The Golden State Warriors have spent the better part of the last decade looking down at the rest of the NBA. Now they’re looking up, struggling to compete in a loaded Western Conference. As bad as it looks for the Warriors, though, the team and their fans have a lot of reasons to be optimistic that this dip will be short-lived.
Golden State’s unthinkable run at the top
During the 2012-13 season, the Golden State Warriors made the playoffs and lost in the Western Conference semifinals under head coach Mark Jackson. The next season they lost in the first round. After that, they replaced Jackson with Steve Kerr, and the rest was history.
The Warriors went on a run of five straight NBA Finals appearances — nearly unheard of in today’s modern game.
- 2015: Defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers
- 2016: Lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers
- 2017: Defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers
- 2018: Defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers
- 2019: Lost to the Toronto Raptors
Three championships later, and the Warriors had themselves a dynasty. But all good things must come to an end.
Golden State’s 2019-20 crash
If an NBA fan fell into a coma at almost any point last season and woke up today to look at the standings, their mind would be blown. What happened to get the Golden State Warriors, one of the great basketball dynasties of all time, at the bottom of the standings?
Here is the chain of events that flipped the basketball world on its head, sending the Warriors plummeting to the NBA’s equivalent of the Marianas Trench:
- During last year’s NBA Finals, Thompson tore his ACL in game six. Along with ensuring a Raptors’ victory, it will also likely keep Thompson out for the entire 2019-2020 season.
- Following the 2018-2019 season, Durant left via free agency to join the Brooklyn Nets.
- At the outset of this season, Curry broke his hand, leaving him out at least three months and possibly more.
- Newly acquired guard D’Angelo Russell was meant to offset some of the offensive issues caused by Durant’s departure. The team will have to wait to see how much he can help, however, as he sprained his thumb and will be out of action for a few weeks, at least.
The result of all those setbacks? As of NBA games played on November 23, 2019, the Warriors are in dead last in the Western Conference with a record of 3-14. That also qualifies them for the worst record in the league. They literally cannot get any further from the top of the NBA.
Why the Warriors’ struggles are just a blip on the radar
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst cautions NBA fans from being too optimistic – and Warriors’ fans from being too depressed – about the Warriors’ downfall this season. It’s not likely to last long. Windhorst brought up several items to consider that point to Golden State returning to prominence for too long.
- With a poor showing, the Warriors may keep their 2019-2020 first-round pick. If the Warriors win too many games, the pick will go to Brooklyn. Now, it looks like it could be a top pick.
- If the Warriors continue to struggle, they’ll have the highest odds of landing the number one overall pick in the NBA Draft.
- They still have a $17 million trade exception after dealing Andre Iguodala.
- Thompson, Green, and Curry still make up a formidable core when healthy. The Warriors have that trio locked up under long-term deals.
- The team’s new arena has season ticket and suite deals in place, ensuring a steady revenue flow.
When the Philadelphia 76ers intentionally tanked several seasons to acquire top draft picks, it was known as “The Process.” Windhorst says you can probably refer to this time frame for the Warriors as “The Hiatus.” They’ll be back in contention within a year or two.