Despite their aging core, the Warriors will still win the championship

November 6, 2023 — by George Hu
Courtesy of Doug Austin
In a game versus the New Orleans Pelicans, Warriors point guard Stephen Curry is swarmed by defenders.
The addition of point guard Chris Paul gives the Warriors a secondary playmaker, and the team’s young talent has noticeably been developing well.

The Golden State Warriors have hit the jackpot in the past decade, winning a jaw-dropping four NBA championships in the past 10 NBA seasons, with their most recent being in 2021-2022. All four championships involved point guard Stephen Curry, shooting guard Klay Thompson and power forward Draymond Green — their longtime three core players. 

Despite all this success, they have been overlooked in recent years to win the title. The Warriors were eliminated in the second round last season by the Los Angeles Lakers. Meanwhile, their core players are getting long in the tooth in NBA terms; Curry is 35, while Green and Thompson are 33. Because of this, none of the 30 NBA general managers, when surveyed, picked the Warriors to win this year’s title.

Nevertheless, Warriors fans should still have plenty of optimism; they still have a talented enough roster to win it all if they stay healthy and catch some breaks.

Although the Warriors are known for having an older NBA roster, their young talent, which includes 21-year-old forward Jonathan Kuminga and 21-year-old guard Moses Moody, cannot be denied. Both players have been noticeably performing well early on. 

In the preseason, Kuminga averaged 21.8 points over 5 games, playing 27 minutes per game. This is a jump from last year’s preseason, where he averaged 10 points on around the same number of minutes per game. Similarly, Moody averaged 13.2 points per game on 20.6 minutes per game, which is more than last year despite having fewer minutes played.

Most significant to the Warriors’ title hopes, they traded guard Jordan Poole, forward Patrick Baldwin Jr., and guard Ryan Rollins to the Washington Wizards to acquire future Hall of Fame guard Chris Paul.

The veteran presence of members on the Warriors can only help further develop their young talent.

Paul’s basketball IQ has shown to make a huge difference in the past through his stints in playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Phoenix Suns. After each of these teams acquired Paul, their win count skyrocketed and easily outperformed their consensus early season expectations. The Thunder defied expectations by making the playoffs with a 44-28 record their first year with Paul, and the Suns went from a win percentage of below 50% the year before they got Paul to a win percentage of above 70% the year they acquired Paul.

Last season, one of the flaws that prevented the Warriors from repeating as champions was their lack of a secondary playmaker — and the often befuddling and frustratingly inconsistent play of Poole. The addition of an always-dialed-in Paul removes this flaw as he can lead the offense and be the focal playmaker when Curry needs to be on the bench for rest.

Lastly, there isn’t any team in the league that is clearly way better than the other teams despite many blockbuster trades during the offseason, making the league wide open. Last season, no team won 60 games or more; the Warriors themselves won 44. This is the first time this phenomenon has happened in a non-shortened season since the 2000-2001 NBA season.

It does not look like that will change this upcoming season. Some teams do look formidable, but it is clear that they still have glaring flaws.

The Denver Nuggets, the reigning NBA champions, lost guard Bruce Brown, who helped the team with his great defense and ability to play three positions.

The Phoenix Suns had to trade away a lot of their depth — which included guard/forward Mikal Bridges, forward Cam Johnson, forward Jae Crowder and guard Landry Shamet — for all-star forward Kevin Durant and all-star guard Bradley Beal. As a result, the team may struggle when their stars are forced to be on the bench for periods of time during games for rest purposes.

Even though the league is highly competitive, it is still essential for the Warriors to avoid costly injuries to their core players. The Warriors have experienced many of these costly injuries in recent years, preventing them from winning more championships. Durant’s injury against the Rockets in the 2019 postseason forced him to miss the first four games of the 2019 NBA finals and potentially led him to injuring his achilles in game 5 of those same finals. Thompson would suffer a similar fate just a game later, forcing him to miss two full seasons.

Despite injury prospects and the age of the core of the Warriors, as a longtime Warriors fan, I am still confident the Warriors can win the 2024 NBA finals and secure their eighth championship in franchise history.

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