Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson combined to play five games during the 2019-20 NBA season. All three will be healthy and ready by the time next season begins, whenever that might be, as the league gets some serious star power back.
Curry and Thompson will play on the opposite coast as Durant, who left the Warriors to join the Brooklyn Nets in free agency during the summer of 2019. Durant's eventual Nets debut will mark his first NBA game wearing a uniform other than the Warriors' since May 30, 2016, his last playoff game with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Durant, who missed all of last season recovering from a torn Achilles, still has an All-Star running mate in point guard Kyrie Irving, but first-time head coach Steve Nash is leading the way. Durant and Irving haven't played a game together, let alone for Nash, which ensures the Brooklyn superstar won't have the same continunity he experienced in Golden State when he returns to the court. Because of that, ESPN's Richard Jefferson, Kendrick Perkins and Amin Elhassan all agreed Friday on "The Jump" that they trust the Warriors more next season.
"I trust the Warriors more because -- if the [Los Angeles] Clippers taught us anything [this season] -- you can have a ton of talent, but it's gonna take time to bring it all together and the Warriors have already done it," Jefferson argued. "Even before they had Kevin Durant, they had already proven they were a high-level team."
The Clippers ended the coronavirus pandemic-shortened regular season with the NBA's fourth-best record (49-23). LA, led by offseason acquisitions Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, showed flashes as the league's best team, but the Clippers' iniability to put it together in the postseason cost coach Doc Rivers his job. Now, Ty Lue is in charge after the Clippers blew a three-games-to-one lead over the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the playoffs.
The Warriors were just 15-50 last season, as Curry (broken hand) missed all but five games and Thompson didn't play once. Golden State's supporting cast will look much different than it did the last time both Splash Brothers were on the court, with 2019 second-round pick Eric Paschall, 2020 trade-deadline acquisition Andrew Wiggins and the No. 2 pick in this year's draft all set to be in the mix. Still, Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green and coach Steve Kerr are constants from the Warriors' run of five straight trips to the NBA Finals, and Golden State should be recharged after not playing a game since March 10.
"You're talking about a team that has been to five straight Finals, and now that they're rested and they're hungry again?" Perkins added. "I've got the Warriors over the Nets."
The Nets have too much talent to scuffle for long, even if Durant doesn't reach his pre-injury heights. But as close as Durant and Irving are off the court, they still need to develop chemistry on it. Durant didn't immediately gel with Curry, Thompson and Green after joining the Warriors, and that was during Kerr's third season as a coach.
Even with the turnover of their surrounding pieces, the Warriors shouldn't experience as many growing pains.
"I agree with you guys for the simple reason that you've got Steve Nash coming in [as a] first-time coach," Elhassan said of the Nets. "He's gotta get to know those players, and what they're like, what their dislikes are. We also know that Durant and Kyrie are both mercurial personalities. They're not really easy, go-lucky. I think Golden State, even though the second half of their bench is kind of young, I still go with them. I go with the Warriors."