The Golden State Warriors lost their sixth game in a row on Saturday night, losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder in overtime. The Warriors are now 6-8 on the season, and in a competitive Western Conference it’s not too early to feel a sense of urgency to get things right. But is the Warriors roster in its current form, good enough to overcome this string of poor play?
“There’s urgency, for sure,” Warriors superstar Stephen Curry said. “Any time you’re at this many in a row, it’s a problem you gotta fix. You don’t want to develop a losing mentality at any stretch of the season. That’s a stink in the locker room you don’t want to have.”
Warriors Are A Year Removed From A Title
You can forgive new Warriors general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. for keeping the core of the team’s championship dynasty intact. We are only a season removed from their last title. During that run, the core of Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney played well.
But there were signs of the cracks beginning to show that were masked by the fact that they won.
Green was benched during part of the Finals, and Thompson got progressively worse during that playoff run.
Jordan Poole was a huge contributor to that team winning a title, but Green knocking him out during training camp last year ended any chance of the team repeating as that relationship soured.
The team thought it best to remove Poole from the team, extend Green, bet on their veteran stars, and help develop Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody into playoff contributors.
So far that hasn’t worked.
Curry is still playing at an MVP level. His counting stats are excellent: 30 points a game on 47/44/93 shooting splits. He’s fifth in the league in EPM at +5.9, which means he’s still having tremendous positive impact when he’s on the floor.
The Non-Steph Warriors Are A Problem
The problem is, the rest of the roster hasn’t been up to par. The next closest player to Curry in EPM is 38-year-old Chris Paul, who comes off the bench at +1.9.
Green, who is currently serving a five-game suspension for choking Rudy Gobert, is at a middling +0.8, Thompson is at a bad -1.7 and Andrew Wiggins a putrid -4.0.
Those are not the components of a team that will make any kind of noise in the playoffs.
Green has always been a player that is volatile and skirts over the edge. It’s worth it when he’s the defensive dynamo and playmaker within the team’s read and react offense. But when he’s not, he’s just a problem. He’s under contract for three more years after this season and he’s only this valuable to the Warriors.
Thompson is on the last year of a deal making $43.2 million. While he is surely going to have a stretch where he shoots lights out from three and his overall averages will look fine. He’s not performing at a level commensurate with that salary.
The Warriors are well over the salary cap and up against the luxury tax aprons. That works if you’re winning championships. This team, in its current state, doesn’t look like a contender.
It’s easy to remain high on players you’ve seen perform time and time again. There is a body of evidence that proves these players work. But time and age catch up to everyone — even superhuman NBA athletes. Playoff wear and tear, sap the body of physical ability.
The team’s young draft picks have not developed and panned out like they’ve hoped and so they’re forced to lean on these aging veterans more than they should.
By Christmas, they could be singing a different tune behind renewed play and a display of championship mettle. Or they could still be hovering around mediocrity, coming to the realization that maybe they held on too long.