Klay Thompson injury dooms Warriors’ title hopes
NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.
The best free agent to switch teams this offseason was… Gordon Hayward (Celtics to Hornets)? Danilo Gallinari (Thunder to Hawks)? Bogdan Bogdanovic (Kings to Hawks)? Christian Wood (Pistons to Rockets)? Jerami Grant (Nuggets to Pistons)?
Combined All-Star selections for those five players in the last three years: 0.
The Warriors suffered an even bigger loss with Klay Thompson, a perennial All-Star selection before missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Golden State entered the offseason with Thompson on track to be healthy and leaves the offseason with Thompson out for the year. Thompson’s torn Achilles drops the Warriors from championship contender to playoff hopeful.
This rates similarly to a team losing a star in free agency. Except it might be even worse. Golden State still owes Thompson $157,161,600 over the next four years.
Nobody wants to bet against Thompson. Given their financial situation and culture, the Warriors will probably keep him and hope for the best. But who knows how he’ll recover from back-to-back ACL and Achilles tears? Thompson will be 31 by the time he plays again.
Stephen Curry is 32, and Draymond Green is 30. The window was already in danger of closing. This is a particularly devastating time for Thompson’s setback.
Golden State will try to extend its reign with No. 2 pick James Wiseman, whose combination of size and athleticism is exceptional. The Warriors are a near-perfect fit for him. They’ll ask for his strengths right now – screening, rolling, finishing, rebounding – and their strong reputation for winning should dissuade him from trying to do too much. Golden State also has coaches and teammates well-suited to teaching him the finer points of defense. But Wiseman’s lagging defensive awareness is a major concern for a team trying to win now.
Kelly Oubre is a better player presently. The 25-year-old was good for the Suns last season and is still coming into his own. Acquired with the Andre Iguodala trade exception, Oubre came at the reasonable cost of a top-20-protected first-round pick that turns into a second-rounder if not conveyed next year.
The amount Oubre’s $14,375,000 salary increases the Warriors’ luxury-tax bill? Not reasonable. (The exact amount, in a special rule for this season, will be less if league-wide revenue falls below the projection.)
But it’s a credit to owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber they greenlit the deal, anyway. It makes Golden State better. That matters with Curry and Green (hopefully) still in their primes.
More of a forward, Oubre is far from an ideal replacement for Thompson. But Oubre could allow Andrew Wiggins to spend more time at shooting guard, which… also isn’t ideal. But it’s at least a tenable option in a desperate situation.
The Warriors built their backcourt depth by signing Brad Wanamaker (one year, $2.25 million) and Ken Bazemore (one year, minimum) and drafting Nico Mannion No. 48. The free agents are good value for likely rotation-level guards.
But they won’t replace Thompson.
I’m not grading a front office’s decision-making. I’m grading a team’s position from before the offseason to after. The Warriors’ is undeniably (and unfortunately) way worse.
Offseason grade: F