Warriors Still Gunning for Finals Despite Klay Injury, Durant Departure
The most popular thing to do this offseason in the NBA is to write off the Golden State Warriors. After losing in the finals last year, and then going through a whole lot of change, so many people seem to be sticking a fork in the team. But despite all of the differences, the team is talking like they are still the same old Warriors. And if any team deserves the benefit of the doubt, it is the Warriors after what they have done the last several years.
This isn't going to be the same team that we have become used to the last few years, but then it's not like they are starting from scratch. Two teams in their division have improved - one significantly. And it would be tough to argue that this team is better than they were last year - or even as good. So, where does that leave Golden State?
2019 Golden State Warriors Additions and Departures
We'll jump right into the changes because there is a whole lot of ground to cover. And it's tough to know where to begin. We'll start with the internal business they took care of. They had three big free agents to deal with this summer, and they dealt with the two that it seemed they would be able to take care of all along. Klay Thompson is back for five more years at $190 million. He'll miss much of the first year of the deal due to the ACL injury he suffered in the playoffs, but when he comes back in the spring, he'll provide a boost for the team. Paying him was a no-brainer for the team. So was paying Draymond Green, who is on board for four years at $100 million. Again, the price is what it is, and all the team could do is pay it. We know how good Green and Thompson work on this team, so them sticking around is unquestionably a good thing.
The free agent who didn't stick around is obviously Kevin Durant, but that can't really be classified as a surprise. Things changed further when he hurt his knee in the playoffs, which will cost him most or all of this season. He opted to go to Brooklyn, and the Warriors were able to work out a sign-and-trade deal. Coming back is D'Angelo Russell. He's a scoring guard who is on the rise in this league, and he'll likely relish the opportunity to play against the Lakers regularly. The team seems committed to him as a long-term piece and sees him as a new, younger addition to this core. Others aren't quite so optimistic and see him as more of a valuable trade piece when he is eligible to be dealt starting on December 15. Either way, it will be very interesting to watch how it works out - both now and when Thompson returns.
With big money tied up in Curry, Thompson, Green and Russell, the team needs cheap but useful complementary pieces. And they added some interesting ones. Willie Cauley-Stein was inconsistent in his years in Sacramento, but he's a center with some upside, and he comes cheap. They also traded for Alen Smailagic, a Serbian rookie who was drafted in the second round by New Orleans after playing last year in the G-League. He has some upside and more buzz than you might expect given where he came from. Alec Burks ran into injuries in Utah, but he played reasonably well for Cleveland last year, and he is an excellent low-cost offensive addition off the bench. And Glenn Robinson III is a freakishly athletic wing who just can't stay healthy, but he has upside if the Warriors can figure out how to keep him on the court and how to use him. The final addition of note was Omari Spellman. The power forward starred for Villanova's last championship team and was a late first-round pick of the Hawks just last year. They gave up on him after just one year, so the Warriors picked him up for next to nothing and will see what they have.
Besides Durant, a couple of familiar faces are gone. Andre Iguodala was traded to Memphis as a salary cap casualty, and Shaun Livingston retired, so two veteran pieces of championship teams are gone. And Demarcus Cousins left, and Andrew Bogut is gone, but neither of those moves will be worth shedding a tear over.
2019 Golden State Warriors Futures Odds and Trends
Golden State Warriors Futures Odds
NBA title odds : +1200
Western Conference title odds : +700
Steph Curry MVP Odds : +500 (second best)
Draymond Green MVP Odds : +10000
D'Angelo Russell MVP Odds : +10000
Season win total: 48.5
Will the Golden State Warriors make the playoffs: Yes -350, No +290
The Warriors were a disaster to bet on last year - their 35-46-1 ATS mark was only better than the Knicks. And the Knicks are profoundly awful. Betting against them was consistently profitable, though, and so was betting the under - they went under 44 times and over just 36. A highly public team led by their offense that consistently went under and didn't cover - the dream of sportsbooks everywhere.
2019 Golden State Warriors Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
There are a lot of questions here. When can Thompson come back, and what does he look like when he does? How does Russell fit? Have all the changes dulled the hunger of the key pieces even a little? But the stars are still here, and the coaching is still excellent. I like them to finish second in their division behind the Clippers, and the playoffs are a total lock. I like them more than many. But the streak of Finals appearances is really, really threatened.
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