How an alternate reality of the Warriors may look right now without 'that punch'

2022 NBA Finals - Game Six
2022 NBA Finals - Game Six / Adam Glanzman/GettyImages

It's the moment that may go down in history as the concluding point of a dynasty. The Golden State Warriors were on top of the NBA world, entering another season as reigning champions for the fourth time in eight years.

Then, Draymond Green punched Jordan Poole in a sickening training camp incident that may have ended the Warriors season before it began. Even over 18 months on, and nearly 12 months since the franchise traded Poole, it's still a talking point.

Speaking on his podcast on Sunday, Green revealed his embarrassment at being around the team that season, along with his regret of not being able to celebrate Poole's contract extension with him as a result of the punch.

Where could the Golden State Warriors be right now without the devastating Draymond Green punch on Jordan Poole?

Much was made of how the incident impacted the Warriors last season, but far less has been made of its impact on this season. Part of that is because it's purely hypothetical, as well as the fact Poole struggled heavily following his move to the Washington Wizards last offseason.

The 24-year-old is now considered as having one of the worst contracts in the league, which was a big part in why Golden State dealt Poole alongside the obvious Green issue. However, there's a world in which, without the punch, Poole continued to develop in a way that reflected the extension he was given.

Poole put up a career-high 20.4 points and 4.5 assists in 2022-23 -- without the punch you could assume he would have been better than those already productive numbers, particularly in the playoffs where he became nearly unplayable in the second-round against the Los Angeles Lakers. Maybe Golden State squeeze through to the Western Conference Finals as a result.

After a more efficient and better season from Poole, a deeper playoff run, and without the lingering Green issue, perhaps the Warriors aren't motivated to move the young guard last offseason.

If Golden State had entered this season with Poole on their roster, maybe head coach Steve Kerr is less steadfast on retaining Klay Thompson in the starting lineup amid his early struggles. That could have presented issues in itself, but we can't forget the individual and team success that emanated from Poole's time as a starter.

The former first-round pick had averaged 24.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 43 games as a starter in 2022-23, and 20.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 51 games the season prior. In Poole's 94 games as a starter over those two seasons, the Warriors had a 57-37 record -- only Green and Stephen Curry had a better winning percentage of players to start at least 15 games across those two years.

A Curry-Poole back court would appear to have very significant defensive issues, and yet the pair (and the team) were incredibly successful when they started together. Poole averaged 19.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists, and was a cumulative +175, in 52 games starting alongside Curry. Golden State had a 36-16 record in those games.

Those statistics suggest that the Warriors could have been a far better team this season, one that at the very least makes the playoffs. Under the backdrop of greater success, perhaps ownership is far more willing to continue spending rather than look to slash tens of millions from their payroll as they prepare to do this offseason.

Speaking of spending -- without being the incumbent shooting guard, Thompson may be more likely to leave this offseason. He may leave regardless, and at least in Poole they would have had a more proven replacement than present where they may end up relying on Brandin Podziemski or Moses Moody.

Of course, this is all hypothetical with plenty of 'perhaps'' and 'maybes', but there are key numbers to offer a pathway of what the Warriors could have been had the punch never eventuated. Alas, it's an alternate reality we'll unfortunately never get to witness.