The NBA's sleeping goliath might wake up earlier than anticipated.
The Warriors have not played an NBA game in seven months. The "real" Warriors, the team with a healthy Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, hasn't taken the floor in 16 months.
Since then, a lot has changed. Kevin Durant now is a Brooklyn Net. Andrew Wiggins has arrived in the Bay looking to resuscitate his career alongside two of the greatest shooters of all time. LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are back on top of the NBA, having conquered the Orlando Bubble to win the NBA title.
All the while, the NBA's bully from yesteryear rested and waited for its time to emerge from hibernation and commence wreaking havoc on a league that relished in its fall from grace.
The 2021 NBA season was expected to start sometime between Martin Luther King Jr. Day and March, as the league hoped the country would have a better grasp on the COVID-19 pandemic to allow fans in the arenas at that time.
That appears like it won't be the case. With cases starting to spike again, the NBA reportedly is targeting a Dec. 22 start to the next season, seeing no reason to delay the start when it's becoming increasingly unlikely fans will be allowed in attendance.
The season starting in eight or nine weeks would benefit the Warriors perhaps more than every other team hoping to contend for an NBA title.
Curry has played one game in the last calendar year. Thompson hasn't laced up his shoes for a competitive game since last June. Green, while healthy last season, was allowed to conserve energy, take some nights off with various minor ailments and charge up for the planned second half of the dynasty.
Every other NBA title competitor from the Lakers to Los Angeles Clippers to the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat, just recently wrapped up a bubble stay that was both physically and mentally taxing.
A Dec. 22 start would give James, Anthony Davis and the rest of the Lakers two months to get back to neutral, reconfigure their roster and gear back up for another title hunt after the last one lasted longer than a year. It would give the Clippers and new coach Ty Lue just eight weeks to understand what went wrong in their bubble collapse and how best to move forward.
Curry, Thompson, Green and the rest of the Warriors watched the bubble experience frothing at the mouth, thirsting to jump back into title contention.
While James was bullying his way past Damian Lillard, James Harden, Nikola Jokic and Jimmy Butler to his fourth NBA title, Curry's body was soaking up much-needed downtime after five straight runs to the NBA Finals.
As Kawhi Leonard was having his veil of playoff invincibility shredded by Jokic, Thompson had ample time to recover from his torn ACL.
Green spent his downtime sharpening his broadcasting chops while Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks once again faceplanted in the playoffs.
These Warriors are ready to be back. They have been for some time. They've heard the disrespect. The reign being discussed in the past tense.
All that is fuel to a fire to silence all their doubters that burns hotter than Nidavellir.
A December start means less rust for three stars who haven't played together in over a year. It means the Warriors get to find out sooner if what they have around Curry, Thompson and Green is enough or if further tinkering is needed.
All that is important, but the biggest advantage is that all of their competition still is licking their wounds from a season that was unlike any in history. The Warriors' biggest title competitors will limp into the start of next season still feeling the effects of bubble warfare, while the Warriors will arrive at the new season born anew after a year away from the rigors of title contention.
The Warriors' moment of revival was coming sooner or later. It just might be sooner than the rest of the NBA hoped.