Hot Take Marathon: The Golden State Warriors Will Make the Western Conference Finals
If you were to ask me at the start of last season if the Golden State Warriors making the Western Conference Finals a year later would be considered a hot take, I would’ve laughed at you. But here we are as a lot has changed for the five-time reigning Western Conference champions.
To recap, the Warriors just came off an NBA Finals appearance in which they lost to the Toronto Raptors. Almost everyone believed that if the Warriors were healthy, they would’ve won, so why is it such a hot take that they can make the WCF again?
The West got better
The Western Conference got better in this offseason. The Utah Jazz traded for Mike Conley, the Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard and traded for Paul George, the Lakers traded for Anthony Davis, and the Rockets traded for Russell Westbrook. Each of these players add a much-needed element to the teams they’re on. Now the Warriors would still beat most of these teams, but they lost a franchise player that made them unbeatable.
Kevin Durant joined the Brooklyn Nets
Durant joining the Nets was a devastating blow to the Warriors. Not only did they lose their star player, but they don’t have enough money to bolster their bench, which is a key reason why they lost the Finals. With Durant gone and a bad bench to go along with an injury to Klay Thompson, the Warriors even making it to the playoffs is a hot take. However, here’s a few reasons why the Warriors will make the playoffs and the Western Conference Finals.
The Warriors still have Stephen Curry
Curry plays much better in the underdog role, and he is a two-time MVP for a reason. The last time Curry was playing without Durant he averaged 30 points per game and won an MVP. Without Durant and Thompson for most of the year, Curry will get the shot attempts to put up good numbers and since he is an efficient scorer, he can be a volume scorer without hurting the team’s success.
The Warriors acquired D’Angelo Russell
The Warriors lost Durant, but was able to get Russell in a sign-and-trade. A lot of people are overlooking this acquisition. Russell is a 23 year old point guard who is coming off his first all-star season. He has steadily improved over the last few years and his decision making has gotten better.
Russell averaged 21 points and 7 assists last year and if he can put up anything close to those numbers, the Warriors will be just fine. An important thing to note here is that Russell would be the first playmaker that Curry has had in the Steve Kerr era. The ball handling that Russell provides and Durant couldn’t is going to be key in this whole experiment. Kerr likes to have Curry off the ball a lot and Russell would be a great compliment to find Curry or break down the offense on his own. Don’t sleep on the potential of this tandem.
Klay Thompson returns
What most people seem to neglect is that Klay Thompson is returning before the season is over. Thompson is expected to return around the All-Star break and he will have enough time to get adjusted before the playoffs. Thompson is a clutch all-time shooter and has a championship pedigree. He will be a huge return for the Warriors.
With Stephen Curry along with Thompson, Russell and Draymond Green, the Warriors are still formidable and can challenge anyone in the West. Seeding will play a factor into this prediction as it would be best if they could avoid the LA teams, but outside of those two teams the Warriors can beat any other team in the West. The Warriors and the Lakers are the only two teams in the West that have three players that can give you 20 consistently.
It’s going to be hard and taxing for the Warriors without a bench, but they are champions, and if we have learned anything the past five years, it’s to never count them out.