The Golden State Warriors will not be participating in the playoffs this season. It will be the first time since 2012 that the Warriors will not make the postseason. It will be the first time since 2015 that a team besides the Warriors will win the Western Conference. Enjoy it. Because next season the status quo returns.
You know that John Wick scene where he says he's thinking he's back and then he kills everyone? The basketball version of that is about to happen.
Stephen Curry will return some time next month after breaking his hand in October. He's had the season off and he's about to get a month's worth of exhibition games to return to form. Draft spot be damned. Ratings be saved.
Klay Thompson will not return this season, but he has been back on the court, in uniform, shooting. Arguably the best backcourt in NBA history will be back together next season. And they'll have help.
Draymond Green has not asked for a buyout. About to miss the playoffs for the first time in his career, he's also about to have a full offseason for the first time in his career. Coming off five consecutive Finals, he's earned it. Especially after he suited up at all this season.
Then there's Andrew Wiggins. Green thinks he can be an all-defensive team player, but the real question is, can he be Harrison Barnes? Can the nearly 25-year old Wiggins be as good as the currently 27-year old Barnes was when the Warriors won their first title? Can Wiggins be as good as the guy who is currently averaging 14 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists for the Sacramento Kings? That seems reasonable.
What seems unreasonable is the rumor that the Warriors are going to use Wiggins to trade for Giannis Antetonkounmpo. We can't possibly live in that world. However, we do live in a world where Wiggins' big contract can be used to get something if he doesn't look like he's going to live up to his potential surrounded by All-Stars and champions.
Then there's the draft pick. The Warriors currently have the worst record in the NBA and the best chances to win the NBA Draft Lottery. Curry's return could hurt those chances, but without anything to play for and surrounded by G-League-level players, they shouldn't climb that far out of the basement. Wherever that pick lands, it's a nice pick. Combine that with Wiggins' contract and you can make just about any deal work. Especially when you throw in three second-round draft picks this year and the 2021 Timberwolves first-rounder they picked up in the Wiggins deal.
Shoot. They might be able to get Giannis. Let's just pretend that's not real. Let's consider their worst-case scenario where they get back Steph and Klay to go with Draymond and Wiggins and a top five pick. It's close. The Warriors aren't back, but they're about to be thinking they are.