Not many franchises in sports history have been able to achieve what the Golden State Warriors have accomplished. Was a part of their success luck? Sure. It always takes some help from the basketball gods. Whether you attribute good fortune to the catastrophic meltdown from the Houston Rockets in 2018 (missing 27 consecutive three-point attempts during Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals) or a blown 3-1 lead by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2016 West Final, the Dubs have certainly had moments during their playoff runs that could be considered “lucky”.
However, the Warriors have consistently made remarkable roster moves in each offseason to put themselves in a successful position. The most notable moves have been drafting the core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, and then signing Kevin Durant in the offseason prior to 2016-2017. But, those are not the only noteworthy moves from Golden State. As we saw in the 2022 championship run, Andrew Wiggins played a pivotal role as the Warriors were able to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy as NBA champs. Coming into the 2021-2022 season, Golden State was fresh off of a play-in exit the year prior. In the craziness of the 2019-2020 season before that? A league low 15 wins.
With KD and Wiggins as prime examples, clearly, the Warriors make strategic roster moves year in and year out. Much credit is due to the front office. But, the organization’s ability to develop young players has also been outstanding. Jordan Poole is obviously the guy that jumps out recently. Poole spent time in the G-League during the 2020-2021 season, before becoming a key player in the NBA finals just a season later! He averaged 18.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game this past year–all increases from the season prior.
Coming off an NBA championship is always a challenge for the following 82-game season. Players, coaches, and staff are all physically and mentally drained from the grueling task of winning an NBA Finals. Despite losing key role players Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr., I believe that the Warriors maintained a solid roster for the 2022-2023 season. Golden State signed former NBA champion Donte Divincenzo and 2021-2022 G-League Rookie of the Year Mac McClung to their already loaded squad for the upcoming year. Additionally, they’ll have second overall pick James Wiseman back and healthy for the beginning of the season. At 7’0” tall, Wiseman has the coveted ability to run the floor, handle the ball, be a lob threat, block shots at the rim, and is showing a significant improvement in being able to step out and knock down shots from three. Fans got a taste of what 21-year-old James Wiseman can do this past month at the Summer League. He started off with a bang–literally. After setting a spread middle ball screen for Jonathan Kuminga, he rolled to the basket before catching an alley-oop above the rim. Wiseman then dunked it so hard that the basketball landed on the floor before he did. For the four games he played in July, he predictably didn’t log heavy minutes. In his rookie season, the second overall pick from Memphis tore his meniscus and has been sidelined ever since. Having him back next season should help the Dubs for sure, as he is an extremely exciting young talent.
Next up are two guys that we’ve seen more of than Wiseman (due to injury): Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga. These two had extremely impressive showings at the 2022 Summer League. Steve Kerr will lean on both young players more heavily this year, especially during the 82-game regular season. Even though Moody, a lottery pick in the 2021 draft, only played two games in Vegas, he made the most of them. The former 14th overall pick out of The University of Arkansas put up 34 points against the New York Knicks in just under 27 minutes of playing time. Moses showed us his ability to flat out fill it up from all three levels. To put it simply, he didn’t belong out there for Summer League. Scoring is something that comes so naturally to Moody. His ability to pick his spots within the offense, as well as draw contact to earn extra points at the line are beyond his 20 years of age. After only playing 11.7 minutes a night for Golden State this past season, Steve Kerr should be set to give him more playing time as a scorer off the bench in year two.
Jonathan Kuminga was also a member of that 2021 draft class and he looked terrific during his four games over the summer. The 19-year-old drafted seventh overall from G-League Ignite showed an improvement in his ability to score, defend, and make plays in transition and the half court. In four games, Kuminga averaged 19.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists. He made some “19-year-old” turnovers, but his vision and passing are vastly improved. Learning from future hall of famer Draymond Green, Kuminga should continue to take his defensive ability to the next level. That’s what makes the Warriors so advantageous for players starting off their careers. Being able to compete against, and learn from veterans and coaches that have won championships at the highest level of basketball on the planet. Jonathan has all the tools to become truly elite on the defensive side of the ball and can continue to make winning plays for the Warriors next season. His intangibles and athleticism are also off the charts. He’s a nightmare to guard in transition, and as much attention as Steph draws in the open floor, he will have no issue finding JK on the break, or vice versa.
The Warriors, Steph Curry, Steve Kerr, and the rest of the organization have nothing left to prove. Winning four championships in less than 10 years etches their name in the history books as a dynasty. Now, I’m not saying that the core group’s run is over. Far from it. However, when the big three do retire, there will be a unit of budding stars ready to take over right where they left off.