The defending champion Golden State Warriors failed to escape the second-round of this year’s postseason, losing in six games to the Los Angeles Lakers.
While some, including Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr, believe that the Lakers were simply the better team, the Warriors were initially favored to win the series. Stephen Curry was clearly the best player in the series, and Golden State was considered the slightly more experienced team from top to bottom. So why then did the defending champions concede not one, but two blowout losses in the series, and seemingly run out of gas in an elimination Game 6?
In short, the Warriors’ role players did not rise to the occasion, and Curry didn’t have enough help from his supporting cast. Sure, his three-point shooting was subpar, but the two-time MVP did his part, falling back on his elite ball handling skills to penetrate the Lakers’ defense and consistently generate quality looks for himself and others.
In Game 6, Curry pulled his weight, tallying 32 points, five assists, and six rebounds, but no other starter for Golden State scored in double-figures. The Warriors simply can’t and couldn’t win like that.
Golden State will likely have a lot of returning faces next season. If they want to maximize what’s left of Curry’s prime and get back to an NBA Finals stage, some players will have to take a long look in the mirror and figure out how they can better themselves for the good of the team.
Before a busy offseason, let’s take a look at the Golden State Warriors with the most to prove going forward and heading into the 2023-24 season.
5. Klay Thompson
How could Klay Thompson possibly be on this list? After all, the guy is a four-time champion, five-time all-star, two-time member of the All-NBA third team, and one of the greatest shooters to ever touch a basketball. Yet here he is, at number five on the list. So how come?
This is less about who Thompson is as a player, and more about the fact that the veteran is up for another contract extension at the conclusion of the 2023-24 season. A recent article by the Athletic’s Shams Charania and Anthony Slater suggests that Thompson might even be asked to take a pay cut so that the Warriors can retain Draymond Green. Whether there is any credence to those reports or not, Thompson will be playing for a new deal, meaning the pressure is on him to perform.
Thompson is coming off a series to forget against the Lakers, as the former three-point contest champion lost his touch from downtown. Thompson shot just 34.3% from the field for the series, and over the last four games, he shot an abysmal 29.2% from three-point land. It didn’t help that when his shot wasn’t falling, Thompson did little to impact the game in other ways, playing mediocre defense at best.
During the regular season, Thompson averaged 21.9 points per game on 43.6% shooting from the field, and 41.2% from three — pretty consistent with his career averages, but his production felt far more erratic than previous years. The defensive side was a challenge for Thompson, who gets a slight pass here given his history of lower-body injuries. Nevertheless, Thompson played 33 minutes a game, and the Warriors can ill-afford for him to be a liability on that end.
Thompson is as resilient as they come. After suffering back-to-back catastrophic injuries, he battled back and became a key contributor for a championship team, helping the Warriors capture their fourth title in eight years. With a full offseason to recover and get back to himself, Warrior fans expect another bounce-back season from 33-year-old.