance, Steph [Curry] might be everything that he's ever been and they still might not make the playoffs."
With a healthy Curry and Klay Thompson thought to be returning to the Warriors' backcourt this season, Golden State was expected to be right back in the title hunt this season after finishing last season with the worst record in the league. But it appears Thompson tearing his Achilles, along with the Western Conference continuing to load, has changed the outlook of this team. Perhaps that's a good thing, though.
This Warriors team has plenty of similarities with their 2012-13 squad, which upset the No. 3-seeded Denver Nuggets in the playoffs. They have the star veterans with a chip on their shoulder in Curry and Green, a top draft pick in James Wiseman, the young players still proving themselves in Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre and their bench has the energetic veterans in Kent Bazemore and Brad Wanamaker.
That list doesn't even include Eric Paschall, who was named First-Team All-Rookie last season as a second-round draft pick.
In a panel of six experts, ESPN on Monday predicted the Warriors will finish 36-36 in the regular season. That would give them the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference and place them in the play-in tournament, which will include the No. 7 through No. 10 seeds. Underdog Season appears to have come to San Francisco.
The Warriors aren't who they once were. They don't have Klay, and they don't have Kevin Durant. They don't even Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston or other key veterans from their dynasty. But they do still have Steph and Draymond, along with a lot of pieces that resemble the team that jumpstarted this franchise.
Let the Warriors be doubted. It might be exactly what they need.