Tuesday night’s victory over the Los Angeles Clippers was desperately needed for the Golden State Warriors, having lost nine of their past 11 prior to the matchup.
Although defense has been the major cause for concern over this recent period, fans have been critical of a number of team issues and underwhelming individual performances.
The Warriors continue a tug of war between aspiring for both short and long-term success, made all the more interesting by the high expectations.
While this criticism has often been warranted and deserving, it’s also undeniable that it emanates from high expectations based on an impressive start to the season. Although Monday’s game against Denver offered a glimpse into the excitement of the Warriors’ future, the nagging reality suggested it was another loss in a championship-contending season.
The biggest recent positive for the Warriors has been the growth of their younger players. After a tough stretch and question marks on his production coming off the bench, Jordan Poole has responded with four straight 20+ point games including 32 against the Nuggets.
Meanwhile, the Warriors rookies, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody, have solidified themselves as key parts of the rotation. The latter had a career-high 30 against the Nuggets, with Kuminga leading the team with 21 against the Clippers.
But as exciting and tantalizing as that trio is, along with the imminent return of James Wiseman, Golden State proved themselves as title contenders and fans have expectations as such. The form of Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins, the healthy return of Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, are all issues more important to the team’s short-term ambitions.
Based on pre-season predictions, this lull isn’t overly surprising when you consider the magnitude of Green’s absence and Thompson’s continued revival from two years out of the game. But it is a major disappointment based on the high level of play the team produced to start the season.
That’s ultimately what happens, whether fair or not, when you have increasing amounts of success. The team is expected to win 75-80% of games, Andrew Wiggins is expected to continue playing at an all-star caliber level.
More importantly, the internal expectations should mirror those of the fanbase. Doing so holds accountability to every member of the organization, ultimately allowing the franchise to remain on a path towards championship success.