Prior to the 2020 NBA Draft on Wednesday night, we received a report none of us really wanted at the time. We found out that Golden State Warriors SG Klay Thompson had suffered a lower leg injury and his status was unknown. On Thursday, we found out that it was the worst possible scenario — a torn Achilles. Thompson is done for the entire 2020-21 season, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. It will be his second straight missed season after sitting out 2019-20 with a torn ACL suffered during the 2019 NBA Finals. So how will the Warriors move on and what does this mean for their title odds?
Golden State Warriors NBA Championship Odds: +800
If any team can withstand the injury to Klay again, it’s the Warriors. Wait, that wasn’t the case in 2019-20, so what makes this season different? Well, for one, Stephen Curry is expected to be 100 percent ready after missing most of last season due to a hand injury. Draymond Green is healthy. Andrew Wiggins is healthy. The team has had plenty of time to rest between seasons with the pandemic messing everything up. Plus, the Warriors have had an influx of young talent come through.
Among that talent at the top is the No. 2 pick in the 2020 draft: James Wiseman. The Memphis center fills a need at the position. The Dubs have widely operated with smaller lineups featuring Draymond Green at center. The Warriors will need to adjust now that Klay is sidelined again. Wiseman has the skill set and pedigree to develop into a franchise cornerstone. If that’s the case, it could ease the blow of losing Thompson. Wiseman has a shot to start right away, though we could see a few other names start at center.
Kevon Looney and Eric Paschall are those two names. Wiseman probably has the edge over both players because really Looney and Paschall are both pure PFs. Looney missed most of last season due to injury. Paschall was in the Rookie of the Year conversation until he hit the rookie wall and dealt with some nagging hip issues. If Wiseman isn’t the starting center, then Dray could move back to that spot with Paschall starting at PF. The thing to takeaway from all this is that the Dubs have depth to withstand the injury.
At SG, we saw last season a few guys step up for the Warriors with Thompson sidelined. Damion Lee earned himself a contract extension through his play in the starting lineup. It also helped that Curry was out for most of the season and D’Angelo Russell was the lone guard in the back court. Lee averaged 12.7 points per game over 49 contests (36 starts) last season. Of course, Lee isn’t Thompson. The thing is, if Curry and Green can stay healthy, they’ve been known to elevate the players around them.
A few other names — other than the obvious Andrew Wiggins — are Jordan Poole and Juan Toscano-Anderson. Poole was a late first-rounder last season who played well off the bench. He averaged 8.8 points in 57 games, though his shooting touch did not translate from college. If Poole can get comfortable after a season and start to shoot like he did at Michigan, he could fill some of the void left by Thompson.
Overall, the Warriors’ will have a tough time getting out of the West with so much competition. Thompson’s defense was invaluable and he’s one of the best 3-point shooters of all-time. Golden State would need a big rookie season from Wiseman and one of Lee, Poole, Paschall or Looney to take a big step forward in order to be legit title contenders again. The Warriors could try and make a big splash in free agency or strike a deal for an established two-guard. If that happens, their championship odds might be salvaged. That’s one way we can get an edge if their odds start to plummet from 8/1.
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