When you’ve got a superstar at the level of Stephen Curry, sometimes that’s all you need in closing out games and playoff series. That was the case for the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the first-round against the Sacramento Kings, even if the two-time MVP’s 50-piece was ably supported by Kevon Looney’s 21 rebounds.
Yet in today’s NBA, it’s incredibly difficult to go all the way to a championship without a second All-Star level player, regardless of who the number one is. The Warriors had that with Andrew Wiggins in their triumphant title year, but the Canadian’s interrupted season left a void for the franchise in 2022-23.
Heading into the 2023-24 season, which player lays the greatest claim to being the Golden State Warriors’ second-best player?
In a recent article laying out the NBA’s top five duos, Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz gave the pair of Curry and Draymond Green an honourable mention. The latter’s classification as Golden State’s second-best player at present is a fair assumption given his strong season.
The veteran forward has retained his position as one of the league’s premier defenders, even if the Warriors’ defense as a team saw a major drop from their best. Offensively, Green’s points per game, field-goal and three-point shooting percentage were all at five-year highs last season.
While Green may be the straight forward answer in evaluating who the Warriors’ second-best player is right now, the more important query is who needs to be Curry’s right-hand man for the franchise to reach the mountaintop again?
Green and Klay Thompson are each 33-years-old and on the downside of their careers. They’re still incredibly impactful no doubt, but holding reliance on either of them as top two franchise players is unlikely to lead to the ultimate success.
Next season is important for Wiggins in re-establishing himself as the influential two-way wing that’s so important in the modern NBA. He was solid when on the floor last season, but he did miss 45 regular season games due to injury and personal reasons.
Will Wiggins ever be an All-Star again though? It’s possible but unlikely. So, who else can reach that level? Despite speculation regarding his future, there’s little doubt Jonathan Kuminga has that capacity if everything goes right. There’s an opportunity for the third-year forward to rise into the player he and the franchise envisage, but how quickly can that materialize why Curry is still in his prime?
While Curry will always be the engine that holds the power to how far Golden State can go, the 35-year-old needs further high-level support around him should the franchise wish to claim a fifth championship in ten seasons.