The NBA’s calendar completely has been thrown out in light of the coronavirus pandemic since Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert’s diagnosis on March 11, which put the 2019-20 NBA season on an indefinite hiatus.
The Warriors held the league’s worst record at the stoppage (15-50), and will not be among the 22 teams returning to action later this summer in Orlando. But The Action Network’s Matt Moore believes the upside-down NBA calendar will end up playing to the Warriors’ benefit.
After five straight runs to the NBA Finals (an extra 105 playoff games), Golden State’s roster will get nine months of rest before the league’s ideal start date sometime in December. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, who played a combined five games this season, will get additional time to heal and return to peak physical condition.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Warriors’ Western Conference rivals will be dealing with the aftermath of the stress from playing neutral-site games on the other side of the country for multiple months, and they won’t have a long layoff before training camps are expected to open, either.
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Golden State also has the best odds of any team in the upcoming NBA Draft Lottery, which just was rescheduled for Aug. 25. The Warriors have a 52 percent chance at a top-four draft pick and will be able to pair an uber-talented young player with a healthy Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green.
Then there’s the unrelenting lust Warriors fans -- and, reportedly, the front office -- have for reigning NBA MVP Giannis Anteotokounmpo. If the Milwaukee Bucks come up short of a title in this strange, Disney-hosted NBA Playoffs, Giannis could reach his breaking point with the organization after seven seasons without a single appearance in the NBA Finals.
The Warriors could dangle Green, Andrew Wiggins and potentially the No. 1 overall pick, something not many teams around the NBA could match. Plus if (and this is a pretty big if) Giannis goes to Milwaukee management and demands a trade to just the Warriors, the Bucks’ front office wouldn’t have much choice in the matter. He’s made no indication of wanting to leave Milwaukee, but things can change very quickly in the NBA.
Finally, there’s the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement, which should be in place before the start of next season. Moore cites league sources as interpreting the details potentially working out very well for the Warriors. With an easing of luxury-tax penalties, potentially “smoothing” salary cap implications over several seasons and a severe cut to revenue sharing, Golden State won’t be hit nearly as hard by these guidelines as many other small-market teams. The salary cap will decrease, but so will the ramifications for exceeding it.
An extended offseason, very favorable NBA Draft Lottery odds, the potential trade capital to land a superstar and a new CBA all stand to improve the Warriors' chances at a championship in 2020-21.
This isn’t to say that Golden State won’t be impacted by the economic impact of the coronavirus shutdown, just like the rest of the country, but the circumstances of the NBA’s return absolutely are advantageous for the organization going into next season.