After a disappointing 2022-23 campaign, even the most optimistic Golden State Warriors’ fans would understand their team’s place outside the top couple of contenders for next year’s championship.
Yet with the blockbuster Jordan Poole-for-Chris Paul trade, the re-signing of four-time champion Draymond Green, and the savvy signing of veteran big Dario Saric, the Warriors’ appear in win-now mode and should still be sighted as contenders accordingly.
The Golden State Warriors sit surprisingly behind two teams in a recent ‘Power Rankings’ published by NBC Sports.
According to NBC Sports, the Warriors sit eighth in power rankings after the major point of free agency. The NBA champion Denver Nuggets deservedly sit first, while the Milwaukee Bucks are ranked second despite a first-round playoff exit against the eventual Finalist Miami Heat.
The most contentious point for Warrior fans should come in the sixth and seventh spots, currently occupied by the Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers. Although such rankings mean very little at this point of the offseason, Golden State fans would certainly argue against their team’s place behind the Eastern Conference duo.
Sure, the 76ers are undoubtedly talented on paper, but they’re also going through the trade request of arguably their second-most important player in James Harden. With speculation rife surrounding his future, it’s hard to evaluate where the team lies.
While they could bring the 33-year-old former MVP back into the fold, an unmotivated Harden has hardly been a winning asset in previous years. If they do trade him, can Daryl Morey get value back that will maintain or increase their title chances next season?
It’s not as if they’re distinctively better than the Warriors anyway — both teams were eliminated in the second-round of the postseason with the 76ers having never been to the Conference Finals during the Joel Embiid era. Although Golden State may have been through some major changes this offseason, you could argue there’s more stability in the Bay than in the City of Brotherly Love.
Having the Cavaliers over the Warriors appears like plain disrespect to what the latter’s championship core has done over recent years. Cleveland have the upside to move past Golden State next season, but their disastrous first-round playoff exit has opened questions that shouldn’t be ignored.
The Warriors need to re-establish their identity after an ultimately disappointing 2022-23 season. However, much couldn’t have gone worse and they still went further than the Cavaliers and just as far as the 76ers. That, and their proven track record, means they should probably hold a little more weight than two teams with both off and on-court issues.