Warriors

Warriors takeaways: What we learned from disappointing 2019-20 season

Warriors takeaways: What we learned from disappointing 2019-20 season

The Warriors' season is over, as they will not be among the 22 teams who will resume the 2019-20 campaign in Orlando.

Over the coming weeks and months, all the attention from a Golden State perspective will be on the 2020 NBA Draft and free agency.

But before we completely turn the page, let's look back at the season that was. Despite the Warriors finishing with the worst record in the league (15-50), it wasn't all bad.

Stocked up on draft assets

In the sign-and-trade transaction that brought D'Angelo Russell to the Bay Area, the Warriors sent the Brooklyn Nets their 2020 first-round draft pick. But the selection was top-20 protected, so the Warriors will keep the pick after finishing with the worst record (15-50) in the league (Golden State will send Brooklyn its 2025 second-rounder instead).

When the Warriors traded D-Lo to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Andrew Wiggins, they also acquired Minnesota's 2021 first-round pick (top-three protected) and 2021 second-round pick.

By obtaining these very valuable draft picks, Golden State's front office now has the flexibility to possibly trade for a superstar or star player. And if a deal doesn't materialize, the team gets to draft some prospects they hope can turn into star-level players in a Warriors uniform.

Golden State also acquired the Utah Jazz's 2020 second-rounder in the Willie Cauley-Stein trade, and three second-rounders in the deal that sent Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III to the Philadelphia 76ers.

The cupboard was pretty empty and now it's quite full.

Paschall packs punch

On the morning of the 2019 NBA Draft, the Warriors acquired the No. 41 overall pick from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for $1.3 million and a 2024 second-round selection.

Golden State selected Eric Paschall, who went on to average 14.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists over 60 games (26 starts), while shooting nearly 50 percent overall.

The 23-year-old grew as a playmaker as well, averaging 6.0 assists over the last six games of the season.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr summed it up best in mid-March.

"Eric Paschall looks like a guy -- because of his physical strength, his power, his confidence obviously -- we could throw into a playoff game right now and he would hold his own," he told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic. "That's one of the ways that we kind of look at players and look at the league. When you watch the two best teams in the league play in a regular season game or when you watch any playoff game -- can this player on our roster be out there? The answer with Eric for sure is a resounding yes. And that's exciting.

"To be able to get a guy like that in the second round -- and watch him grow and develop -- that alone makes this a successful season."

Paschall needs to work on his 3-point shot and he will have to adjust his game somewhat because he won't have as many opportunities offensively when the Warriors are fully healthy again. 

But he proved he belongs and should be a very solid rotation player in the NBA for years to come.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Beware of a motivated Draymond Green

Draymond Green did not have fun during the 2019-20 season. He missed 22 games with various ailments, yet he picked up a league-high 14 technical fouls.

"To everybody out there who want to talk s--t about this year -- I don't really give a f--k," he said in mid-April on the "All the Smoke" podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. "In my opinion, I got better. I got better as a player, I got better as a person and a leader ... and that's gonna make me even better for next year.

"So, I appreciate everybody talking. I kind of needed them to relight that fire under my a--."

The 2017 Defensive Player of the Year didn't bring the fire on a nightly basis because the games didn't have much significance. Everybody knew very early on that the Warriors weren't going to the playoffs, and it put Draymond in a strange position.

The three-time NBA champion -- whose four-year, $99.7 million contract extension begins in 2020-21 -- is highly motivated to get the Dubs back into title contention. And in the process, he wants to resume his place in the league's hierarchy.

"It's honestly been dope as hell these last two All-Stars to go on vacation with my kids and my fiancée," he said. "But I got that itch again. I got to three straight, and I'm like, 'Yeah, all right. I knew I could do it.'

"I kind of lost that itch. ... I got that itch again. I want to get back there."

You got to love and respect how Draymond made these statements, as he knows he needs to make good on them and deliver.

A needed physical and mental break

During their run to five straight NBA Finals appearances, the Warriors took the floor for 105 playoff games. That's a crazy amount of additional basketball and it takes a toll on you.

If we assume the 2020-21 season starts around Christmas Day, Klay Thompson -- who tore his left ACL during Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals on June 13 -- will go over 18 months between games.

Steph Curry broke his left hand Oct. 30 and appeared just in five games this season.

[RELATED: Watch Steph and Klay's 10 most clutch shots with Warriors]

The "Splash Brothers" should be very fresh after long layoffs. Combine that with a burning desire to get back to the NBA Finals ... and it should mean trouble for the rest of the NBA.

"It just kills me inside when I see these other teams, so many talking heads and some of my peers saying, 'The dynasty is over, they had a great run,'" Klay said in "Above The Water," a short documentary chronicling his rehab. "I'll just be that eager to prove everyone wrong again."

Next season can't get here soon enough.

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Steph Curry believes Warriors' 15-50 year could be blessing in disguise

Steph Curry believes Warriors' 15-50 year could be blessing in disguise

Making it to five straight NBA Finals is a tough task.

Not many NBA teams have accomplished it. The journey each year takes a lot out of players.

During the Warriors' five straight Finals appearances, they played 105 NBA playoff games. That's a lot of extra miles on the human body, and it started to take its toll on the team over the course of a few months last year.

Kevin Durant, before leaving for the Brooklyn Nets in free agency, ruptured his Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Klay Thompson tore his ACL in the very next game, the last of the Warriors' season.

In the Warriors' fourth game of the 2019-20 season, Steph Curry broke his left hand and didn't return until early March. With his Splash Brother sidekicks out, Draymond Green nursed several injuries and missed 22 of 65 games.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

All that added up to an NBA-worst 15-50 record this season.

So what gives Curry hope that the Warriors can get back on the right track during the 2020-21 season?

"We still have a great core," Curry told reporters Friday during an interview after the first round of the American Century Championship golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. "We have an understanding of who we are, and like you said, it was a crazy year with my hand injury, Klay being out all year, Draymond in and out of the lineup with injuries all year, a lot of new guys. It's definitely different.

"But this could be a blessing in disguise in terms of this next three, four years we want to have. Get rested, get healthy. We'll obviously be watching Orlando and taking all that in, but come next season, whenever that starts, we'll be ready. We've had a long seven years, so it was nice to get a little refresh."

The NBA is set to restart the 2019-20 season in Orlando later this month. At the moment, the 2020-21 season is expected to start as early as Dec. 1.

The championship core of Curry, Thompson and Green still have that hunger and still carry a chip on their shoulders, as guard Damion Lee said recently on the Runnin' Plays podcast.

[RELATED: Five bold predictions for Warriors]

General manager Bob Myers and his staff will attempt to retool the roster this offseason, and get the trio some help.

But no matter what happens in Orlando or during the offseason, Curry and the Warriors expect to return to contention next season.

It would be unwise to doubt him.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Warriors' championship core still has chip on shoulders, Damion Lee says

Warriors' championship core still has chip on shoulders, Damion Lee says

When it comes to understanding what motivates the best players to become even better, Warriors guard Damion Lee has gotten a first-hand look by scanning his own locker room. 

“Steph [Curry] revolutionized the game,” Lee said on the Runnin’ Plays podcast. “But if you look at him, Klay [Thompson], Draymond [Green], a lot of guys on this team, we’re all guys that have a chip (on our shoulders).” 

Lee pointed to Curry coming out Davidson, a mid-major college in North Carolina. Draft analysts called him “undersized” and “not a finisher.” Curry was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2009 draft. 

Thompson was a skinny kid getting few looks from Pac-12 schools. Washington State, a relative no-name among basketball powerhouses like UCLA and Arizona in the conference, gave him a shot. The Warriors picked Thompson No. 11 in the 2011 draft. 

Green was a second-round draft pick. Warriors fans are familiar with the story that Green can rattle off the 34 players selected ahead of him in 2012 before he heard his name at No. 35.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Now this trio wrote their own stories, forming a dynasty with three NBA championships in four seasons. Curry is a two-time NBA MVP. Green is a Defensive Player of the Year. Thompson is among the best two-way players in the league. 

The Warriors made sure they paid these guys too, but fat checks didn’t lessen their hunger

"Some people make it in the league and get their first or second deal, then level off and be complacent," Lee said. "But everyone I’ve mentioned strives for more. We want more.” 

Lee himself was doubted, fending off insults that he’s only in the league because he’s Curry’s brother-in-law. Lee made his path through Drexel, then Louisville, then the G League, overcoming injuries along the way to finally earning a contract with the Warriors last season. 

When Lee thinks of his teammates and the desire to improve after an injury-filled 15-win season, he continues down the roster, mentioning Eric Paschall, Jordan Poole, Kevon Looney, and Juan Toscano-Anderson as fighters. 

“You just have to give credit to guys who have kept that consistent chip, who want to be great,” Lee said.

[RELATED: How Wiggins won over Lee]

Lee landed on the idea of “intestinal fortitude,” the guts it takes to go beyond expectations and push yourself. 

“Having that and knowing you want more ... There’s just a spark,” Lee explained.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]