The Warriors have been sliding, going 4-10 since their promising 6-2 start to the season. They have been getting dynamic performances from Stephen Curry, who remains easily one of the top 10 players in the league, but this team is looking mediocre and trending in the wrong direction.
Curry is still good enough to lead a team to a championship. He can’t do it alone.
Here’s what needs to happen for Golden State to get back into the contender conversation.
Three ways the Warriors can save their season
1. Take better care of the ball
The Warriors have always been a high-turnover team. This year is no different.
Relive the iconic 28 turnovers from Warriors vs. Thunder pic.twitter.com/EnmbIXw7qV
— Andrew Schlecht (@AndrewKSchlecht) December 9, 2023
Chris Paul has been a great caretaker of the ball in the Warriors’ second units, posting a sterling 7.2 assists to just 1.2 turnovers. It’s the Warriors starters who have been (literally) dropping the ball.
Much of that starting group’s turnover problems are tied more generally to the overall decline of Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Kevon Looney. They’re not threats to score as much as they used to be. When forced into decision-making roles, their shortcomings have stood out.
2. Stop leaning on dynasty players
The Warriors cemented their place in history behind the contributions of Thompson, Looney and, more recently, Wiggins. All three have taken a massive step back this year.
Thompson has looked like a shell of himself. He’s had problems with shot selection, causing his efficiency to plummet. He is hitting just 35.4 percent of his 3s, by far a career low. His athleticism looks totally shot — he has zero dunks on the year. He can’t get into the paint anymore, either. He’s taking by far a career-low 2.8 percent of his shots from within three feet, which is a significant drop from his 13.4 percent career average.
Wiggins hasn’t been able to make a shot all year. More concerning than that is how his game has fallen apart in every single area. His assists, rebounds, steals and blocks are all down, and his turnovers are way up. Once used as a defensive stopper, he’s been one of the worst defenders on the team this year.
Looney is still starting most of their games, but he’s also been uncharacteristically shaky. His 5.7 points and 8.4 assists are both down from last year, and his turnovers have skyrocketed.
The Warriors have gotten some better performances from some of their younger players. Moses Moody looks like he’s turning a corner, hitting 34.7 percent of his 3s and playing connective basketball. Brandin Podziemski has been great as a rookie, bringing shooting and playmaking to the table. Those two need to play more.
Jonathan Kuminga has had a more up-and-down season, but his athleticism gives the Warriors a better option than Looney in certain matchups.
3. Trade Klay Thompson
Even if head coach Steve Kerr tinkers with lineup changes, this team still probably isn’t good enough to win on paper unless they get the old version of Thompson back.
If that is unlikely to happen, then they need to explore moving him.
Thompson is the logical trade piece to bring back another high-level player because of his expiring $43.2 million salary. The Warriors could potentially trade Wiggins or Paul, but Wiggins has much more money left on his deal, making him harder to move. Paul, meanwhile, has been vital to the team’s bench units.
If the Warriors do come to terms with moving Thompson, there are some intriguing players that they could get back.
Zach LaVine could be one such option. He’s in the second year of a five-year max paying him $215.2 million. There reportedly is not much interest out there in acquiring that contract, so he might be more getable than some would expect. He would give the Warriors another great shooter and more dynamic rim finisher than Thompson. In more of an off-ball role, he could thrive. The Warriors have also desperately needed a secondary scorer, which LaVine would slot very well into.
Pascal Siakam is the other high-level player who might be available. He’s on an expiring $37.9 million deal and is in the midst of another solid season for the Raptors, averaging 20.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. His 3-pointer has completely fallen off a cliff, though — he’s hit just 20.5 percent of his 3.8 attempts per game.
Siakam could give the Warriors another player to run some offense through and some more size, which they desperately need. Playing him alongside Draymond Green would create a nice defensive frontcourt with good versatility.
The Warriors have some avenues to make a big trade, including one unencumbered future first-round pick and another that they could open up. With Curry turning 36 in March, this is his best shot at one last ring. The Warriors owe it to him to give him the best situation to make that happen.
Source : ESPN.com