While a positive opening to their 2023-24 campaign will be important, the Golden State Warriors face a conundrum in determining the importance of it in the grand scheme of their overall championship aspirations.
With a couple of major offseason acquisitions amid a greater focus on their aging title core, the way the Warriors manage their priorities will be of great intrigue heading into next season.
Are the Golden State Warriors already in championship contention, or do they need to re-establish themselves early next season?
Golden State’s early stretch of form has been a tale of two stories over the past two years. Their 18-2 run in the opening 20 games of the 2021-22 season signalled their return as an elite level team, forcing the league to take notice as a powerful force reignited their dynasty.
Last season couldn’t have been much more different. On the back of an NBA championship, Golden State were rocked by the Draymond Green-Jordan Poole training camp incident and stumbled out of the blocks as a result. They were 3-7 after 10 games and although they recovered to make the second-round of the postseason, they failed to make the kind of barnstorming run to prove themselves as genuine contenders once again.
Heading to the 2023-24 season, there are plenty of question marks on where the Warriors lie in the overall pecking order. How motivated will they be to recapture their best early on? Doing so would allay fears among the fan base, simultaneously spreading anxiety around the league with many opposition fans having already counted them out.
Yet at the same time, this is a team unperturbed by regular season results. The trio of Green, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have made their careers on postseason activity, while their newest big name recruit, 38-year-old Chris Paul, has done everything there is to do on an NBA floor bar win a title.
Speaking recently on his podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst stated, “I don’t think you’re going to judge the Warriors coming out of the gate”. Conversely, he suggested the new-look Phoenix Suns should want to make a strong start to establish their position among the top rung of contenders.
The Warriors will have to find a balance — unlike last season they’ll want to secure a playoff seeding without the same long-held threat of the Play-In tournament. However, given their aging core, nothing should be done to impede their chances of arriving at the postseason fully healthy and with a genuine chance of adding another championship.